American Cockroach

American Cockroach Facts, Identification & Control

Latin Name: Periplaneta americana


The largest structure-infesting species about 1/2-inch long. Reddish-brown wings with light markings on thorax.


Very aggressive. Prefers warm, damp areas. More likely to be seen in daytime and outdoors than other species. Commonly found in food preparation areas.


Scavenger; eats almost anything.


Female needs to mate only once to produce many egg capsules. Each capsule contains an average of 13 eggs. Nymphs molt 13 times in about 600 days before reaching maturity. Adult can live up to 15 months.

The American cockroach is also commonly known as the water bug, flying water bug or palmetto bug. These large cockroaches can grow to exceed 2 inches in length. Although the American cockroach is a major pest in the United States, they are native to the tropical climates of Africa. Some evidence has suggested that the American cockroach was brought to North America aboard slave ships.

They are a peridomestic species and live primarily outdoors. In southern states, they are common in shady, humid areas like flowerbeds and around trees. In northern areas, they are usually found in sewers and drains. Climate changes or food shortage can cause them to move indoors.

When they move indoors, American cockroaches prefer to live in moist, humid environments. They can also survive in dry areas with sufficient food and water sources. These insects favor temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. When an American cockroach population infests a human home, the insects are drawn to food storage and preparation areas, as well as moist locations. In industrial settings such as restaurants and bakeries, they can be found in boiler rooms and steam tunnels. In residential and commercial buildings, the American cockroach typically infests basements and landscaping.

Unlike other cockroach species, American cockroaches are good flyers. They also gather together in open spaces, while other domestic cockroaches tend to hide in cracks and crevices. They do enjoy sweet foods, but prefer decaying material.