Periplaneta americana Linnaeus
The American cockroach is a very common pest deriving from the very large cockroach family. An adult cockroach can reach up to 1 ½ inches long and are reddish-brown in color, both males and females are fully winged. The wings on the male slightly extend over the back of the abdomen, whereas the females wings are the same length as the abdomen.
There are three stages of a cockroach’s life, the egg, nymph (juvenile), and adult. When the process of reproduction begins the female cockroach glues or drops ¼ inch long bean-like egg capsules that contain about 15 eggs, she drops these capsules in or around infested areas. The nymphs then hatch from the eggs resembling the adult cockroach, but at this stage they are smaller, are grayish-brown in color, and have yet to develop wings. These nymphs will molt 10 to 13 times over the course of a year (470 to 600 days depending on temperature) before they become full size adult cockroaches.
This type of cockroach is considered to be “peridomestic”, meaning they live outdoors, normally in warm, moist, humid environments but can survive in drier areas if they have access to water. Some common outdoor structures these cockroaches dwell in are the manholes of sewers, landfills, and on the undersides of metal covers over large sump pumps.
When found indoors American cockroaches are common in areas where food is prepared or stored and moisture is plentiful. They are frequently found in restaurants, grocery stores, and bakeries. They are also associated with commercial kitchens, boiler rooms, and steam tunnels. In and around residential or commercial buildings, American cockroaches usually infest basements, crawl spaces, bathrooms, and decorative landscaping. Indoor populations tend to forage outdoors during warm weather. Similarly, during the winter months, outdoor populations may move inside seeking warmth and moisture.
Cockroaches feed on a wider variety of foods and non-foods including, cheese, beer, leather, bakery products, starch in book bindings, manuscripts, glue, hair, flakes of dried skin, dead animals, plant materials, soiled clothing, and glossy paper with starch sizing. The problem with this cockroach is not what it eats, but where it lives and feeds, which are unsanitary and disease ridden areas such as, sewers, dumps, garbage disposals, kitchens, bathrooms, and indoor storage. Filth from these sources is spread by cockroaches to food supplies, food preparation surfaces, dishes, utensils, and other surfaces. Cockroaches contaminate far more food than they are able to eat.
The health risk with having the American Cockroach in a home or place of business is obvious. These cockroaches carry disease and bacteria on their legs and on the bottom of their abdomens, making it quite easy for them to contaminate food or any other surface they come in contact with. Several bacteria commonly associated with American cockroaches are known to cause food poisoning, dysentery, and diarrhea in humans. However, it should be noted that American cockroaches have never been implicated as the cause of any disease outbreak, so while American cockroaches are known to carry disease organisms, they are not a major disease health threat. American Cockroaches have also been know to carry allergens that can make humans, if they every come in contact with something that has been infected, can cause skin rashes, watery eyes, congestion of nasal passages, asthma, and sneezing.