American Cockroach


Actual Size: 2.1”

Characteristics: Brown to reddish-brown; winged.

Legs: 6

Wings: Yes, adults have wings and can fly.

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Frequently found outdoors or in sewers and drains across the northern United States. More likely to be spotted outdoors in shaded gardens throughout the southern states.


  • Both males and females have wings and can fly.
  • Drawn to alcoholic beverages, particularly beer.
  • Are the largest cockroaches that infest homes in the United States.

American Cockroaches in the Pacific Northwest

American cockroaches – also known as water bugs or palmetto bugs – are very common throughout the United States. Contrary to their name, these roaches are not native to North America and were likely transported via ships from Africa. Measuring over 2″ when fully grown, these insects are the largest house-infesting cockroach in the country.  Both male and female American cockroaches also grow reddish-brown wings, which allow them to fly. Throughout their 1-year lifetime, females are capable of producing over 150 young, which can cause an infestation to grow rapidly if it isn’t spotted early.

American Cockroach Habitat

Outdoors, American cockroaches typically reside in places like hollowed-out trees or bat caves. When in an urban setting, however, these roaches frequently infest sewers, storm drainage systems, factories, hospitals, prisons, and other human-inhabited areas. American cockroaches are also omnivores and scavengers that will eat almost anything, from pet food and fruit to hair and soap. These insects have also been seen feeding on things like book bindings, fabric, or other dead insects. Because American cockroaches prefer warm and damp areas, they may also occupy areas such as trash cans, basements, or bathrooms.

American Cockroach Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Though American cockroaches rarely bite, they can be a huge health concern because they often carry dangerous bacteria. Because these roaches live in unsanitary places – such as garbages, sewage systems, or septic tanks – they can easily transmit deadly germs to humans. If an American cockroach infestation is nearby, there may be a noticeable musky odor along with feces or shed body parts. Since American cockroaches pose such a safety concern, it is best to call a professional cockroach exterminator if you suspect there is an infestation in or near your home.