American Cockroach

The Common Cockroach

The American cockroach or water bug has been around for thousands of years even before it came to America.  Known as the periplaneta americana in the science community, it is the largest species of cockroaches known to man.  Often considered a pest, the American cockroach grows to an average length of four to seven centimeters.  It is reddish brown in color as nymphs through adulthood.  The American cockroach body is appears to be a flattened oval with shield looking parts covering its head and wings folded down on its posterior region.  American cockroaches have compound eyes with over two thousand lenses and thus, do not prefer light.  Also, it has chewing mouthparts and long antennae.  The chewing mouthparts are used to consume the diet of decaying organic matter, leather, paper, book bindings, hair, dry or dead skin flakes, clothing, dead animals, and starch.  American cockroaches particularly enjoy feasting on rotting food matter and other dead cockroaches.

American cockroaches can usually be seen traveling at night darting about countertops in infested homes searching for their next meal.  Despite their size, American cockroaches can fit through tiny cracks and is considered to be one of the quickest insects around.  The medical hazard of cockroaches is their potentiality to pick up bacteria on their legs and spread it to food or countertops.  This can lead to food poisoning or other infections.  Cockroaches produce an odorous secretion that alters the taste of food and becomes very strong as the population grows.  Fortunately, the American cockroach does not reproduce as quickly as many other insects.  They go through incomplete metamorphosis with three developmental stages.  Adult females produce eggs that are encased in an ootheca which is deposited out of their abdomen in a safe place.  In less than eight weeks, the cockroaches emerge from the egg as nymphs and in another year, they will mature to the adult stage.  Adult females usually live just one more year and produce less than two hundred eggs.

The History of the American Cockroach

The term cockroach comes from the Spanish word cucaracha which means cockroach.  However, the American cockroach was transported here around 1625 from Africa through shipping containers containing other items.  Many insects not indigenous to the area have arrived from other countries and regions through this means.  They prefer warm, moist areas but have adapted to dry areas as long as they have access to water.  Thus, you will find them in basements, sewers, kitchens, and bathrooms.  American cockroaches are not well adapted to colder climates.

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