The American cockroach
also known as the waterbug
, or misidentified as the palmetto bug
(see Florida woods cockroach
The Florida woods cockroach , or palmetto bug is a large species of cockroach, which usually grows to a length of 1½ inch to 2 inches. It is black in color, and has a wide, glossy body, and appears at first glance to be wingless, however it does have very short wings just beneath its head,...
for the differences), is the largest species of common cockroach
Cockroaches are insects of the order Blattaria or Blattodea, of which about 30 species out of 4,500 total are associated with human habitations...
, and often considered a pest
A pest is an animal which is detrimental to humans or human concerns. It is a loosely defined term, often overlapping with the related terms vermin, weeds, parasites and pathogens...
. None of the Periplaneta
species are endemic to the Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...
; despite the name, P. americana
An introduced species — or neozoon, alien, exotic, non-indigenous, or non-native species, or simply an introduction, is a species living outside its indigenous or native distributional range, and has arrived in an ecosystem or plant community by human activity, either deliberate or accidental...
to the United States from Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...
as early as 1625. They are now common in tropical climates because human activity has extended the insect's range of habitation, and global shipping
Shipping has multiple meanings. It can be a physical process of transporting commodities and merchandise goods and cargo, by land, air, and sea. It also can describe the movement of objects by ship.Land or "ground" shipping can be by train or by truck...
has transported the insects to world ports including the Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...
Tenerife is the largest and most populous island of the seven Canary Islands, it is also the most populated island of Spain, with a land area of 2,034.38 km² and 906,854 inhabitants, 43% of the total population of the Canary Islands. About five million tourists visit Tenerife each year, the...
, southern Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...
, and Cape Town
Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa, and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality...
Durban is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal and the third largest city in South Africa. It forms part of the eThekwini metropolitan municipality. Durban is famous for being the busiest port in South Africa. It is also seen as one of the major centres of tourism...
, South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...
American cockroach adults grow to an average length of around 4 centimetres (1.6 in) and about 7 millimetre (0.275590551181102 in) tall. They are reddish brown and have a yellowish margin on the body region behind the head. Immature cockroaches resemble adults except that they are wingless.
The insect can travel quickly, often darting out of sight when someone enters a room, and can fit into small cracks and under doors despite its fairly large size. It is considered one of the fastest running insects.
In an experiment carried out at the University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...
in 1991, a Periplaneta americana
registered a record speed of 5.4 kilometre per hour, about 50 body lengths per second, which would be comparable to a human running at 330 kilometre per hour.
It has a pair of large compound eyes each having over 2000 individual lenses, and is a very active night insect that shuns light.
American cockroaches generally live in moist areas, but can survive in dry areas if they have access to water. They prefer warm temperatures around 29 °C (84.2 °F) and do not tolerate cold temperatures. In residential areas, these cockroaches live in basements and sewers, and may move outdoors into yards during warm weather. These cockroaches are common in basements, crawl spaces, cracks and crevices of porches, foundations, and walkways adjacent to buildings.
The American cockroach is a scavenger that feeds on decaying organic matter and a variety of other foods. It is particularly fond of fermenting foods.
Females produce an egg case called an ootheca
An ootheca is a type of egg mass made by any member of a variety of species .The word is a latinized combination of oo-, meaning "egg", from the Greek word ōon , and theca, meaning a "cover" or "container", from the Greek theke...
which protrudes from the tip of the abdomen
In vertebrates such as mammals the abdomen constitutes the part of the body between the thorax and pelvis. The region enclosed by the abdomen is termed the abdominal cavity...
. After about two days, the egg cases are placed on a surface in a safe location. Egg cases are about 0.9 centimetre (0.354330708661417 in) long, brown, and purse shaped. Immature cockroaches emerge from egg cases in 6 to 8 weeks and require 6 to 12 months to mature. Adult cockroaches can live up to one year, during which females produce an average of 150 young.
Due to their large size and slow development, large infestations of these insects are not common within houses. However, during certain times of the year, these cockroaches may move inside a house from outside. In cold weather these cockroaches may move indoors, seeking warmer temperatures and food. Cockroaches may enter houses through sewer connections, under doors, around plumbing, air ducts, or other openings in the foundation. Cockroach populations may be controlled through the use of insecticide
An insecticide is a pesticide used against insects. They include ovicides and larvicides used against the eggs and larvae of insects respectively. Insecticides are used in agriculture, medicine, industry and the household. The use of insecticides is believed to be one of the major factors behind...
Comparison of three common roaches
|| German cockroach
|| Oriental cockroach
|| American cockroach
|| 12 mm (0.47244094488189 in) to 15 mm (0.590551181102362 in)
|| 25 mm (0.984251968503937 in) to 30 mm (1.2 in)
|| 28 mm (1.1 in) to 43 mm (1.7 in)
|| Heated buildings, optimum 32 °C (89.6 °F)
|| 20 °C (68 °F) to 29 °C (84.2 °F)
|| Same as German
|Nymphal development time
|| 6 to 12 weeks
|| 6 to 12 months
|| 4 to 15 months
|| 6 to 9 months
|| 1 to 1.5 years
|| 1 to 1.5 years
|Able to fly?
- Periplanone B
Periplanone B is a pheromone produced by the female American cockroach, Periplaneta americana. It is a sexual excitant to male cockroaches, especially at short ranges.-History:...
- American cockroach pheromone
A pheromone is a secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species. Pheromones are chemicals capable of acting outside the body of the secreting individual to impact the behavior of the receiving individual...
A mouse is a small mammal belonging to the order of rodents. The best known mouse species is the common house mouse . It is also a popular pet. In some places, certain kinds of field mice are also common. This rodent is eaten by large birds such as hawks and eagles...
, another ubiquitous and commonly-loathed pest
- Fact sheet on American cockroaches featuring information on habits, habitat, prevention tips, and health threats
- An Ohio State University Entomology article on the American cockroach (PDF)
- Gallery of cockroaches
- Order Blattodea, Exploring California Insects
- University of Minnesota Extension - Cockroaches article
- American cockroach egg parasitoid on the UF
The University of Florida is an American public land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university located on a campus in Gainesville, Florida. The university traces its historical origins to 1853, and has operated continuously on its present Gainesville campus since September 1906...
The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is a federal-state-county partnership dedicated to developing knowledge in agriculture, human and natural resources, and the life sciences, and enhancing and sustaining the quality of human life by making that information...
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