American Cockroach Identification — Control: Get Rid of American Cockroach

American Cockroaches

How to Identify American Cockroaches

Latin Name

Periplaneta americana


Length: Adults can be slightly more than 50 mm (3 inches) long.

Color: Adult American cockroaches are reddish brown or mahogany colored. The area behind their heads is outlined with a yellow band.


Female American cockroaches make protective cases for their eggs. These cases are capsule-shaped. After forming a capsule, the roach deposits it in a warm, humid area. An average American roach egg capsule contains about 16 eggs.

When the eggs hatch, the tiny nymphs come out of the capsule. As they grow, the baby cockroaches shed their skins. If there is plenty of food, American cockroaches can develop from egg to adult in as little as 5½ months.

Behavior & Diet

Both male and female American cockroaches can fly. The wings develop when the roaches become adults.

American cockroaches normally live outdoors. They prefer warm, damp areas like flowerbeds, and under mulch. In many parts of the United States people call them “palmetto bugs” because they live on trees. American cockroaches are very common in sewer systems of many American cities.

American cockroaches enter homes to find water or food. They can easily pass under doors if the weather stripping is damaged. Basement windows and garages are also common entryways. When American cockroaches enter homes, they often go to bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and basements.

Outdoors, American cockroaches eat leaves, tiny wood particles, fungi and algae. They also eat small insects. Indoors, American cockroaches forage under appliances, in drains, in kitchen cabinets and on the floor. They eat crumbs, scraps of food and spilled food that they find. They will also eat pet food that is left out overnight.

Signs of American Cockroach Infestation

Homeowners may see these active cockroaches. American roaches can run very fast, and they usually scurry into a dark area. If they are startled, American roaches may even fly.


American cockroaches leave their droppings in the dark areas where they hide. Homeowners may find these droppings in basements, in pantries or behind appliances.

American cockroach droppings are small, and sometimes people mistake them for mouse droppings. American cockroach droppings have ridges on the sides and they are blunt on the ends. Mouse droppings have pointed ends. Since mice groom themselves, mouse droppings often have hairs embedded in them.

Egg Capsules

American cockroach egg cases are about 38 mm long. They are dark-colored—reddish or blackish brown. Homeowners often find these egg cases in basements, in laundry rooms or kitchens. The egg cases may be under cabinets or behind appliances. American cockroaches also deposit their egg capsules behind stored items in garages and sheds.


Cockroaches produce a chemical called an “aggregation pheromone.” The odor of this chemical causes the roaches to stay together in groups. Some people describe the odor of these pheromones as having a “musty” smell. As the roach population starts to grow, people with sensitive noses may begin to notice this odor.

How Did I Get American Cockroaches?

American cockroaches enter home to find water or food. They can easily pass under doors if the weather stripping is damaged. Basement windows and garages are also common entryways. When American cockroaches enter homes, they often go to bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms and basements.

How Serious are American Cockroaches?

Cockroaches are filthy pests. They can spread disease, contaminate our food and cause allergies and even asthma. Cockroaches can pick up germs on their legs and bodies as they crawl through decaying matter or sewage and then transfer these germs to food or onto food surfaces. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), they are proven or suspected carriers of the organisms causing diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, leprosy, plague, typhoid fever and viral diseases such as poliomyelitis.

Orkin encourages people to help reduce cockroach populations by removing all food and unnecessary water sources, sealing all cracks and crevices, vacuuming and removing shelter sites like cardboard and paper. To effectively manage a serious cockroach infestation, you must correctly identify the type of cockroach causing the infestation, which is why it is important to contact a pest control professional.

How Do I get Rid of American Cockroaches

The Orkin Man™ is trained to help manage American cockroaches. Since every home is different, the Orkin technician will design a unique program for your situation.

Keeping American cockroaches out of your home is an ongoing process, not a one-time treatment. Orkin’s exclusive A.I.M. solution is a continuing cycle of three critical steps—Assess, Implement and Monitor.

The Orkin Man™ can provide the right solution to help keep American cockroaches in their place … out of your home.

Assess the situation

Your Orkin technician will do a thorough inspection of your home—inside and outside. There are several things the technician will do during the inspection:

  • Locate areas of American cockroach activity.
  • Identify the causes of the American cockroach problem.
  • Look for entryways that American cockroaches could be using to get into your home.

Implement a customized solution

Since “cookie-cutter” treatments aren’t always effective, the technician will customize the treatment to the situation. He can select from a variety of tools and techniques to help keep American cockroaches out of your home:

  • Exclusion–Nonchemical methods such as caulking or door sweeps help keep American cockroaches from entering your home.
  • Landscape modification—If American roaches are living around your home, it may be necessary to remove dead leaves or rake mulch away from the foundation. The technician will point out these opportunities.
  • Gel or granular bait—These are applied in areas where American cockroaches will eat them but children or pets cannot reach them.
  • Insect growth regulator—Applied into cockroach hiding places, these interfere with the cockroaches’ normal development.
  • Residual insecticides—Applied into cracks and crevices, these help keep American cockroaches from hiding in the treated areas. The technician may also apply liquid insecticide outdoors to help keep American cockroaches from coming inside.
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Every time the technician returns to your home, he or she will make an inspection. There are several things he will do during the inspection:

  • Confirm that previous treatment was effective.
  • Check for new American cockroach activity.
  • Identify changes to the home or landscape that could make your home vulnerable to American cockroach invasion.

The Orkin Man™ can provide the right solution to keep American cockroaches in their place … out of your home. For more information or to schedule an inspection, please contact your local Orkin branch office.

Convenient, Lasting and Affordable Treatment

The Orkin Man™ can work around your schedule. In many cases, treatments will be made on the outside—sometimes with no need for you to be at home.

On-Going Process

Keeping American cockroaches out of your home is an on-going collaborative process, not a one-time event. Orkin’s A.I.M. solution is the ideal way to help keep these pests where they belong—outside your home.


While it might seem easy to quote a service price online, in fact it really is almost impossible. Since every home is unique, no two treatment plans should be exactly the same. The best way to prescribe an effective treatment plan and to quote an accurate price is by having a trained professional complete a comprehensive inspection.

More Information

The American cockroach is also commonly known as the water bug, flying water bug or palmetto bug. These large cockroaches can grow to exceed 50 cm 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 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.

American cockroaches are moderate 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.

Baby Roaches Are Dangerous: What You Need to Do NOW!

What does seeing baby roaches in your home mean? The answer is you have a major problem. They are a sign of severe infestation, and they scream DANGER! You’ll have hundreds, even thousands more very soon here if you don’t stop them. Follow the instructions here to find out what you need to do ASAP.

Quick Solution

For those of you who are a little short on time, here is a quick summary of what you need to do right away.

  1. You will need pesticide/lawn fertilizer sprayer to apply the pesticide and IGR that will put a stop to them.
  2. Treat your house with a combination of DemonWP and Gentrol. DemonWP is a hard to beat pesticide that will kill them within seconds of contact. Gentrol is an insect growth regulator that will stop the nymphs and juveniles from ever reaching adulthood; meaning they won’t be able to produce more roaches.
  3. Use sticky traps. Bait the center of the traps with small amounts of sugar/fatty baits. Catchmaster is my favorite.

What Do Cockroaches Look Like As Babies?

You need to know the difference between small adults, juveniles or babies. Know the average size of the type of cockroach you are dealing with and know what they look like (colors, wings, stripes, etc.).

The babies are much smaller than the adults; which is why you need to know the average size of an adult. The first thing you need to do is determine which type of cockroach you’re dealing with. Once you know what you’re dealing with and how big an adult is supposed to be, you can quickly just compare them visually. If there are a few that are smaller than what they’re supposed to be, then you’re dealing with nymphs or younger, non-adult roaches.

Juveniles and nymphs are also not fully developed. They will usually not possess certain features of an adult. Many species of roaches will have wings and stripes. If it’s missing wings entirely, and the adults are known to have wings, then you know what they are.

What it Means to See Them in Your House

Like I said above, having baby roaches means you’ve got a cockroach problem, and it is a big one. If nymphs and juveniles are running around, then that means some adults are reproducing and creating more and more of them.

The tiny bit of good news is it doesn’t always necessarily mean you have a full-blown infestation yet. Although, I’ll have to be honest and say that the chances of that are pretty slim at this point.

If you got lucky, then it could just mean you are about to get hit with a significant problem. However, this issue is going to explode very soon, and when it does, it’s going to be very difficult to solve should. That’s why you need to stop those roaches before they get that chance to make your life a living hell.

A super slim chance

Ok, the chances of this being true are very rare, but it’s still a possibility, so I felt I needed to mention this. You may have just introduced an egg sac from the outside, and it just hatched; this is usually from cardboard boxes and other packaging. Or it could be that a female cockroach carrying an egg had hitchhiked itself into your home, or came from somewhere else. Either way, it doesn’t change anything.

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What does an egg look like? You can find more details and learn to identify them here. A single egg sac, depending on the species of the cockroach, can contain maybe over 40 eggs or more. While this is a possibility, I would say that it is likely not the case. It’s best to assume the worst and treat it as so.

You want to stop them right now, and nothing else will get the job done faster. Not killing them ASAP could give them the chance to grow, reproduce and explode the population—the one thing you want to avoid.

What Does it Mean When You See a White Cockroach?

The chances of seeing white cockroaches are rare. Although, a white cockroach in itself is not very rare at all. In fact, all roaches are white at numerous stages of their lives. A cockroach will be white right after it has molted, or has just hatched from an egg.

They are white because their exoskeleton has not set and turned dark yet (the color you are used to seeing). After molting, or hatching, it will take several hours for their skeleton to harden and darken in color.

You won’t see white roaches too often because they’re incredibly vulnerable to predators and injuries. It’s also tough for them to move around freely and quickly. Without a hardened protective exoskeleton, they tend to stay well hidden to keep alive.

Should you be concerned if you see white roaches? Yes, you should be worried. It’s a definite sign they are molting; in other words, they are growing. They were juveniles, and now they’re growing into adults. Once a cockroach molts into an adult, it becomes entirely capable of reproducing and creating hundreds more. If you haven’t seen any identifiable baby cockroach yet, a white cockroach is a clear sign that you do indeed have them.

Why They’re Dangerous

Why are they dangerous? What are the risks should you choose to ignore them? As I said a few times already, the most significant threat is a giant infestation. If you already have an outbreak, then their numbers and the problems they bring with them will only multiply and get worse.

Leaving them alone and allowing the population to explode will only cost you more in wasted money to remove them, wasted time, and a lot of frustration and stress; because it will seem like nothing will dent their numbers no matter what you do, try, or hire.

Why Do They Multiply So Fast?

Let’s not forget that one single female can produce an egg sac that contains over 50 roaches or more. One female will also produce multiple egg sacs within one lifetime. One single cockroach can produce hundreds more. You don’t just have a single cockroach in your home. There is a good chance you have hundreds or maybe even thousands of them that could produce hundreds more. There are so many of them, and each one is able to multiply the numbers by up to 50 times. This is what makes them dangerous and why they can multiply so fast.

What to Do

The only thing you need to do is get rid of them. That means to kill them off. There’s no time to find a friendlier way of removing them. After all, you can’t just ask them to move out. Even if we were in some bizarre, alternate world, where they understood you, they wouldn’t even bother to consider your request anyway.

You have two options. One, you hire a professional exterminator to come and take care of everything. Or two, you kill them yourself; and you do it immediately. Option number one is great for those who can afford the extra monthly expenses. However, option number two is way more practical for most of us who have a tighter budget.

How to Get Rid of Them Permanently

If you want to eliminate them yourself, then do the following:

  1. SprayDemonWP, or another capable contact killer, using a sprayer
  2. Use traps (such as the Catchmaster glue traps) to catch any others that might have missed the contact killer by luck. There are other traps you can use as well.
  3. Mix and apply an insect growth regulator (I recommend Gentrol) to stop them from maturing into adults that can reproduce.

Alternatively, you can also use another slower, but still very effective, and in my opinion, a more permanent method of dealing with them including:

  • Boric acid
  • Roach baits. Which roach bait works best? I’d recommend checking out my my in-depth coverage of Advion’s roach bait.

I recommend hitting them hard and fast with contact killers, traps and then IGRs. Once the number of juveniles stops increasing, you can switch over to baits and boric acid. Or you can even start considering a more natural remedy. Whatever you choose, you need to make sure they can produce more first by stopping them as fast as possible.

Insect Growth Regulators: The Secret Weapon

If you choose to exterminate them yourself, then you need to know about IGR, or insect growth regulators. I mentioned them a few times earlier, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to use IGRs with; regardless of which method you choose to use.

You can’t use IGRs alone though because they will not kill. Just as their name implies, they are only growth regulators. That means they stop baby roaches from molting into adults. Stopping the juveniles from reaching adulthood means preventing them from becoming capable of reproducing.

IGR’s are imitated juvenile hormones. For an immature cockroach to molt into an adult, there has to be no trace of adolescent hormones left in their body. Exposing them to these imitated hormones trick their body into thinking they are not ready to molt into adults.

So as you can see they don’t kill them. Growth regulators just stop them from being able to reproduce. Keep in mind that this does not affect adult roaches whatsoever. Again, it doesn’t kill cockroaches. It is critical to remember this fact because so many people have attempted to use IGRs alone for adults, only to get mediocre results and give up.

When you’re looking for an IGR to use, you’re probably run into various brands. Each manufacturer may use different active ingredients, or it may say something different on the label. It doesn’t matter what’s in it as long as it’s an IGR, it should do the job just fine.

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The IGR’s I recommend most are:

Remember to read the labels, warnings, and instructions before you use it. You can also mix them right in with a pesticide in the same sprayer.

Don’t delay and let this problem grow into an even bigger one that can potentially get beyond your control. If you see baby roaches in the kitchen or anywhere in your home at all then, learn to identify them correctly (more details about identification can be found here), and follow the steps here to get rid of them for good.

Oriental Cockroaches

Oriental Cockroach Identification

Oriental Roaches are commonly called water bugs or black beetles.This cockroach is shiny black and is about 1.25 inches long. They have wings, but the male or female roach can not fly. The total length for the female is 1 ¼» and 1″ for the male. The females have small nonfunctional wings while the males have wings that cover about ¾ of the abdomen, nether the female or male can fly. Adults are very dark brown or black in color.

Oriental Roach Diet

The Oriental roach like decayed organic matter in mulch piles and rubbish. The Oriental cockroach prefers starchy food, and builds up populations around garbage cans.
Most of their water consumption is gotten through their food and the moisture around them.

Habits and Biology of Oriental Cockroaches

Females produce an average of 8 egg Capsules, containing 16 eggs in each,from spring to mid-summer. Unlike other urban cockroaches, the Oriental roach produces only one generation per year where temperatures are cool in winter.

The female will carry the egg capsule(irregularly shaped,black,3/8″ long,and 1/4″wide), for around 30 hours and then drops or attaches it in a protected area, near a food supply. The eggs hatch in about 60 days under warm conditions. At least 75% of the eggs must hatch to open the capsule.

The young become adults in 6-12 months. Nymphs(young) are active from about March through much of the summer. During this period they molt seven to ten times, and are reddish-brown to black in color, except in the first stage when they are pale tan. The older brown Oriental cockroach nymphs are very difficult to distinguish from the American cockroach nymphs.

This type of roach will have seasonal cycle in it’s development. They peak to adults during the spring and early summer, dwindling in numbers by the late summer/early fall. Nymphs(young) are active from about March through much of the summer. During this period they molt seven to ten times, and are reddish-brown to black in color, except in the first stage when they are pale tan. The older brown Oriental cockroach nymphs are very difficult to distinguish from the American cockroach nymphs.

In early spring, only adult Oriental cockroaches are found. By late spring, nymphs are abundant. As nymphal numbers increase, the adults die off and by August any adults are new ones. By fall, almost the entire population is adult.

Inside they can be found in damp areas such as basements, crawl spaces,and kitchens, indoors and outside.

They are usually found at or below ground level in yards, beneath leaves, in dumps, in the mulch of flower beds and in high moisture situations such as sewers, drains and dark, damp basements. They favor crawl spaces, spaces between the soil and building foundations, the undersides of stoops and sidewalks, landscaping mulches, water meters, basements and their floor drains, and other such moist places.

These cockroaches frequently live in floor drains that drain directly outside; these drains are also used as entrances to homes.
They tolerate lower temperature ranges than other roaches and may winter in rock walls or such protected sites.

During times of drought there may be movement towards the inside of the home, but generally speaking they are found outdoors during the warmer months. They may also move inside if it is unseasonably cold.

Recommendations for Oriental Roach Control

  • Caulk all penetrations through ground level walls.
  • Stop water leaks, screen equipment overflow drains, and take overflow water away from buildings; keep drain traps full or capped.
  • Remove rotting leaves from window wells.
  • Move garbage cans out of preferred moist habitat.
  • Ventilate moist spaces.

Generally speaking, control measures should concentrate on the outside of the building and points of entry. This is called a «perimeter or barrier» treatment.

Recommended residual sprays for perimeter treatments, basements and attics

Lambdastar Ultracap 9.7

LambdaStar Ultracap 9.7 (Broader label and longer lasting-may be used inside or outside and will dry invisible. Lambdastar Ultracap has no smell. LambdaStar Ultracap will last longer outside and adhere to the surface better due to its encapuslated technology.

Cyper WSP and Demon WP

Cyper WSP
Cyper WSP and Demon WP have the same label, but Cyper WSP is more economical.

Demon WP and Cyper WSP will leave a visible residue seen against dark wood.

D-Fense SC

D-Fense SC will also dry invisibly with no smell. It can be used inside or outside. The pint will yield 11-22 gallons.

Where to spray:
You may use three residual sprays : LambdaStar Ultra Cap 9.7, Cyper WSP or Demon WP inside or outside.

Spray outside around doors, windows, pipe openings, and dryer vents. Apply also on the inside on the baseboards near the entry pts.

On the inside-apply around the plumbing under the sinks and washer and dryer connections. You don’t have to spray all the interior baseboards, just the corners and baseboards inside the garage and basement areas.

For additional treatment: You may apply Bifen LP Granules around the base of the house, particularly in areas of pine straw and mulched areas and or Intice Perimeter Bait as supplemental treatments. If you have these larger cockroaches entering inside your home from the attic area (due to trees that overhang the attic or gutters that are not clean) using baits like Intice insect baits, would give you very good results.

Intice Perimeter Bait not only works well around the perimeter, but would also be excellent choices for crawl spaces and or attics.

The residual insecticides : LambdaStar UltraCap 9.7, Cyper WSP, and Demon WP as well as the residual granulars: Bifen LP Granules should be repeated every three months during the season.

The Intice baits last from 6 months to a year, free from rain. Feel free to call if you have any questions.

* photograph of the Oriental cockroach is courtesy of: University of Lincoln-Nebraska Dept. of Entomology

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