American Cockroach Identification and Biology

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At we provide the professional do it yourself pest control products and friendly expertise to help you with all of your roach control needs. Read on to learn more about how to properly identify American Cockroaches, and the basic control methods.

Also known as:
Water Bug; Palmetto Bug

Physical Appearance

  • Reddish-brown in color with a pale brown or yellow border on the upper surface
  • About 1 ½ inches long, or longer; the longest of the common species
  • Winged, but seldom fly

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The American Cockroach usually lives outside in moist, shady areas such as yards, woodpiles, hollow trees, or under roof shingles. However, they will often wander indoors searching for food or because of extreme weather conditions. Indoors, the American cockroach is likely to be found in moist, dark areas such as basements, crawl spaces, around bathtubs, floor drains, and sewers.

Feeding Habits

American Cockroaches are scavengers and will eat almost anything, with a preference for decaying organic matter, sweets, and starchy items such as book bindings and the back of wall paper.

Life Cycle

American Cockroaches multiply rapidly, with the mature female producing many egg capsules containing 14 to 16 eggs each. These capsules will hatch within 50 to 55 days, releasing a handful of grayish-grown nymphs that will each molt 9-13 times before reaching adulthood. The average period of time to complete nymphal stage is about 160-971 days. The adult female can live up to 14 to 15 months in ideal conditions.


American cockroaches have the ability to multiply quickly and can be a nuisance in large numbers. Roaches intrude on homes, contaminate food, and sometimes transmit diseases.

Basic Control Methods

  • Repair damage to screens, door frames, or exterior siding that may provide entry from outside.
  • Repair any leaks or excess water near the structure and ventilate other moist spaces. American cockroaches are highly attracted to water.
  • Remove rotting leaves, garbage cans, or compost piles as far from the structure as possible.
  • Use a residual spray such as Talstar One or Cynoff WP outside around all points of possible entry including windows and door frames, dryer vents, and pipe openings. Use the same residual indoors along baseboards and framed entry points.
  • For added protection, apply Talstar or Bifen granulars outside around the base of the house as a perimeter treatment.

Related Articles:
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How To Get Rid of American Roaches (an in-depth guide to permanent control)


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