Not a lot can be more unsettling than finding a pest in your home, especially if it’s a cockroach or, even worse, a huge cockroach. In fact, some of these insects can be quite large, and chances are good that the big cockroach you saw in your home was an American cockroach.

What's that Giant Cockroach in Your House?

Read on to learn more about these cockroaches and why they may wind up inside your house.

What is the American cockroach?

The American cockroach is a reddish-brown cockroach that ranges in length from 1 ½ inches to 2 inches, making them the largest house-infesting cockroach in the country. In the South, they’re commonly referred to as palmetto bugs.

American cockroaches are found around the world, and they generally live outdoors in damp, moist areas with temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Male American cockroaches can live up to 362 days and females can live up to 706 days. Females generally produce one egg case per month.

Why Do Cockroaches Come Inside?

American cockroaches live outside, but they can come into your home for a variety of reasons, including:

Heavy rain: Like Oriental cockroaches, American cockroaches are known to wander inside houses after a heavy rain. This is primarily to avoid drowning. Many cockroaches live in sewers and drains, which can become flooded after strong rains. This causes the insects to seek shelter elsewhere, sometimes in your home.

Food: As with any cockroach, American cockroaches will eat virtually anything. Their typical diet includes decaying organic matter, but they will also eat household items like cheese, beer, leather, bakery products, starch in book bindings, potted plants, dirty clothing, cosmetics, soap and pet food. For a cockroach in search of food, your home can be a smorgasbord.

Once cockroaches are in your house, you may see them in warm, moist places with food sources, such as the kitchen, around drains or the bathroom.

Signs of Cockroaches in Your Home

Cockroaches are nocturnal with flat bodies, which helps them hide in small spaces. This means it may be difficult to find them in your home. Unfortunately, though, you may see them as they run across your kitchen floor or counter. Other signs of cockroaches in your home include:

Cockroach droppings – The size, shape and amount of droppings will vary with the species and number of cockroaches in your house. Generally, American cockroach droppings are about 1/25ths of an inch. They also leave “smears” on porous surfaces, such as wood, in areas where they spend a lot of time. Check for droppings behind kitchen appliances and in food storage areas like cabinets.

Egg cases – Cockroach egg cases are oblong and brown, and they’re often glued to surfaces that humans have trouble reaching. Search for them behind furniture, in pantries, in between cracks in the walls, in books or in other tightly sealed spaces. Roach egg cases contain 8-12 developing cockroaches. A mature female can produce a new egg case each month for almost a year, as mentioned above.

Odor – Cockroaches produce a musty odor that can become stronger as the infestation grows.

Tips for Control

Help prevent American cockroaches and other species of these common home invaders by:

  • Keeping your home, especially your kitchen, clean and promptly disposing of garbage
  • Eliminating points of entry and debris, including wood piles, from your property
  • Sealing food and avoiding leaving food or crumbs lying around your house
  • Quickly repairing plumbing leaks
  • Using weather stripping around doors

Of course, fully controlling cockroaches usually requires professional help, especially if the infestation is firmly established. Cockroaches are year-round pests, and Terminix® can help control the population in your home with an initial visit and ongoing treatments. Get your free pest estimate today.

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