American Cockroach


Actual Size: 2.1”

Characteristics: Brown to reddish brown; winged

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Primarily live outdoors but can be found in sewers and drains. Inside, they will inhabit bathrooms, kitchens, and bathrooms.


  • American cockroaches may carry disease-causing bacteria
  • They migrate readily through sewer systems from building to building
  • Both sexes are capable of flight but are poor fliers

American Cockroaches in Eastern Tennessee

American cockroaches are the cockroaches most people envision in their minds with their long antennae, large reddish-colored bodies, and quick speed. They are often called palmetto bugs or water bugs. They are by-far the largest common roach in the nation at nearly 2 or more inches long. Despite its name, most people believe this particular roach was introduced via ships from Africa. Nowadays, it is found all throughout the United States. Here in Tennessee, people often encounter them in their basements, kitchens, bathrooms, and more. Adults can live up to one year and an adult female will produce an average of 150 young in her lifetime.

The American cockroach is omnivorous and an opportunistic feeder. 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, clothes, and dead insects.

American Cockroach Habitat

In general, American roaches prefer to live outdoors. Out in nature, the American cockroach is found in bat caves and hollow trees. In urban settings, it is a common inhabitant of sewers, storm drainage systems, prisons, factories, hospitals, and hotels. American cockroaches prefer warm, damp environments and can often be found outdoors around drains, garbage bins, trees and wood piles. When these roaches venture inside homes in search of food, they often live in damp areas such as basements, garages, kitchens and bathrooms. They prefer to stay hidden and will often scuttle away if spotted or when a light is turned on.

American Cockroach Behaviors & Dangers

Like most roaches, the American cockroach can bite. However, they very rarely 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 diseases, depositing germs or bacteria in areas they inhabit and causing asthma attacks in some people sensitive to cockroach allergens. Because of the possible contamination and germs they can bring, it’s important to contact a local cockroach control expert for help getting rid of them in your property.