American cockroaches are 1-3/8 to 2-1/8 inches long when mature, red-brown, and characterized by fully developed wings that completely cover the abdomen. The pronotum (i.e., shield like area behind the head) has a dirty-yellow band around its edge.
The nymphs are ¼- inch long when they emerge from the egg capsule and initially are gray-brown. As they develop, they become more red-brown, and the yellow band becomes more prominent on the pronotum. The purse shaped egg capsule (i.e., ootheca) is dark red-brown in color, 3/8-inch long, and typically has eight eggs per side.
During her lifetime, the female American cockroach produces from nine to ten egg capsules each of which contains from 14 to 16 eggs. The capsules are dropped or, using secretions from her mouth, glued in protected locations such as cracks and crevices near food sources. The nymphs molt form 10 to 13 times before becoming adults. This requires about 600 days. Adult females live an average of 440 days and males about 200 days. Large populations of American cockroaches accumulate in secluded locations because they live for such a long time.
American cockroaches are not common pests in most homes. They can be abundant in sewers and commercial facilities, e.g., groceries, prisons, restaurants, hospitals, and office and apartment buildings. They prefer to inhabit warm, damp locations, e.g., steam tunnels and boiler rooms. They are strong fliers and easily migrate from building to building. In the summer, large numbers accumulate in outdoor locations, e.g., in dumps, alleys, and yards, and in the fall, migrate into surrounding structures. Although they feed on a variety of materials, they prefer fermenting foods.