American Cockroach


Actual Size: 2.1”

Characteristics: Brown to reddish brown; winged

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Habitat: Live mostly outside but can be found in sewers and drains across the Northern United States. In the Southern United States, they are found in shady garden areas and yards.


  • Prefer damp, warm, dark locations
  • May carry disease-causing bacteria and germs
  • Both males and females are capable of flight

American Cockroaches in Wisconsin

The American cockroach is known by many names, including water bug or palmetto bug. They are flattened and oval with fully developed wings that differ in length according to sex. Despite possessing wings, American cockroaches are poor to moderate fliers and prefer to run instead. They feed on things like baked goods, beer, cosmetics, flakes of dead skin, glue, hair, paper, pet food, soap, and wallpaper paste. They tend to prefer fermenting food and other decaying organic matter. Outdoors, they will eat leaves, tiny wood particles, fungi, small insects, and algae.

American Cockroach Habitat or Environment

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. Inside, they prefer dark, humid and undisturbed areas and can be found in subfloors, basements, kitchens, roof voids and bathrooms of homes. They forage under appliances, in drains, in kitchen cabinets, and on the floor.

American Cockroach Behaviors & Threats

American cockroaches can bite, but it is very rare. These cockroaches are considered pests of public health importance 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 food 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.

If you have American cockroaches in your property in Wisconsin, always contact your local cockroach exterminator for assistance.