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: Primarily live outdoors but can be found in sewers and drains across the north Jersey.


  • Both sexes are capable of flight.
  • Largest of the house-infesting cockroaches.
  • Attracted to alcoholic beverages, especially beer.

American Cockroaches in North Jersey

The American cockroach is known by many names—water bug or palmetto bug, for example— as well as many colorful expletives we won’t mention here. Measuring up to 2 1⁄8″ with reddish-brown wings, it’s the largest of the house-infesting cockroaches. Despite its name, it’s believed that the American cockroach was probably introduced to North America via ships from Africa. It’s found throughout the United States, including New Jersey, and is second only to the German cockroach in pervasiveness. Adult roaches live up to one year and adult females produce an average of 150 offspring each.

American Cockroach Habitat

In nature, the American cockroach can be found in caves and hollow trees. In cities, sewers, storm drains, penitentiaries, factories, hospitals, and hotels are common habitats. The American cockroach is omnivorous and feeds opportunistically, meaning they’ll eat whatever is available. American cockroaches have been observed eating everything from paper to pet food, soap, hair, fruit, book bindings, cardboard boxes, cloth, and dead insects. When American cockroaches venture into homes in search of food, they will take up residence in damp areas like basements, garages, kitchens, and bathrooms.

American Cockroach Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

American cockroaches can bite, but they rarely do. Their primary danger comes from breeding and feeding in unsanitary areas like garbage, sewage, and septic systems. They can then track bacteria and viruses into human habitats, causing disease. 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. American cockroaches also have a characteristic odor.

If you suspect an American cockroach infestation, contact your local cockroach extermination company.