The American Cockroach

Trey ClawsonPest Archives

American Cockroach Crawling On Wood

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The American Cockroach is also known as The Water Bug, The Palmetto Bug, or The Croton Bug
~ a bug of many names…



  • An American Cockroach sitting on a muffin
  • American Cockroach climbing a plant
  • American Cockroach sitting on an arm of a chair
  • Diagram of the Life Cycle of an American Cockroach


Description – what it looks like; size, coloring, etc.

The American Cockroach, also known as The Water Bug, The Palmetto Bug, or The Croton Bug, typically grows to a length of about 1½” and about ¼“ tall. These guys are the iconic image that you picture in your head when someone says “ROACH!!”. They are a reddish-brown and have a yellowish area on their body just behind their head. They also have wings and can “fall with style” like Buzz Lightyear. Unlike other cockroaches, American Cockroach Nymphs (roach adolescents [that’s a made up term, but you get the picture]) are a “Mini-Me” version of an adult just without wings.

Habitat, Behaviors, Preferences, etc.

While these guys love moist areas, as long as they have access to water, they can survive in dry areas (like attics) for some time. Their ideal weather is cloudy with a high of 84ºF (they get really cranky if the sun comes out and the temperature rises to 85ºF [just because I made that fact up doesn’t mean it’s not true…]). Waterbugs very much so prefer sewers, flowerbed mulch, heavy foliage, palm trees, and decomposing matter. Now just because these guys have their preferences, they have no qualms with trying to get into your home when the temperature gets too hot or cold, if it gets too dry or wet, or if you leave the door open and they think you’re inviting them in for dinner (they are very polite and will not turn away a gracious offer like that). Speaking of dinner, while Palmetto Bugs can easily fast for 2-3 months, they LOVE to eat! Their favorite foods include baked goods, cheeses, beer, fermenting foods, plant matter, starch in book bindings, manuscripts, glue, glossy paper, leather, dead animals, soiled clothing, hair, fingernail clippings, and flakes of dead skin just to name a few… Oh, I forgot to mention that since these guys are omnivorous and opportunistic feeders, they will even feed upon dead or wounded Cockroaches of their own or other species!

Fun Fact, or maybe more gross than fun

Cockroaches (not just Patriotic ones) secrete an oily liquid that is not pleasant to the nose, it’s kind of musky and nauseating. When they are crawling around this secretion will get on things like clothes, dishes, food, and anything else the bug crawls on. One… Three… Ten roaches is not really noticeable but once you get an infestation… Now, when they get that bad, the smell is the least of your concerns because with a horde comes allergens. When cockroaches walk on things, touch food with their antennas, defecate, shed their skin, and leave their dead just laying around they can cause severe rashes, asthma attacks, and other allergic reactions… So it’s best to make sure these guys stay outside where they are actually useful tending to the trees and flowerbeds.

Effective Control

There are a few things you can do for effective control.

  1. Make sure that all of your windows and doors are sealed properly
  2. Place a mesh barrier in your weep holes
  3. Reduce foliage immediately surrounding your home
  4. Make sure that any near by trees or bushes do not have limbs up against your home nor touching your roof
  5. Have a Pest Control Professional bait and/or place a pesticide barrier around your home to keep the unwanted guests out

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About the Author

Trey Clawson

Trey is a Certified Applicator and an Authorized Speaker in the State of Texas. He has a wife of 12 years that he is madly in love with and 3 kids that he adores. He likes bringing home random pest findings, like nests and such, and dissecting them with the kids at the kitchen table!(It's worth noting however, his wife is not too fond of him using the kitchen table...)