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Cockroaches: Blattodea

American Cockroach (periplaneta Americana): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Adult American cockroaches measure 1.1 to 1.7 inches (28 to 43.2 millimeters) in length. The wings are fully developed in both males and females. Their bodies are reddish brown, with pale yellow margins around the edge of the midsection.

Geographic range: Originally from tropical Africa, this species is now found throughout the warmer regions of the world, accidentally distributed by sailing ships carrying goods and slaves.

Habitat: This species is seen both inside and outside human dwellings. American cockroaches prefer warm, moist habitats and are the most common species of cockroach in sewers in the United States. In tropical and subtropical areas they are found outdoors and in dumps, woodpiles, sewers, and cesspools.

Diet: The American cockroach feeds on almost all plant and animal materials and eats human waste in sewers.

Adult female American cockroaches live up to two years, producing as many as ninety egg capsules. (Kim Taylor/Bruce Coleman Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

Behavior and reproduction: American cockroaches live in groups and may form large colonies numbering in the millions. When threatened, they can fly short distances. Females produce a pheromone that attracts males from as far away as 98 feet (30 meters).

Under laboratory conditions, with temperatures ranging from 64 to 81°F (18 to 27°C) during winter and a maximum summer temperature of 95°F (35°C), female larvae need fifteen to sixteen months to reach adulthood, while males take about eighteen months. At higher temperatures the development time is shorter. Adult females live up to two years, producing as many as ninety egg capsules. Each capsule contains about sixteen eggs that take almost two months to hatch. The larvae molt nine to thirteen times before reaching adulthood.

American cockroaches and people: The American cockroach, along with the German cockroach, is the most common cockroach pest. American cockroaches have many kinds of microscopic organisms on and in their bodies that can cause disease in humans.

Conservation status: This species is not endangered or threatened. ∎

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceInsects and SpidersCockroaches: Blattodea - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Cockroaches And People, Madeira Cockroach (rhyparobia Maderae): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, CONSERVATION STATUS