American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana)

Pricing: Dead (spread, as pictured): $25 and up, depending on size, sex, and quality needed. Live: $100 per dozen.
Geographic Range: Almost Worldwide
View: Top View  Size: Length: 4-6 cm

Availability Notes: Available both live and dead. Residents of TN require a USDA permit for live specimens.

Image Copyright 2003
Barbara Strnadova

The American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, was introduced to the U.S.A. from Africa as early as 1625 (it's native home was probably somewhere in coastal west Africa). With the aid of infested ships, the American cockroach then spread itself over much of the world, colonizing places as remote as Greenland. This intrepid insect has actually reached Antarctica as a stowaway but was not capable of surviving in the harsh cold. Measuring on average 4-6 cm in length, P. americana is often found residing indoors as well as outdoors, especially in the warmer parts of it's range. In the U.S.A., Florida is the state teeming with the most of these large roaches. In Florida, they are referred to as "palmetto bugs"; perhaps in an effort to gloss over the fact that these "bugs" are really cockroaches. In New York City, these same insects have been given the name "water bug". These "water bugs" can be found in all five boroughs and are to be seen in large numbers during the extreme heat of mid-summer. In temperate areas of the world, P. americana is somewhat confined to living in basements, sewers, steam tunnels, and drainage systems since they can only survive outdoors during the warm, summer months. In the warmer regions of Earth, P. americana is often the cockroach most commonly found residing in people's homes. In all parts of its range it can be found in buildings where food is prepared and stored, such as restaurants, grocery stores and bakeries. They will eat just about anything. The American cockroach is second only to the German cockroach in terms of its abundance within the habitations of humans. The American cockroach is rarely found in private homes unless the home is situated in an area where the roaches can be found in abundance outside. Unchecked populations with a steady food supply can quickly turn into infestations containing many thousands of individuals. Like most cockroaches, eggs are laid in an egg case called an ootheca. Each ootheca contains about 14 eggs and is usually hidden in a crevice (a single female can produce about 12-24 egg cases over the course of several months). Eggs develop within the ootheca for 1-2 months. The nymphs will pass through 13 instars over a period of 6-12 months before they reach maturity. Adults often live for more than a year, so their entire life can span more than two years. Males can be distinguished from females by their cerci. Males have cerci with 18 to 19 segments while the females have 13 to 14 segment cerci. The males also have a pair of styli between the cerci while the females do not.