American Cockroaches

Characteristics, Description, Control & How To Kill Them

American Cockroach

Picture of American Cockroach

American roaches are one of the most common found in America. The other is the German Roach. Not sure why it is called "American" since it originated from Africa. Because of wide spread travel, it exists in most areas of the world. It is the largest of roaches in America reaching a length of 1 to 2 inches long. It has wings and unlike the German roach, it can fly short distances, albeit quite clumsily.

Identifying Factors and Characteristics

Reddish brown in color with a yellowish margin on the body behind the head. They are long and slender, twice as long as they are wide. Very thin and can squeeze through very tiny spaces. Juveniles carry a similar shape as the adult but smaller and wingless. They can be described as somewhat oval-shaped, and flat with spiny legs.

American roaches run very quickly. In fact a University of California study measured its speed at 3.4 miles per hour which means it can run at a pace of 50 body lengths per second. That would be comparable to a human running at 210 MPH.

Adult females, which can live up to a year after reaching adulthood will produce an average 150 young roaches during its lifespan. The female carries a egg case (protruding from the tip of its abdomen) for a couple of days before placing it on a surface in a safe location. Baby American cockroaches emerge 6-8 weeks later and reach adult status in 6-12 months.

Habitat, Where American Roaches Hangout

Some good news for homeowners. Although they do invade homes. the American cockroach is more often found in commercial areas and establishments like restaurants and grocery stores. American roaches are fond of sewers and street drainage areas which likely explains why they are more often found in commercial districts.

But they do invade homes as well. Homes that are near sewer lines and street drains are particularly vulnerable. Since they forage at night, they will emerge and climb fences looking for food. Usually they nest outside, but will nest in basements and crawl spaces.

They prefer outside but when colder weather arrives, they will seek the warmer comfort inside homes and buildings. When the weather warms, they will again move outside into sewer systems, alleyways and other very moist nesting spots. They will live in your yard in areas that contain standing water and under stacks of leaves.

Best Way To Control and Kill American Roaches

The best natural plans of action. Remove items in your yard that collect standing, stagnant water. Remove debris and piles of leaves. Seal entry points into your home or business. And most important, practice good sanitation and cleanliness outside and inside.


If you find an American cockroach in your home, it's likely a seasonal or occasional guest since they are more likely to nest outdoors. If you find one, it is a sure indication its nest is near the home and identifying its location is of prime importance in deciding other ways to control these pests.

Insecticide Barriers

If the source of American roaches is from nearby city sewers or street drains, it is almost impossible to eliminate them. But there are ways to keep them to a minimum nuisance. Boric acid is a white powder insecticide that is lethal to roaches. It can be purchased in 'squeeze" containers that are used to puff light dusting of boric acid along travel patterns, cracks and crevices. A great place to dust is along the top edges and bottom edges of fences near city sewer lines.

Boric acid is only slightly more toxic than regular table salt when used as directed. It is a slow-acting killer of all types of roaches as well as other kinds of insects. When they walk across dusted areas, they take boric acid residue with them when returning to the nest.

Roaches will preen each other consuming the boric acid powder which is poisonous to their digestive system and will kill them within a day or two. The poison is also emitted in sputum and feces which the young roaches feed upon. Roaches will also eat the corpses of dead roaches which will spread the infection to other roaches.


Roach Gel Baits. Gel baits applied along the edges of where roaches travel are effective. Apply then on fences near streets and alleyways, and cracks and crevices. Roach bait stations that enclose the bait are not usually viable because the American type of roach is too large to get inside of the container.

Gel baits when applied directly to corners, ledges, and crevices are best and works on all types of roaches. Low volumes of insecticides are mixed with food attractants to entice roaches. The active insecticide has a delayed kill giving the infected roach time to return to its nest.

Other roaches will eat its feces and later its corpse transferring the poison to other roaches in the nest. Do not spray liquid insecticide anywhere near the gel bait because it may repel cockroaches away from the bait itself.

More About Roach Gel Baits

Spray a safe yet effective liquid insecticide around the perimeter of your home, restaurant or building. Use the least toxic product that will accomplish the goal of a quick kill or repelling advantages.

A great choice is CY-Kick CS. Its active ingredient is Cyfluthrin which is a Pyrethrin, a biological extract derived from a certain variety of Chrysanthemum flowers. It is a low-toxic insecticide that when mixed with water will create a low concentration of active insecticide. It is active for a up to 3 months and will kill roaches soon after contact.

You will need a sprayer unless you use a professional pest control operator to make the application. Cover an area about 2 feet from the foundation and about 2 feet up the outside wall around the entire perimeter. The product will also kill many other types of insects and spiders. Always read the label carefully for safety and application directions.

CY-Kick CS Product Label
CY-Kick CS Material Safety Data Sheet

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This page was last modified on 2 October 2012 at 16:13