The american cockroach, Periplaneta americana....Photo by Gary Alpert

The American cockroach, Periplaneta americana. (cc) Photo by Gary Alpert

American cockroaches are some of the nastiest bugs found in the United States. Every state has some area that is infested with these diseases carrying bugs, including California. Those who have the misfortune of dealing with roaches are left with more questions than answers.

What do American cockroaches look like? What do they eat? Why are they attracted to my home? How can I get rid of them and prevent them from returning?

Here are a few of the basics regarding the American cockroach:

What does the American roach look like and what does it eat?

American cockroaches are reddish brown in color and will have yellow markings on their sides. Both sexes of the American roach will have wings, but don’t fly very far. They can be anywhere from ½ an inch to 3 inches long… Making them one of the largest cockroaches that commonly invade US homes.

American cockroaches will eat just about anything they can; cosmetics, beer, potted plants, wallpaper, fermenting fruit and a variety of materials are all some of their favorite foods.

What do American cockroaches do all day and night?

The American roaches are more frequently found living outside, but can sometimes be found inside homes. When inside, the American cockroach will be found wherever it can find food. Dark basements, bathrooms, and kitchens provide the perfect cover. They can survive very well in these areas.

A female American roach can lay up to 10 egg capsules, and can hold up to 15 eggs per capsule. What this means is that a few roaches infesting your home can quickly turn into a severe problem. American cockroaches multiply fast!

American Cockroach Photo by Colin Ybarra

An American cockroach photographed in a house in Portland, Texas. (cc) Photo by Colin Ybarra

How can you prevent American roaches from infesting your home?

The best way to keep the American roaches out of your home is to make sure you don’t bring them in. Many times American roaches, will try to hitch a ride into your home from the boxes, and the grocery bags you bring in from the store.

American cockroaches also enter our homes by easily passing under doors and windows with poor weather stripping. If the weather stripping in your home is damaged or not securely snug, you’re going to have pest problems. Other common entryways include basement windows and garages.

Additionally, keeping areas inside your home clean, dry, and void of food debris is the best way to insure a roach free home.

What to do if your home is infested with American cockroaches:

If your home is already infested with the American roach you should call a pro. A roach exterminator, with technicians that are trained and licensed, will be able to spot the infestation source and treat it with all the right products. They will make sure to properly control American roaches and keep them out of your home.

How to benefit science by sharing dead American cockroaches:

The following is not for the squeamish, but for the citizen scientist. The Rockefeller University is conducting the National Cockroach Project, DNA barcoding the American cockroach. The study’s scientists are collecting American cockroach samples from across the U.S.  In Silicon Valley and San Diego County, Thrasher Termite & Pest Control, Inc. is assisting in this project. You can help too by asking your pest control company to bag up to ten (dead) American Cockroaches from your property and then ship them following the instructions on the National Cockroach Project website.