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American Cockroaches

Periplaneta americana (L.)

The American cockroach is the largest of all house-infesting cockroaches. Contrary to its name, the American cockroach was introduced to the United States from Africa as early as 1625.

American Cockroaches
Color Reddish brown, with a yellowish figure 8 pattern on the back of the head
Legs 6
Shape Oval
Size 2"
Antennae True

American Cockroach Habits

American cockroaches are most commonly found in homes and food-processing and storage areas. They are active when the temperature is 70 degrees or higher, but they can survive in lower temperatures under the right conditions.

With three life stage cycles — egg, nymph, and adult — immature cockroaches require six to 12 months to mature. Nymphs molt up to 13 times before reaching maturity. Often living another full year, the average female cockroach produces 150 young during her lifetime.

The American Cockroach Habitat

American cockroaches are often found in sewers and basements, particularly around pipes and drains. They prefer moist, warm areas above 84 degrees and thrive in crawl spaces, sewers, and summer weather.

Human activity has greatly expanded the range of American cockroaches, which now thrive in tropical climates with frost-free winters.

What Do American Cockroaches Eat?

American cockroaches love to munch on cheese, beer, leather, baked goods, book bindings, glue, hair, dried skin flakes, decaying organic matter, dead animals, soiled clothing, fermented foods, and even other roaches.

Identifying an American Cockroach

Measuring up to two inches in length, adult American cockroaches are reddish-brown or mahogany-colored, while immature cockroaches resemble adults, but are wingless and gray-brown in color. Though American cockroaches have wings, they rarely fly unless temperatures exceed 85 degrees.

Capable of squeezing into small spaces, American cockroaches are one of the fastest running insects, with record speeds of 3.4 miles per hour, which would be comparable to a human running 210mph.

Do American Cockroaches Bite?

Voracious omnivores, cockroaches are known to feed on plants and meat. Though they have been known to eat dead and living human flesh, they are most likely to chew on fingernails, eyelashes, feet, and hands. Such attacks can cause irritation, lesions, swelling, and even minor infection.

Preferring exposed or discarded food to human flesh, roaches are most likely to attack humans during large infestations where food sources are limited.

Are American Cockroaches Dangerous?

With a penchant for living in bathrooms, drains, and dumpsters, cockroaches spread at least 33 kinds of bacteria, six kinds of parasitic worms, and at least seven other kinds of human pathogens. They can pick up germs on the spines of their legs and bodies as they crawl through decaying matter or sewage and then carry these onto food surfaces. Germs that cockroaches eat from decaying matter or sewage are protected while in their bodies and may remain infective for several weeks longer than if they had been exposed to cleaning agents, rinse water, or just sunlight and air.

Recent medical studies have shown that cockroach allergens cause lots of allergic reactions in inner-city children. They were even shown to cause asthma in children. These allergens build up in deposits of droppings, secretions, cast skins, and dead roaches.

Prevent Cockroaches from Invading Your Home

Good sanitation and habitat reduction, along with vacuuming, surveillance, baiting and sealing up cracks can quickly reduce or eliminate a cockroach population.

Be sure to cover any cracks or holes where they could enter, clean up any spills or food messes and thoroughly check any materials brought inside the home since roach egg casings can be found inside furniture, boxes, suitcases and grocery bags.

Remove rotting leaves, stop water leaks and cap drain pipes, store firewood away from your home, discard old boxes and papers, secure your trashcan with a lid, clean your kitchen counters, do not leave pet food outside, and place mesh screens over windows, drains and vents. 

Signs of an American Cockroach Infestation

During the winter, these little buggers come inside, seeking warmth and readily available food. They often enter homes through sewer connections, under doors, around plumbing, and through air ducts.

Preferring to live and feed under the cover of darkness, cockroaches spotted during the day could signal a serious infestation. Their penchant for dark, moist places means cockroaches can be found behind fridges, under sinks and stoves, inside floor drains, beneath rubber mats, and within wall cracks. Outside, you may spot American roaches wandering through mulch, woodpiles, flowerbeds, and under shingles.

Cockroach feces resemble coffee grounds or black pepper, while larger roaches produce cylindrical droppings. If the infestation is large enough, a strong, oily, or musty odor may be present. Oval-shaped egg casings can sometimes be found behind furniture or between books.

Getting Rid of American Cockroaches

Insecticide sprays can be used to create perimeters or barriers around baseboards and doors. Bait traps, insecticide granules, and dusters are all effective means of getting rid of roaches.

For a complete cockroach treatment plan, contact the Arrow Exterminators team using the form below.

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