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American Cockroach


Actual Size: Approximately 2″ long

Characteristics: Brown to reddish-brown in color; winged.

Legs: 6

Wings: Yes, adults have wings and can fly.

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Primarily live outdoors but can be found in sewers and drains across the Northern United States. In the Southern United States, they are found in shady garden areas and yards.


  • Capable of flight, but clumsy when airborne.
  • Largest of the house-infesting cockroaches.
  • Attracted to alcoholic beverages, especially beer.

American Cockroaches in Salina

American cockroaches are known by many names—water bug or palmetto bug— as well as many other colorful euphemisms. It is the largest of the house-infesting cockroaches, measuring up to 2 1⁄8 inches long with fully developed reddish-brown wings. Despite its name, the American cockroach is not native to North America and was probably introduced via ships from Africa. It is everywhere in the United States and is second only to the German cockroach in abundance. Adults can live up to one year and adult females produce an average of 150 young in their lifetime. Omnivorous and opportunistic, decaying organic matter is the staple of their diet but they will eat almost anything. They enjoy sweets but have also been observed eating paper, pet food, soap, hair, fruit, book bindings, cardboard boxes, cloth, and dead insects.

American Cockroach Habitat

In nature, the American cockroach is found in bat caves and hollow trees. In urban settings, it is a common inhabitant of sewers, storm drainage systems, prisons, factories, hospitals, and hotels. American cockroaches prefer warm, damp environments. When these roaches venture inside homes in search of food, they often choose to live in damp areas such as basements, garages, kitchens, and bathrooms.

American Cockroach Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

American cockroaches have the ability to bite, although they rarely do. These cockroaches are considered dangerous pests because they breed and feed in unsanitary areas close to humans, such as garbage storage, sewage systems, and septic tanks. American cockroaches have a characteristic odor when present and can contaminate human foods and surfaces with their feces and body parts. Foraging cockroaches can also be vectors of disease, depositing germs or bacteria in areas they inhabit. They also cause asthma attacks in sensitive individuals. If you suspect any kind of roach infestation in your home or business, contact a professional cockroach exterminator.

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