American Cockroach

Actual Size: 2.1”

Characteristics: Brown to reddish brown; winged

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Like to live in sewers and drains outdoors. Often seen in shady garden areas and yards.


  • One of the larger cockroach species.
  • Males and females are capable of flight but rarely fly.
  • Attracted to fermented foods and alcohol.

American Cockroaches in Vermont

American roaches are known by many names, including “water bugs” and “palmetto bugs”. When people think of a cockroach, the American cockroach is often the one they have in mind. This is because of their classic look: long antennae, bigger red bodies, and a high-speed crawl. Despite its name, the American cockroach is not native to North America and was probably introduced via ships from Africa. It is currently found throughout the United States and is second only to the German cockroach in abundance. Adults can live up to one year and an adult female will produce an average of 150 young in her lifetime. These roaches are attracted to many foods and things. It consumes decaying organic matter but is a scavenger and will eat almost anything. It prefers sweets but has also been observed eating paper, pet food, soap, hair, fruit, book bindings, cardboard boxes, and dead insects.

American Cockroach Habitat

When they are outside, American roaches are bats, under logs, and other sheltered damp areas. In urban settings, it is a common inhabitant of sewers, storm drainage systems, prisons, factories, hospitals, and hotels. The American cockroach is omnivorous and an opportunistic feeder.  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 Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

American roaches are capable of biting. Thankfully, it is 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. For this reason, it’s important to always address a possible American roach problem quickly.

If you have spotted American roaches in your Vermont property, contact a professional cockroach control company.