SIZE: The adult American cockroach measures about 1.5 inches in length, but can grow up to 2 inches long. Nymphs are smaller and lack wings.

COLOR: Adult cockroaches have reddish-brown wings, light, circular or figure eight markings on their thorax and a light-colored band around the pronotum, a shield that partially covers the head. Nymphs, young, immature American cockroaches, are similar in color and may be mistaken for Oriental cockroach nymphs.

BEHAVIOR: The American cockroach is one of the largest cockroach species which may infest houses in the United States.

Female American cockroaches can be very productive, producing a sack of 16 eggs after mating. Without mating again, the female roach, which has a lifespan of about a year, can continue to produce egg sacks, or oothecae, using saved sperm.

In ideal circumstances, a female can produce an egg sack every week, although she has the capacity to produce up to two in one week. A female American roach will glue her egg sack in closed-off hiding spots. The egg sacks are often laid among debris, in corners, and other hidden areas. On average, a female American cockroach will produce 21 egg capsules in her lifetime, which equates to over 300 nymphs. Once ready to break free, nymphs exit the ootheca after the hatch or emerge from their egg.

The average lifespan of an American cockroach from egg to adult is anywhere from 168 to 786 days. After reaching adulthood, a female can live anywhere from 90 to 706 days and a male anywhere from 90 to 362 days. This great variation in lifespan is related to environmental conditions and the presence and quality of food sources.

The American cockroach, like most others, will consider anything for its next meal. Human foods, grease, feces, and soap are some items which cockroaches will eat.

Since cockroaches often feed in areas that are unsanitary, they walk though items which may contain bacteria. The bacteria clings to their bodies and legs and can be deposited on clean dishes, silverware, and other surfaces as the cockroaches move from one location to another. Because you don't know where cockroaches are traveling you want to keep surfaces cleaned, keep food covered and remove trash frequently.


The American cockroach prefers habitats where food and water supply are plentiful and they are generally found outdoors. Roaches communicate with one another through the use of pheromones to decide what location is best to settle in.

Cockroaches often cluster in areas and it is not uncommon for multiple generations of roaches to live within the same area. They are successful in environments where temperatures are at or above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and despite its name, the American cockroach is found all over the world. When they come inside you can often find them in crawlspaces, attics and bathrooms. But they're generally found in places like wood piles, dead logs, hollowed-out trees and other outdoor locations (especially in Southern states).


American cockroach control typically requires a pest management professional. To reduce the number of roaches in and around your home:

  • Remove trash that contains food items or cardboard with grease or food stains. These can be food sources for cockroaches and ants.
  • Routinely clean surfaces to remove food and grease deposits which cockroaches will eat.
  • Seal openings under doors, around windows and pipe penetrations, and cracks in the foundation to prevent entry into the home.
  • Remove trash and food debris from gardens or fruit producing plants. This can reduce food sources for cockroaches and other animals such as rats.
  • Don't leave food lying around your home.
  • Use glue traps to monitor the presence of cockroaches and other insects.
  • Call a pest control professional for American cockroach infestations.