The American Cockroach

The American cockroach, commonly called a “Water Bug,” is the largest cockroach common to California. Even though its name would suggest that it is native to America it is actually believed to have been transported by ship from Africa. The American cockroach is common throughout North America and the rest of the world. Though they can be found in residences, they are much more common in commercial buildings.

What do American Cockroaches look like?

Adult American cockroaches are 1 3/8″-2 1/8″ making them very easily identifiable by their size and color. They range from reddish to brown except for a pale brown to yellowish band around the edges of its pronotal shield (area on back just behind its head). Both male and female are fully winged. The male´s wings extend slightly beyond the tip of the abdomen but the female´s wings do not. They do fly but are poor to moderate flyers at best. Only rarely do they fly.

Did you know American Cockroaches…?

Some species of cockroach fly readily, but not this one.

Nymphs (babies) are similar in appearance to adults but lack wings.
The oothecae (egg capsules) are dark reddish to blackish brown and are about 3/8″ long with length 1.5 times the width.

American Cockroach Lifecycle

1. The American Cockroach will produce 9-10 oothecae in her life time.
2. Each egg sack contains 16 eggs.
3. The female deposits the egg within the first four days after it is formed and sticks it to a surface with mouth secretions or drops it in a crack.
4. Once eggs hatch it takes an average of 600 days before the cockroach reaches adulthood and is able to reproduce and has then approximate one additional year of life for breeding, in which time it can produce approximately 150 offspring.

American cockroach behavior

Education based video on Cockroaches

Where do they hide?
1. Food storage and food preparation areas.
2. Basements.
3. Sewers and sewer drains.
4. In the summer months they can be found outside in yards and alleys.

American cockroaches are the most common species found in American sewer systems.

1. They like warm humid places. (like most insects)
2. They don´t like open spaces because it leaves them vulnerable to attack by predators.

How did they get there?

American cockroaches enter buildings either by being brought in by people or by traveling through sewer drains. They can also enter from the outside, moving from other building infested areas such as a trash collection site during the warmer months. They have also been seen on occasion moving in large numbers from one building to another.

Prevention and control of American Cockroaches

What can I do?

1. Check your bags and boxes before bringing them into your home.
2. Eliminate areas of excess moisture.
3. Remove sources of food i.e. crumbs in or under the stove or refrigerator, garbage, or open food in pantries.
4. Seal off or remove hiding places listed above.

Where Hearts Pest Management can help you:

  • Thorough inspection in the key to effective control.
  • On rare occasions, it can be necessary to perform a survey to determine the extent of an infestation. This is done by placing monitoring devises throughout the structure and recording the number of cockroaches trapped over a week long period. Most often, monitoring is done post treatment to validation results after service and detect early changes in hygiene and cleanliness in a facility.
  • Once an infestation is identified we can address steps 2-4 listed above.
  • Chemical control when needed includes baiting, flowables – combined with insect growth regulators, and/or granular insecticides.
  • Hearts Pest Management also provides an EcoWise certified solution to cockroaches using non-chemical techniques such as industrial vacuuming, alongside “reduced risk” pesticides to eliminate the infestation for those environments with high eco-standards or those serving “populations at risk” such as senior citizens or children.

FAQ: Can you eliminate American cockroaches and really solve the problem?

In general 95% of the roach population needs to be eliminated on the initial service or the typical maintenance program will usually fail. Remedial treatment alone is unwise as the conditions leading to a roach infestation often recur in these environments.

Physical and Health Impacts of American Cockroaches

o Physical effects: Roaches produce odorous secretions resulting in a distinctive odor if populations are high. They also leave behind fecal matter and egg casings.
o Health impact of American Cockroaches: Because American cockroaches harbor in damp unsanitary places they are of great health concern. They contaminate food, food preparation areas, utensils, dishes, and other surfaces.

A variety of disease forming bacteria and viruses can be found on American cockroach legs and body surfaces that are transmitted to humans when the roach comes in contact with food and utensils. These particles left behind can cause food poisoning, dysentery, diarrhea, and other illnesses. Cockroach skin castings and excrement contain allergens that cause reactions such as rashes, sneezing, runny nose, congestion, and asthma.

In addition to the damage done by cockroach allergens and bacteria, this cockroach also. vectors deadly bacteria such as salmonella.

For more general information about cockroaches and how Hearts Pest Management can help, see Cockroach Control.

See University of Florida Entomology – American Cockroaches for forumer education-based content about American Cockroaches.

Fact References:
Penn State University College of Agricultural Sciences University Park, PA -American Cockroaches-Steve Jacobs, Sr. Extension Associate

NPCA Field Guide to Structural Pests
Eric H. Smith and Richard C. Whitman