American Cockroach


Actual Size: 2.1”

Characteristics: Brown to reddish brown; winged

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Primarily live outdoors but can be found in sewers and drains, commercial bathrooms or kitchens, and in homes.


  • Both sexes capable of flight but are poor fliers
  • May carry and transmit disease-causing bacteria
  • Attracted to alcoholic beverages, especially beer

American Cockroaches in the North and East Bay of California

The American cockroach is known by a lot of names, most commonly “water bug” or “palmetto bug”. This roach has a classic appearance that many think of: long antennae, big, red-tinted bodies, and a high-speed run. Despite what its name suggests, the American cockroach is not native to North America and was probably introduced via ships from Africa. They are now abundant throughout the United States and is second only to the German roach in abundance. Adult American roaches live up to a year, but their entire life cycle is about 600 days (from egg to adult).

American roaches are opportunistic feeders and will consume a variety of things. It prefers sweets and starches but has been seen eating paper, pet food, soap, hair, book bindings, cardboard, cloth, dead insects, and other decaying organic material.

American Cockroach Habitat

American cockroaches can be found both inside and outside here in the North Bay and East Bay Area. In nature, the American cockroach is found in bat caves and hollow trees. In urban settings, it is a common inhabitant of sewers, storm drainage systems, prisons, factories, hospitals, and hotels. American cockroaches prefer warm, damp environments and can often be found outdoors around drains, garbage bins, trees, and woodpiles. When these roaches venture inside homes in search of food, they often live in damp areas such as basements, garages, kitchens, and bathrooms.

American Cockroach Behavior, Threats or Dangers

American cockroaches can technically bite, but it is very rare for them to do so. These cockroaches are considered dangerous pests because they breed and feed in unsanitary areas close to humans, such as garbage storage, sewage systems, and septic tanks. American cockroaches have a characteristic odor when present and can contaminate human foods and surfaces with their feces and body parts. Foraging cockroaches can also be vectors of disease, depositing germs or bacteria in areas they inhabit and causing asthma attacks in some people sensitive to cockroach allergens. Because these roaches are one of the most common pests in the Bay Area, it’s important to always enlist the help of your local cockroach exterminators for help with infestations.