- American Cockroach -


American Cockroach

Periplanta americana


What is the history of cockroaches?

Cockroaches are an extremely resilient insect. By examining fossils, it’s been determined that they have been around for over 300 million years. These days, there are more than 4,000 species crawling around. About 60 exist in the United States and around a dozen cause us to get out the insecticide.


What are some physical attributes of roaches?

The fact that cockroaches have been able to survive for as long as they have has made it extremely difficult in the past to control their population. Years and years of evolution have given them tough flat bodies and large legs for fast running and easy maneuvering. Other factors contributing to their enduring presence are the rapidity and frequency that they lay eggs and their possession of good climbing abilities.


What are American roaches?

The American cockroach is also known as the water bug, flying water bug, and, in some areas of the South, the palmetto bug. It is the largest of the common roach species, growing to be 1.5 inches long or more. Although they are the least common among domestic (residentially found) species, they rank second in abundance to the German cockroach in many commercial buildings. They are reddish-brown in color with a pale brown or yellow border on the pronotum. Both sexes are fully winged, though they rarely fly. The males’ wings extend beyond the abdomen while the females’ are the same length as the abdomen.
The time it takes for an American cockroach to fully develop depends on temperature; however, it averages around 600 days under room temperature. Egg capsules are formed at the rate of about one per week until anywhere from 15 to 90 capsules have been produced. The capsule is dropped within one day of being produced in a suitable location, such as near a food or water source, or in a protected area. If it is in the South, they are sometimes deposited outdoors in moist or decaying wood. The ootheca (egg case), which is black in color, can be glued into these locations by a secretion that the female produces from her mouth. Since the ootheca requires such high humidity to hatch successfully, it is not feasible at times for the female to deposit her eggs outside. For this reason, the American cockroach will often find indoor sources to live and lay their eggs. In cold or arid regions, American cockroaches can be found in large numbers in damp basements, restaurant dishwashing rooms, bathtubs, clothes hampers, floor drains, and sewer systems. In basements, they are often found high on the walls. After being at room temperature, the eggs will hatch in 50-55 days. Young nymphs are grayish-brown in color and will molt 9-13 times before reaching maturity. With each molt, they become more and more reddish-brown in color. The nymphal stage can last anywhere from 160-970 days. After reaching adulthood, females can live from 14-15 months; males live slightly shorter lives.


What is their behavior like?

The American cockroach prefers warm, moist, dark areas. This is why they are so abundant in sewer systems, basements, and anywhere in commercial buildings, such as restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, hotels, hospitals, and prisons, where there is not proper ventilation. In the South, this species is abundant in alleyways, yards, hollow trees and palm trees. Sometimes, they are found underneath shingles or occasionally, in attics. When conditions are unfavorable outdoors, American roaches will move indoors. As mentioned in the previous section, these roaches can also be found in bathtubs, clothes hampers, and floor drains. Although they do not fly often, they have been known to fly in certain geographical areas. Moreover, they rely on their excellent gliding abilities and are able to cover long distances if they take off from a rooftop or the top of a building. Along the Gulf Coast in Texas, they have been observed flying around streetlights. American cockroaches have also been seen flying in the extremely hot desert areas of California.


What do they eat?

For food, American cockroaches prefer decaying organic manner. They also feed on bookbindings, manuscripts, clothing, and paper. Sweet things such as syrup are also appealing. If no food is available, they can live for 2-3 months. They will die if no water is ingested for over a month.


How do you get them?

If American cockroaches become an indoor pest, it is usually for one of two reasons. The first way they may enter indoors is transportation through grocery packages or other carrying devices such as handbags. The second reason the species enters is because they found the outdoors unsuitable to live in. They enter buildings in search of dark, damp area suitable to live and breed.
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