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Animals

Kidadl Team

AUGUST 11, 2021

17 American Cockroach Facts You’ll Never Forget

One of the interesting American cockroach facts is that the nymph cockroaches have limb regeneration capability.

The American cockroach is the largest common cockroach species that is considered a household pest. Other names for the American cockroach are waterbug, kakerlac, Bombay canary, and ship cockroach. Sometimes misidentified as the palmetto bug, the scientific name for this pest is Periplaneta Americana.

American roaches are not native to America, they were introduced from Africa in 1625, but they are found all over the world today. They usually live in moist regions, but can live in dry areas where water is accessible. High temperatures of approximately 84 F (28 C) are ideal for American cockroaches and they hate low temperatures. If the temperature is under 15 F (-9.4 C), they will die.

American cockroaches can be found in sewers, basements, cracks and porch crevices, crawl spaces, foundations, walkways, and basements. They are especially common in commercial building areas like bakeries, restaurants, food processing plants, grocery stores, and hospitals where they infest food and water.    

American cockroaches have the largest body size of all cockroach species and the longest life cycle of approximately 700 days. They molt between 6 and 14 times prior to metamorphosis.  

Read on to know more interesting facts about American cockroaches. You can also check out Cuban cockroach facts and Oriental cockroach facts.  

American Cockroach Interesting Facts

What type of animal is an American cockroach?

The American cockroach is the largest common cockroach species that is considered a household pest. The scientific name for the American cockroach is Periplaneta Americana.  

What class of animal does an American cockroach belong to?

The American cockroach belongs to the class Insecta within the family Blattidae and genus Periplaneta of the Animalia kingdom.  

How many American cockroaches are there in the world?

While there aren't accurate estimates of the global American cockroach population, their numbers are large enough to warrant pest control.

Where does an American cockroach live?

American roaches are not native to America, they were introduced from Africa in 1625, but they are found all over the world today. American cockroaches can be found in sewers, basements, cracks and porch crevices, crawl spaces, foundations, walkways, and basements. They are especially common in commercial building areas like bakeries, restaurants, food processing plants, grocery stores, and hospitals where they infest food and water.

What is an American cockroach's habitat?

They usually live in moist regions, but can live in dry areas where water is accessible. High temperatures of approximately 84 F (28.8 C) are ideal for American cockroaches and they hate low temperatures. If the temperature is under 15 F (-9.4 C), they will die. In the summer, American cockroaches can be seen in outdoor alleys and yards.  

American cockroaches can be found in sewers, basements, cracks and porch crevices, crawl spaces, foundations, walkways, and basements. They are especially common in commercial building areas like bakeries, restaurants, food processing plants, grocery stores, and hospitals where they infest food sources.

Who do American cockroaches live with?

Cockroaches are social creatures and tend to live in a colony, so if you find one around the house, you can bet that it's not the only one there.

How long does an American cockroach live?

The American cockroach can live for up to two years.

How do they reproduce?

Female American cockroaches produce several sex pheromones to attract mates. Mating rituals include raising of the wings, expansion of genital chambers, and exposing integral membranes by females. Males flap their wings to indicate interest and then back into females to deposit sperm. Female American cockroaches form oothecae, egg capsules, or sacs that contain eggs after fertilization has occurred. These are deposited in one or two days in cracks or crevices and glued using an oral secretion. This is usually in an area where humidity is high and there are nearby food sources.

Nine to ten egg capsules with 14-16 eggs are normally produced by a female. Three developmental stages are involved: the egg, the American cockroach nymph, and the adult. Egg cases are usually purse-shaped, brown, and measure 0.35 in (0.9 cm) in length.  

Young cockroaches emerge from eggs in six to eight weeks but take 6-12 months to mature. Hatchlings have to fend for themselves and receive no parental care. American cockroach nymphs shed 13 molts before becoming mature adult cockroaches.    

What is their conservation status?

There is no special status given to this pest by the IUCN Red List. No efforts are being made to conserve this pest species. In fact, pest control methods are being used to get rid of American cockroaches.

American Cockroach Fun Facts

What do American cockroaches look like?

The wings of male adult American cockroaches extend beyond the abdomen tip which isn't the case for female American cockroaches.

American cockroaches have the largest body size of all cockroach species and the longest life cycle of approximately 700 days. They molt 6-14 times prior to metamorphosis. They have reddish-brown to dark brown in color bodies, with a yellowish margin behind the head. They tend to measure 1.6 in (4 cm) long and approximately 0.28 in (7 mm) tall on average.

Adult American cockroaches have fully developed wings, although they can usually only fly short distances and aren't particularly good fliers. The body is flat and oval with a pronotum covering the head. The cerci, or appendages, at the tip of American cockroaches' abdomen help them detect air currents in their surroundings. Their heads have compound eyes with more than 3500 individual lenses, giving them mosaic vision. American cockroaches have sensitive antennae that give them a sense of smell and help to detect air movement.  

How cute are they?

They are far from cute. Besides, it's difficult to consider this house infesting pest cute knowing how harmful they can be to humans. An American cockroach infestation on food surfaces can lead to the spread of diseases and numerous allergic reactions.

How do they communicate?

Cockroaches communicate through pheromones during mating. The cerci, or appendages at the tip of their abdomen, help them detect air currents in their surroundings. Their heads have compound eyes with more than 3500 individual lenses, giving them mosaic vision. American cockroaches have sensitive antennae that give them a sense of smell and help to detect air movement.  

How big is an American cockroach?

They tend to measure 4 cm (1.6 in) long and approximately 7 mm (0.28 in) tall on average. These cockroaches have the largest body size of all species of cockroaches.  

How fast can American cockroaches move?

The legs and bodies of American cockroaches can help them dart away quickly if they sense a threat in their environment. They're one of the fastest moving insects to exist and are also capable of lim regeneration. The registered record speed currently identified for the species is 3.4 mph (5.4kph). This translates to a remarkable 50 body lengths per second.    

How much does an American cockroach weigh?

American cockroaches usually weigh between 0.1 g and 0.12 g (0.0035-0.004 oz).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male and female cockroaches are just called American cockroaches.

What would you call a baby American cockroach?

A baby American cockroach is called a nymph.

What do they eat?

American cockroaches feed on organic matter like bark, paper, leaves, sugar, bread, ink, oil, soap, lemons, their own cast-off skins, egg capsules. They particularly like fermented food.

Are they harmful?

Yes, American cockroaches are harmful to humans. This pest can spread diseases from decaying matter and contaminated material when they come into contact with human or pet food. They can lead to food poisoning, infections, and even diseases like Salmonella. Cockroach feces or body parts in dust at home can trigger allergic reactions and asthma in individuals.  

Would they make a good pet?

No, cockroaches would not make good pets due to the health risk posed by cockroach infestation. Cockroach control is necessary to get rid of them.

Did you know...

The three most common cockroach species are the American cockroach, German cockroach, and Oriental cockroach. When thinking of the German vs American cockroach comparison, German cockroaches are usually smaller and have shorter lifespans. American cockroaches can also typically fly (although poorly) while the flight is uncommon in German cockroaches.  

Predators of these cockroaches include spiders, ants, mantids, toads, geckos, salamanders, opossums, cats, porcupines, and monkeys.

American cockroaches in houses

American cockroaches can be found in residential as well as commercial buildings. They typically get inside houses if they're brought in or they come up from the sewer system through drains. They also occasionally migrate from dumps and other structures when it is warm weather. They can also easily pass under doors that have bad weather stripping and cause a cockroach infestation in the house.  

Cockroaches can be attracted to enter homes when there are food crumbs lying around, dirty dishes, or open garbage bins.  

How to get rid of American cockroaches?

Pest control is necessary to get rid of them. American cockroaches are hard to get rid of because of the tiny spaces they inhabit which allows them to hide easily. They also reproduce quickly and can become resistant to pesticides.

Integrated pest control is necessary to get rid of them. Certain preventive practices can be followed like making sure garbage bins are closed, maintaining surfaces free of food crumbs, and not leaving dirty dishes in the sink.

Besides this, pesticides and insecticides that pose a low risk to human health can be applied in areas commonly frequented by these cockroaches. Baits can also be used for effective control.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other insects from our click beetle facts and lone star tick facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable American cockroach coloring pages.

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