Five Things You Probably Didn't Know About American Cockroaches

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Are you familiar with the reddish-brown insect with the yellowish figure 8 pattern on its back that is known throughout the United States as the American cockroach? Of course you are. There are few people who wouldn't be able to pick out an American cockroach in a lineup. It is also likely that you know that these insects are dirty pests that spread bacteria and diseases when they get into a home or business. But there are five things we're pretty sure you don't know about these filthy pests. Let's see if we're right.

an american cockroach on a garage shelf in edison, nj

The American cockroach is not from America

You would think that an insect that has the distinction of bearing the name of the country it is found in would actually be native to that country but that is not the case with the American cockroach. The American cockroach isn't a native American. This insect came to America from Africa by way of cargo ships, and it is believed that it came from Asia before that.

The American cockroach can not climb all types of surfaces

If you've seen one of these cockroaches run up a wall at full speed and zip across a ceiling without skipping a beat, you might be tempted to think there is no surface they cannot scale. But cockroaches don't use suction cups to climb; they use tiny thorn-like appendages. If there is nothing to grip, those cockroaches are out of luck. That is why some people design traps that are rough on the outside and super smooth on the inside. Cockroaches go in but can't climb back out.

The American cockroach can live up to a week without it's head

Cockroaches don't breath from their head. They have holes in their bodies that draw in oxygen. If you chop the head off of an American cockroach, it isn't going to suffocate.

Okay. So, why does it die in a week? If you're thinking that it dies of hunger, you're closer. But a cockroach can live for over a month without food. It actually dies of thirst.

The American cockroach can hold it's breath for 30 minutes

There is a good reason this cockroach is often called a water bug. Not only do American cockroaches love wet locations, they are able to survive being submerged under water for more than half an hour! Good luck trying to drown one in your toilet!

The American cockroach can not survive a nuclear explosion

It was once said that this cockroach could survive a global thermonuclear war, and someone mistakenly extrapolated that these insects would survive a direct impact from a nuclear explosion. That is simply not true, on a couple levels. First of all, American cockroaches are not indestructible. That should go without saying. They would blow up just like everything else. And, although they are incredibly tolerant of nuclear radiation, they would not be able to survive the level of radiation that would be present near the impact of a thermonuclear warhead.

What you need to know most about cockroaches

Now that we have the fun facts behind us, here are a few not-so-fun facts you should know about the American cockroach. These insects are linked to the spread of more than 33 kinds of bacteria and at least six kinds of parasitic worms. Studies have shown a correlative rise in Asthma symptoms where cockroaches are present. And these insects are quick to spread harmful bacteria from dirty locations to food-prep surfaces, dishes, silverware, stored food, and more. They are as comfortable in a sewer drain or dumpster as they are in your pantry or kitchen cabinets. And cockroaches have little or no problem getting to food. Their ability to climb is only rivaled by their ability to compact their bodies and squeeze through gaps that are half their size.

The American cockroach might be an interesting bug, but it brings no benefits when it infests a home or business. If you see these bugs, it is important to take immediate action.

If you're in our New Jersey service area, and you need assistance exterminating cockroaches, reach out to Arrow Pest Control. Our experienced and educated pest professionals know what products and methods work to seal these versatile and filthy pests out. Schedule a free estimate today.


Jeffrey K.


‟I have a service plan with Arrow and use them quite often. Never disappointed, always friendly and knowledgeable and come right out and address the matter. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them at all.”
Jeffrey K.
Marlboro, NJ
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