American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana)
Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the American Cockroach.
Updated: 1/30/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The ubiquitous American Cockroach isn't actually a native species, but it has done quite well in its new homeland thanks to its adaptability.
The American Cockroach is actually not native to the United States, but instead originates from Africa. It emigrated to North America via trans-oceanic trade. The cockroaches stowed away on board ships and were introduced to this continent as well as Antarctica and Greenland. Their original habitat was warm and humid, but they have acclimated to colder climates by taking shelter in warm indoor spaces such as buildings, warehouses and homes. They have also been able to survive in colder areas such as underground subways and sewers.
The American Cockroach appears glossy and carries a reddish-brown look throughout its body. Even the wings are the same color, and darker brown marks can be seen at the center of the pronotum ('shoulders'). The female has a shorter pair of wings wings while the male's wings extend past his abdomen. This makes males appear longer. They are very good flyers, though most humans see this species running on floors, walls, and ceilings more often than in flight. Their bodies are flat and somewhat flexible, making them able to squeeze through tight, flat spaces.
Adults eat moist organic matter. This can be human food, pet food, or other edible organic matter. Because they eat the same foods as humans and pets, they are considered a huge commercial and home pest. Cockroach infestations can become a problem in homes, multi-unit dwellings, restaurants, and food warehouses. Professional exterminators are very helpful in eradicating infestations from these places.
Females can lay about a dozen eggs at a time and then carry them on their backs for a few days, unloading them in a dark area where the eggs can hatch undisturbed. Nymphs (juveniles) look like smaller versions of adults and can take up to a year to grow to full size. They eat the same types of foods as adults. Female life spans are at least a year long.
Most cockroaches flee for cover with sudden illumination, however, they will explore areas and rooms that already have lights on. Look for them with a flashlight in dark spaces like cabinets, under shelving or pallets, or in potentially humid places like bathrooms, crawlspaces, or basements.