Cockroaches are one of the most common home pests. There are a staggering 4,500 species of cockroaches around the world, and 69 of those are found in the United States. Each has its own habitats and behaviors, and proper identification is a key to helping control their populations in and around your home.
The American cockroach is one species that may infest homes. Learn more about this species of cockroach, including identification, habitat and control methods.
American cockroaches, sometimes called “palmetto bugs” are large, measuring 1.5 to 2 inches in length, and reddish-brown in color. It is the largest species of cockroach found in the U.S. Both males and females have wings, however they aren’t good at flying. They really just glide. They also have light-colored markings on their thorax.
Habitats and Behavior
American cockroaches live in habitats with plentiful food and water. They are commonly found outdoors in hollow trees, wood piles and mulch. They may find their way indoors while searching for food and water or when attempting to escape extreme weather conditions, such as heavy rain.
Common indoor habitats for American cockroaches include warm and moist areas of buildings. They are also found in sewers, drainage pipes and basements.
American cockroaches are known to move in large groups to avoid environmental disruptions (like the rain mentioned earlier), and multiple generations may even live in the same place together.
American cockroach populations can grow to large numbers over time. Males are extremely sensitive to a pheromone produced by female cockroaches. After mating, a female produces a capsule, or ootheca, with 16 eggs, and a single female is capable of producing anywhere from six to 14 egg capsules in her lifetime. Females lay their egg capsules near food sources and glue them to surfaces to secure them.
The average lifespan of an American cockroach is 90 to 706 days for females and 90 to 362 days for males.
Like other species of cockroach, the American cockroach will eat virtually anything. Its diet typically consists of whatever is available. However, foods that these cockroaches are attracted to include sweets, bread, fruit, cheese, beer, starch in book bindings, glue and hair.
Because of the unsanitary environments in which they live, the American cockroach can carry bacteria and contaminate surfaces and food.
One of the first steps in helping prevent and control American cockroaches from infesting your home is knowing what attracts them:
Water – Repair leaks to keep water and moisture from accumulating in your home.
Shelter – American cockroaches can enter your home under doors and through cracks. Use caulk to seal any potential openings and ensure you have weather stripping placed around your doors and windows.
Food – Keep counters and food prep surfaces clean and free of crumbs. Properly store food and throw away any items that have been left out uncovered. Dispose of garbage regularly.
You can help identify areas in your home that may be infested by searching areas like cabinets and crevices with a flashlight, or you can have a trained pest control professional perform the inspection. Additionally, you may place glue traps in suspected high-traffic areas. If cockroaches are present, they may be stuck to the strip after a few days. Of course, cockroaches are persistent pests that require year-round control. For the most effective control methods, consult a pest control professional.