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American Cockroach

( Periplaneta americana )

Characteristics

SIZE: The American cockroach measures about 1.5 inches in length, but can grow up to 2 inches long.

COLOR: This cockroach has reddish-brown wings, light, circular or figure eight markings on its thorax and a light-colored band around the pronotum.

BEHAVIOR: The American cockroach is the largest house-infesting cockroach across the country. The males of this species have a high sensitivity to the female cockroach pheromone, also known as periplanone-B. This makes the males dedicated to increasing their ranks. 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 six days, although she has the capacity to produce up to two in one week. Presumably to protect her young, a female American roach will glue her egg sack in closed-off hiding spots and attempt to camouflage it by scraping up paint and cardboard and covering the sack. On average, a female American cockroach will produce six to 14 egg capsules in her lifetime. Under perfect conditions, such as those in a laboratory, she could produce up to 22 egg sacks – that’s over 336 nymphs. Once ready to break free, nymphs in the ootheca put up a synchronized effort to break through the sack.

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.

The American cockroach, like most others, will consider anything for its next meal. Foods, feces and everything in between are fair game for a hungry roach. Anything a roach nibbles on or walks across may become tainted with the bacteria carried by the roach. Unfortunately, you may not know that a roach has been there, which is why surfaces should be cleaned thoroughly and foods never left uncovered.

Habitats

The American cockroach prefers habitats where food and water supply are plentiful. These areas typically include commercial bakeries and kitchens, hospitals, hotels and zoos, in addition to sewers and drain pipes. Roaches communicate with one another through the use of pheromones to decide what location is best to settle in.

They are known to settle among family, and it is not uncommon for multiple generations of roaches to live within the same area. They particularly enjoy environments above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and despite its name, the American cockroach is found all over the world. It is common to find them in crawl spaces, wood piles, dead logs, hollowed-out trees and other outdoor locations (especially in Southern states), as well as inside your home.

Tips for Control

Long-term roach control typically requires a pest management professional. To limit the number of roaches in and around your home:

  • Practice better sanitation and garbage disposal.

  • Eliminate points of entry and debris around your property.

  • Don’t leave food lying around your home.

  • Place glue traps.

  • Call a pest management professional for American cockroach infestations.

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