Riley Pest Management
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A source for information on roaches

American Roach     Periplaneta americana

American roaches are reddish-brown in color with a pale-brown or yellow band behind the head.

1-1 ½- inches in length. They are the largest of the house-infesting cockroaches.

These cockroaches dwell outside but often enter houses after heavy rainfall or other extreme weather. They may enter via sewer connections, under doors, around utility pipes, air ducts, or other openings in the foundation. When disturbed they may run rapidly and adults may fly.

American cockroaches prefer warm temperatures and do not tolerate cold climates. Because of their fondness of sewers, large populations of American cockroaches will be seen in many cities after heavy rains or flooding. Females produce egg cases that hatch in 6-8 weeks. The nymphs require 6 to 12 months to mature. Adult cockroaches can live up to one year, during which females produce an average of 150 young.

They are omnivorous and opportunistic feeders that will consume decaying organic matter, but being a scavenger, they will eat almost anything. They prefer sweets but has been known to eat paper, book bindings, the soft part on the inside of animal hides, cloth and dead insects.

American cockroaches are found in moist, shady areas outdoors, in yards, hollow trees, wood piles, and under mulch. They can also be found under roof shingles and in attics. In Florida, areas such as trees, woodpiles, garbage facilities, and piles of organic debris can provide adequate food, water, and shelter for them to thrive.

They migrate by crawling or flying into structures and entering houses and apartments from sewers via the plumbing, by trees and shrubs located alongside buildings, or from trees with branches that contact or hang over roofs. During the day the American cockroach, which responds negatively to light, rests in harborages or nests close to water pipes, sinks, baths and toilets.

Medical/Economic Significance:
American cockroaches can become a public health nuisance due to their affinity for sewers and the ability to move from them into homes and businesses, and their association with human waste and disease. The cockroach is often found in latrines, cesspools, sewers, sewerage treatment plants, and dumps. Their presence in these habitats is of epidemiological significance; at least 22 species of pathogenic human bacteria, virus, fungi, and protozoans, as well as five species of helminthic worms, have been isolated from field-collected American cockroach specimens. Cockroaches are also aesthetically displeasing because they can soil sterile and eating environs with their excrement and salivary secretions.


Scavenger; eats almost anything.


Female needs to mate only once to produce many egg capsules. Each capsule contains an average of 13 eggs. Nymphs molt 13 times in about 600 days before reaching maturity. Adult can live up to 15 months.

The American cockroach is also commonly known as the water bug, flying water bug or palmetto bug. These large cockroaches can grow to exceed 2 inches in length. Although the American cockroach is a major pest in the United States, they are native to the tropical climates of Africa. Some evidence has suggested that the American cockroach was brought to North America aboard slave ships.

American Cockroach Illustration


They are a peridomestic species and live primarily outdoors. In southern states, they are common in shady, humid areas like flowerbeds and around trees. In northern areas, they are usually found in sewers and drains. Climate changes or food shortage can cause them to move indoors.

When they move indoors, American cockroaches prefer to live in moist, humid environments. They can also survive in dry areas with sufficient food and water sources. These insects favor temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. When an American cockroach population infests a human home, the insects are drawn to food storage and preparation areas, as well as moist locations. In industrial settings such as restaurants and bakeries, they can be found in boiler rooms and steam tunnels. In residential and commercial buildings, the American cockroach typically infests basements and landscaping.

Unlike other cockroach species, American cockroaches are good flyers. They also gather together in open spaces, while other domestic cockroaches tend to hide in cracks and crevices. They do enjoy sweet foods, but prefer decaying material.

American cockroaches are most often found near plumbing fixtures that are not sealed. Finding and repairing leaks or breaks is often the critical step in long-term control. Caulking of penetrations through ground level walls, removal of rotting leaves or mulch, and limiting the moist areas in and around a structure can help in reducing areas that are attractive to these cockroaches. The key to control is to find and treat these sources directly. In many cases, the services of a professional company are required to achieve long-term relief. In southern states where this cockroach lives outdoors, successful control involves treating the attic, crawl space, and exterior cracks in the building and finding and treating likely cockroach harborages over the entire property.

"Riley Pest Management is a small company with a big heart that will go the extra mile to take care of an issue for you no matter when it happens. They have proven to be a very good friend to non-profits."

-- Duggan Cooley, former CEO- RCS

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