Top 10 American Cockroach Facts

American Cockroach (beside a lighter for sense of scale).  They are the largest type of cockroach found indoors and much bigger than the German and Chinese types. They generally prefer to live outside, however, unless the weather is cold and stormy.
American Cockroach (beside a lighter for sense of scale). They are the largest type of cockroach found indoors and much bigger than the German and Chinese types. They generally prefer to live outside, however, unless the weather is cold and stormy. | Source

Widely considered to be a pest, American cockroaches can be hazardous to the health of humans as well as just a general blight. Not only do their bad-smelling secretions make food taste bad, the bugs can also carry harmful bacteria, such as salmonella, which they can deposit on food.

Despite all the negatives, cockroaches are also fascinating, resilient, and unique insects, however, which can now be found all around the warmer parts of the world, thanks to human transport and habitation.

Below are my top 10 American cockroach facts, I hope that you find them interesting and useful.

A cockroach likely has no less brainpower than a butterfly, but we're quicker to deny it consciousness because it's a species we dislike.

— Jeffrey Kluger

1. The American cockroach is the largest species of cockroach found indoors in the USA. A typical American cockroach measures between 1½ and 2 inches long.

2. American cockroaches are one of the fastest running insects and can run at over 3 miles an hour (the human equivalent of running at 210 miles an hour).

They use their speed to dart out of sight when humans enter a room or switch a light on, scuttling into cracks and under doors.

Adults also have wings and are able to fly (although they do it awkwardly and prefer to run).

Did You Know?

American cockroaches are sometimes colloquially known as "waterbugs". They are not aquatic, however, although do like to live around water.

They are also misidentified by some people as "palmetto bugs", which are a separate species of outdoor cockroach.

3. An adult roach can live up to a year, during which time the female will hatch around 150 offspring.

The roach goes through three stages of development: egg, nymph, and adult.

American cockroach egg cases measure around 0.9 centimetres (0.35 in) in length, are brown in color, and purse-shaped.

Young roaches emerge from the egg cases after about 6 to 8 weeks and mature over a period of 6 to 12 months.

An American cockroach close up.  They are scavengers who like to eat decaying organic matter, including meat, pet food, beer, cheese, leather, glue, hair, and they particularly love fermented fruit.
An American cockroach close up. They are scavengers who like to eat decaying organic matter, including meat, pet food, beer, cheese, leather, glue, hair, and they particularly love fermented fruit. | Source

4. This bug is a scavenger that eats almost anything. They typically consume decaying organic matter, such as meat, plants, pet food, beer, cosmetics, cheese, leather, manuscripts, glue, hair, soiled clothing, and even other insects. They have a particular fondness for fermenting fruit.

Both the cockroach and the bird would get along very well without us, although the cockroach would miss us most.

— Joseph Wood Krutch

5. American cockroaches like to be near water. If necessary, they can survive for a couple of weeks without it, but prefer to be at least near a source. They are often found near drains and sewers for this reason.

Did You Know?

Despite its name, the American cockroach is not actually native to the USA.

The bug was brought over from Africa via shipping, possibly as early as 1625.

Its original habitat was warm and humid, but the roach has learned to survive in colder climes by hiding in buildings and homes.

6. These bugs generally live outside most of the time. They like dark, damp and warm places. When around human housing, they can often living in basements, building foundations, under porches and walkways and in dark cracks and crevices generally.

During colder periods, however, they will often move inside the home, using drains, gaps around plumbing and under doors to gain entrance.

7. American cockroaches are more active in the nighttime than the day and shun light generally.

Did You Know?

American cockroaches have 3 developmental stages: egg, nymph, and adult.

Nymphs (juveniles) resemble smaller versions of adults and can take up to a year to reach full size.

8. This bug likes warm to hot conditions, a temperature somewhere between 70 and 85 degrees F is its preference. A temperature of 15 degrees F, or below, will usually kill it.

Although these bugs normally live outside, they will come inside to escape cold weather when the temperature drops. They can enter through sewers or around plumbing, under doors, or through any other gaps in the foundation.

Although they generally prefer hot humid conditions and an outdoor lifestyle, if temperatures drop, American cockroaches will try and move indoors.  They enter houses via sewers, under doors, or through any other gaps in the foundations.
Although they generally prefer hot humid conditions and an outdoor lifestyle, if temperatures drop, American cockroaches will try to move indoors. They enter houses via sewers, under doors, or through any other gaps in the foundations. | Source

9. The American cockroach sees with two compound eyes with each eye consisting of 2000 separate lenses

How To Deal With Cockroaches

10. The best way to prevent these roaches establishing themselves in your home is to keep your kitchen, cooking and food storage areas as dry as possible.

It is also advisable to eliminate all easy food sources for them by:

  • Regularly vacuuming your property, especially the kitchen area.
  • Sealing stored food properly in jars and containers.
  • Not leaving unwashed dishes and pans out overnight and cleaning down counter surfaces and eating areas.
  • Rinsing out cans and bottles when they are finished with.
  • Storing any recycling items outside.

© 2011 Paul Goodman

More by this Author


Comments 6 comments

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

Ewwwwwww but interesting. In Florida I see more Palmetto bugs, the flying ones are much more gross! Voted UP!


Ardie profile image

Ardie 5 years ago from Neverland

Ooooh, puke!! But these are for sure facts I didn't know :) Thanks for sharing even if it was icky :)


S G Hupp profile image

S G Hupp 5 years ago from United States

Barf. Nasty but very interesting.


s.montes 4 years ago

Palmento bugs ARE American cockroaches, just a different name for them.


PaulGoodman67 profile image

PaulGoodman67 4 years ago from Florida USA Author

The term 'palmetto bug' is only properly used when referring to the Florida woods cockroach. Many people call the American cockroach a palmetto, but technically this is a misidentification.


Betsyfross 2 years ago

First one I encountered after moving to Florida it launched itself from a wall and flew straight for me, landing on my chest "thump"---- I screamed so loud people in Minnesota could a heard me. Since that experience I act as if they are as deadly as cobras--- and they still scare the hair off my skull!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working