American cockroach

American cockroach — is the largest common peridomic cockroach and a major pest in the United States. The American cockroach has well developed wings, but is not a good flier.

Origin and Description

Photo: American cockroach

Photo: American cockroach

American cockroaches are dirty pests and their presence in the home can pose a serious health threat. Cockroaches have been reported to spread at least 33 bacterial species, including E. coli and Salmonella, as well as six parasitic worm species and at least seven other human pathogens.

Video: American cockroach

They pick up germs on the spines of their legs and bodies as they crawl over decaying matter or sewage, and then transfer the germs to food surfaces or cooking surfaces. The saliva, urine, and feces of American cockroaches contain allergen proteins that cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks. Thus, cockroaches are a common cause of year-round allergies and asthma symptoms, especially in children.

Fun Fact: American cockroaches are a significant pest worldwide. However, they are not native to America at all. Real home of the American cockroach — actually tropical Africa. Evidence indicates that the American cockroach was transported to America on slave ships.

Forty-seven species are included in the genus Periplaneta, none of which are endemic to the US. The American cockroach was introduced to the US from Africa as early as 1625 and spread throughout the world through commerce. It is found mainly in basements, sewers, steam tunnels and drainage systems. This cockroach is easy to find in commercial and large buildings such as restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries and anywhere food is prepared and stored. The American cockroach is rare in homes, but infestation can occur after heavy rain.

Appearance and Features

Photo: What an American cockroach looks like

Photo: What an American cockroach looks like

Adults American cockroaches average 1 to 1.5 cm in length, but can grow up to 5 cm. American cockroaches are reddish-brown in color with a yellow stripe that delineates the area behind their head. Both males and females have wings with which they can fly short distances.

Interesting fact: The average lifespan of an American cockroach from egg to adult is from 168 to 786 days. Having reached adulthood, the female can live from 90 to 706 days, and the male — 90 to 362 days.

American cockroaches have the ability to bite, although they rarely do so. If the cockroach does bite, it shouldn’t be a problem unless it has been infested.

There are four tell-tale signs of an American cockroach infestation:

  • firstly, homeowners will see how fast moving insects usually flee to dark places;
  • secondly, American cockroaches leave behind droppings in the dark areas in which they hide. This little litter is blunt at the ends and has ridges on the sides. It is often mistaken for mouse droppings, so it is important to contact a licensed pest control professional for proper identification;
  • thirdly, a sign of infection with the American cockroach is also the presence of egg capsules about 8 mm long, painted in a dark color. Egg capsules sometimes stick to surfaces near food sources and can be found in basements, laundries and kitchens, and behind appliances or under cabinets;
  • Fourthly, the American cockroach produces a pheromone that some people describe like having a «stale» smell. People with a keen sense of smell may notice this smell throughout the house.

Where does the American cockroach live?

Photo: Large American Cockroach

Photo: Large American Cockroach

American cockroaches live mostly outdoors, but it is not uncommon to find them inside buildings. In the northern United States, American cockroaches tend to be found in sewer and drain systems. In fact, American cockroaches are the most common cockroach species in urban sewer systems. In the southern United States, American cockroaches are often spotted in shady, damp areas such as flowerbeds and under mulch piles. During the summer months, they can also be found outdoors in yards and alleyways.

Fun Fact: Over 5,000 individual American cockroaches have been reported to have been found in a single manhole.

American cockroaches will move indoors if they experience food shortages or significant climate change. In general, American cockroaches prefer warm, humid, and dark environments with temperatures between 21 and 26 degrees Celsius. They often find their way into structures after people enter them, exit the sewer system through drains, or periodically migrate from other structures, landfills, etc. in warm weather.

American cockroaches are especially prevalent in larger commercial buildings such as restaurants, bakeries, grocery stores, food processing plants, hospitals, etc., where they commonly infest food storage and preparation areas, boiler rooms, steam tunnels, and basements. These pests can also enter homes by easily passing under doors where weather resistance is lacking, or by passing through basement windows and garages.

Once inside a home, American cockroaches tend to make their way into the kitchen, bathroom, basement, or laundry room in search of food and water. In the northern United States, the cockroach is mostly found in steam heat tunnels or large public buildings. The American cockroach is second only to the German cockroach in terms of numbers.

What does the American cockroach eat?

Photo: American cockroach in nature

Photo: American cockroach in nature

The American cockroach is an omnivore. He will consider all options for his next meal. Food, feces and everything in between, — perfect for a hungry cockroach. It consumes decaying organic matter, but is a scavenger and will eat almost anything.

It prefers sweets, but can also easily eat the following:

  • paper;
  • boots;
  • hair;
  • bread;
  • fruit;
  • book bindings;
  • fish;
  • peanuts;
  • old rice;
  • putrid sake;
  • soft parts of the insides of animal skins;
  • cloth;
  • dead insects.

American cockroaches feed on many types of food, but they show a particular fondness for fermenting material. Outdoors, they tend to eat decaying leaves, fungi, algae, bits of wood, and small insects. Indoors, they eat crumbs found under appliances, in drains, behind kitchen cabinets, and on floors. They will also eat pet food that is left open to them. Anything that the American cockroach gnaws on or walks on can be contaminated with bacteria. Unfortunately, you may not know that a cockroach has been there, so surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned and food should never be left exposed.

Character and lifestyle features

Photo: American cockroach in Russia

Photo: American cockroach in Russia

American cockroaches usually live outdoors. They prefer warm, moist places such as flower beds and under mulch. In many parts of the United States, people call them “salmetto beetles” because they live in trees. American cockroaches are very common in the sewer systems of many American cities. American cockroaches enter homes to find water or food.

They can easily pass under doors if weather conditions permit. Basement windows and garages are also shared walkways. When American cockroaches enter homes, they often go to bathrooms, kitchens, laundries and basements.

Mass migrations of American cockroaches are very common. They migrate to houses and apartments from sewers through water pipes, as well as from trees and shrubs located next to buildings or with branches hanging over roofs. During the day, the American cockroach, which reacts negatively to light, rests in harbors near water pipes, sinks, bathtubs and toilets, where the microclimate is suitable for survival.

Most American cockroaches will run for cover when suddenly illuminated, however they will explore areas and rooms that already have light. They should be looked for with a flashlight in dark places, such as under cupboards, shelving, or pallets, or in potentially damp places, such as bathrooms, baths, or basements.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Large American Cockroach

Photo: Large American Cockroach

Female American cockroaches lay their eggs in a secure purse-shaped box. About a week after mating, the female develops an ovarian cyst, and at the peak of her reproductive period, she may form two cysts per week. Females produce on average one egg case per month for ten months, laying 16 eggs per case. The American cockroach has three life stages: an egg, a variable number of larval instars, and an adult. The life cycle from egg to adult is about 600 days on average, and adult life span can be another 400 days.

The female lays the larva near the food source, sometimes sticking it to the surface with a discharge from the mouth. The deposited box contains water sufficient for the development of eggs without obtaining additional water from the substrate. The body of the egg turns brown in storage and turns black after a day or two. It is about 8 mm long and 5 mm high. The larval stage begins when the egg hatches and ends with the appearance of the adult.

The number of times the American cockroach molts varies from six to 14. The American cockroach is white immediately after hatching, then becomes grayish brown. After molting, subsequent specimens of cockroach larvae turn white and then turn reddish brown, with the posterior margins of the thoracic and abdominal segments being darker in color. Full development from egg to adult is about 600 days. Larvae, like adults, actively forage for food and water.

The adult American cockroach is reddish brown in color with a pale brown or yellow stripe along the edge of the pronotum. Males are longer than females because their wings extend 4-8 mm beyond the tip of the abdomen. Males and females have a pair of slender, articulated cerci at the tip of the abdomen. In male cockroaches, the cerci have from 18 to 19 segments, while in females — 13 to 14 segments. Male American cockroaches have a pair of probes between the cerci, while females — no.

Natural enemies of American cockroaches

Photo: What an American cockroach looks like

Photo: What an American cockroach looks like

Several natural hymenopteran enemies of the American cockroach have been found. These parasitic wasps lay their eggs in cockroach egg boxes, preventing American cockroach larvae from appearing. Aprostocetus hagenowii — one of several parasitic wasps that attack the American cockroach. The best way to deal with American cockroaches — this is to prevent them from starting an infestation. Therefore, prevention methods are the first line of defense when dealing with American cockroaches.

Proofing penetration through walls at ground level, removing rotting leaves, and limiting wet areas in and around a structure can also help reduce areas that are attractive to these cockroaches. Other controls are insecticides, which can be applied to basement walls, wood waste, and other infested areas. Residual aerosols can be applied in and around the perimeter of the infected structure. But using them inside a structure is of little value in controlling American cockroaches.

In fact, they can disperse cockroaches, making control difficult and time consuming. When insecticides and aerosols are used to control cockroach populations, they can also eventually wipe out parasitic wasps. Loose, toxic, granular baits are extremely effective in controlling cockroach populations in America.

Population and species status

Photo: American cockroach in apartment

Photo: American cockroach in apartment

Populations of American cockroaches do not seem to be threatened by anything and no one, they are able to survive in any conditions, even in the most extreme ones. The American cockroach traveled on wooden ships and made its way around the globe. It predates man by millions of years.

Fun fact: Cockroaches are one of the most persistent pests in the world. They demonstrate unique survival tactics, including the ability to survive a week without a head.

American cockroach — one of four types of cockroaches considered common pests. The other three kinds of — german, brown striped and oriental cockroach. Although there are approximately 3,500 species of cockroaches found in the world, only 55 species of cockroaches are found in the United States. They are being controlled in many ways and methods.

The most important aspect of the damage from cockroaches stems from their habit of feeding and sheltering in damp and unsanitary places such as sewers, garbage disposal, bathrooms, kitchens, and containers and food storage areas. Dirt from these sources is spread by cockroaches to food and supplies, utensils, utensils, and food preparation surfaces. They contaminate far more food than they can consume.

The American cockroach can become a public health problem due to their association with human waste and disease and their ability to travel from sewers to homes and commercial establishments. Cockroaches are also aesthetically unpleasing because they can stain objects with their excrement.

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