American Cockroaches

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Identification

  • Colour Reddish-brown
  • Size From 28 mm to 43 mm long
  • Description Have long, flat, wide bodies, with six legs, two long antennae protruding from the head, and a light-brown/yellow band on their thorax.
  • Notes Are among the fastest running insects in the world, travelling up to 50 body lengths per second, and able to fly short distances.

General Facts

The American cockroach is now common in tropical climates. It is the largest species of common cockroach and a pest when found in homes. The American cockroach is considered to be one of the fastest running insects in the world, travelling at speed of up to 50 body lengths per second. And, unlike most cockroaches, it is also able to fly short distances using its wings. In large infestations, there is a strong odour of the secretions produced by these insects.

The American cockroach is also known as the “waterbug” and is often mistakenly called the “palmetto bug”; the latter is actually the Florida woods Cockroach. The American cockroach is not native to North America but believed to have been transported from Africa during the 1600s.

Appearance

The American Cockroach, Periplaneta Americana, is one of the most common species of cockroaches in Canada and may grow to approximately three to five centimetres long. Both males and females are approximately the same size. Males have wings that extend slightly beyond the abdomen, and females may appear broader in the abdomen. Both sexes have additional jointed appendages at the tip of the abdomen called cerci. Males also possess additional appendages at the rear of the abdomen called stylets. The body of the insect appears flat, which allows for easy entry through cracks and other openings to the home.

Life Cycle, Reproduction, & Eggs

The American cockroach is a commonly encountered structure infesting cockroach in some parts of Canada. It typically grows up to 5 cm in length and has brownish-red colouring. The flat body allows American cockroaches to easily access homes and businesses through cracks and holes in walls, foundations, and sewers. Like other cockroach species, the American cockroach lays its eggs in an egg capsule which is called an “ootheca”.

Measuring around 8 millimetres, American cockroach oothecae are dark brown in colour and symmetrical in shape with each ootheca containing about 16 eggs. The female cockroach drops the egg capsule within a day of formation and produces a new ootheca about every nine to 10 days. Throughout their year-long lives, female American cockroach produces on average 10 egg capsules but can reach maximum of up to 30. The ootheca contains enough water to sufficiently nurture eggs until hatching. Young American cockroaches hatch in 24 to 60 days. The rate of development from egg to adult depends upon the environmental temperature.

Habitat and Behaviour

The American cockroach is most likely to be found in and around restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, home kitchens, and other food preparation areas. Cockroaches tend to prefer areas that are warm and humid. Like most indoor pests, they are looking for sources of food and water as well as a safe place to rest and reproduce.

American cockroaches are omnivorous and scavengers and they will feed on almost anything available. However, they do starchy foods, flour and fermented products.

Problems/Damage

Although cockroaches are not often associated with damage caused to buildings and vegetation, they have the potential to do great harm as they travel through various habitats, including refuse heaps and sewers. Cockroaches contaminate food with their feces and defensive secretions, as well as carrying pathogenic organisms on the feet and legs. They can carry intestinal diseases such as diarrhoea, dysentery, typhoid fever, and cholera. People who experience frequent and prolonged exposure to cockroaches may develop mild to severe allergic reactions such as dermatitis, itching, swelling of the eyelids, and serious respiratory conditions.

American Cockroach Infestation

As the largest cockroach species to infest Canadian homes, American cockroaches are often easier to identify. Reddish-brown in colour and measuring up to 5 centimetres in length, it is larger than any other structure infesting cockroach species found in Canada. Like other cockroach species, American cockroaches typically remain out of sight in the home and force residents to look for other signs of infestation. The insects prefer to hide out in dark harbourage sites with ample warmth and moisture. Nocturnal by nature, American cockroaches that emerge to move about the home during the day often signal the presence of a large population.

Signs of Activity or Infestation

Even when American cockroaches evade human detection, these insects frequently leave behind evidence of an infestation. One of the most obvious signs of an American cockroach infestation is seeing live adult cockroaches or the faeces deposited on countertops and other household surfaces. Slightly smaller than mouse dropping (3mm long), the faeces of American cockroaches appears blunt and ridged when magnified. Other signs of infestations include noticing eggs capsules both hatched and unhatched in concealed harbourage areas around the home and seeing newly hatched live nymphs and their cast skins as they molt.

Removal Challenges

For effective control and elimination American cockroach infestations, Canadian residents should take advantage of the expertise and services provided by a pest control professional. The removal of American cockroaches often proves challenging, as the insects hide in frequently overlooked places and scatter quickly when discovered. A high birth rate and the ability to survive in micro environments with minimal food sources also make American cockroaches difficult to eradicate without professional assistance. Pest control products such as baits and aerosol sprays, often used improperly by home owners, are often ineffective. For effective and total control of cockroach infestations, it is always best to contact a pest control specialist with the specialized tools and knowledge necessary to handle the problem successfully.

 

Why do I have American cockroaches?

American cockroaches, commonly mistaken for palmetto bugs, or Florida woods cockroaches, prefer warm, humid environments and are always on the lookout for food, water, shelter, and a safe place to reproduce.

They will feed on anything, but are attracted to starchy foods, flour and fermented products, so often invade restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, home kitchens, and other food preparation areas, entering through cracks in walls, foundations, and sewers.

How worried should I be about American cockroaches?

American cockroaches contaminate food with their feces and defensive secretions, and carry pathogenic organisms on the feet and legs. They can also carry intestinal diseases such as diarrhoea, dysentery, typhoid fever, and cholera.

People who experience frequent and prolonged exposure to cockroaches may develop mild to severe allergic reactions, such as dermatitis, itching, swelling of the eyelids, and serious respiratory conditions.

But cockroaches are among the most resilient pests in the world and once American cockroaches have invaded your home or business, you will need the help of a professional pest control service to eradicate the infestation and stop these pests coming back.

How can I prevent American cockroaches invading?

Vacuum all cracks and crevices, Clean up crumbs and spills promptly, Sweep or vacuum food and debris on floors, Do not leave food or water out overnight, Clean counters, sinks, and tables with soapy water, Take out trash in closed plastic containers, Keep waste containers washed and clean, Wash dirty dishes and utensils immediately, Fix leaky faucets and water pipes, Increase ventilation to prevent condensation

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