How to Get Rid of American Cockroaches | Effective Methods and Prevention Tips

Written by George Climer

American cockroaches are one of the major pests in the United States and all over the world. These annoying pests can enter your house or apartment by following the scent of food or water. The American cockroaches prefer to live in warm and moist areas. Due to their rapid growth and impressive survival abilities, they can cause havoc. It can be really difficult to eliminate the larger infestation of this pesky pest.

To avoid the potential threat and to control infestation, you should take serious preventive measures beforehand. Several chemical and natural pest control methods can help to eradicate American cockroaches. In this article, we have given a comprehensive guide on how to get rid of American cockroaches and prevention tips for controlling their re-establishment.

How to get rid of American cockroaches? To eradicate American cockroaches, investigate their potential nesting sites, and apply insecticide. Several insecticidal sprays, dust, granules, baits, and traps can control or eradicate American cockroaches. You can also use natural pest control methods to get rid of them.

In the following sections, we have provided all the necessary information regarding American cockroaches, a detailed guide to their behavior, and biology that will help to identify them. Further, we have shared all the chemical and natural pest control methods for effectively controlling American cockroach infestation. Let’s begin!

American Cockroaches | Information

American cockroaches (Periplaneta americana) build shelters in both indoor and outdoor areas near damp and warm places. They were introduced in the US from Africa in the early 17th century. The American cockroaches are cosmopolitan in nature and are distributed all over the world.

American cockroaches are also known as “water bugs,” “flying water bugs,” or “palmetto bugs.” They were named water bugs due to their fondness for moist and damp places. Some people call them palmetto bugs because they make shelters on palmetto trees.

The American cockroaches have strong survival abilities and can thrive well in harsh conditions.

What Does an American Cockroach Look Like?

What Does an American Cockroach Look Like

Adult American cockroaches have a flat, oval-shaped body, are reddish-brown in color, and measure between 1 3/8 to 2 1/8 inches (35 – 54 mm) long. They have pale or yellow bands around the tip of the pronotum. Both males and females have wings, but the wings of males are longer (around 4 to 8 mm longer from the tip of the abdomen). American cockroaches have a pair of antennae and 3 pairs of legs.

What Do Baby American Cockroaches Look Like?

Female American cockroaches deposit eggs in oothecae (or in capsule-shaped protective casings). The American cockroaches lay on average 16 eggs per ootheca.

Nymph is developed after the egg hatches, at first it has a whitish appearance and turns to grayish-brown after hatching, after that it becomes reddish-brown through subsequent molting stages. Wings are absent in baby cockroaches (nymphs). However, wing pads start to appear in the third or fourth instar. In American cockroaches, an egg develops into an adult in about 600 days.

Related: Do Cockroaches Lay Eggs? | Information & Facts

Where Do American Cockroaches Live?

American cockroaches live near warm and damp surroundings. They build shelters in narrow and dark corners to avoid potential threats. This pesky pest lives both indoors and outdoors. They invade your house for shelter in case of harsh weather (such as heavy rain or cold) or after sensing food and water trails.

American cockroaches are one of the most commonly found indoor pests second to German cockroaches. Indoors, they build shelters in basements, kitchens, bathrooms, near water pipelines, behind cupboards, inside pantries, etc. 

Where Do American Cockroaches Live

Outdoors, American cockroaches live near water tunnels, inside drains, sewers, or stream tunnels, near rotting or hollow woodpiles, debris or mulches, garbage, or wherever they find a favorable environment.

Related: Where Do Cockroaches Live? | Information & Facts

Do American Cockroaches Bite?

American cockroaches rarely bite, they will only start to bite humans when the infestation has gotten out of hand or if the food sources are extremely scarce These nocturnal insects are attracted to your body while you are sleeping by sensing the food residues on it. There are a few reports of cockroaches biting human toes, fingertips, eyelashes, etc. 

Their bite looks like a bright red mark or bump. Also, a type of rash can appear in case of an allergic reaction to the bite. Seek medical advice if the condition prolongs because cockroaches carry disease-causing pathogens on their body which can lead to severe health complications.

Can American Cockroaches Fly?

American cockroaches are moderate flyers, they tend to glide or fly at short distances to protect themself from predators or other threats. They conserve energy by gliding when the temperature is high (above 85°F). The fastest speed of an American cockroach that has been recorded is about 3.4 miles per hour.

Related: Can Cockroaches Fly? | Information and Facts

Can American Cockroaches Infest Your Home?

American cockroaches live outdoors but they can also enter your home in search of food or shelter. They are omnivores and can eat almost anything such as sweets, starchy products, crumbs, fruit and vegetable leftovers, rotting garbage, meat, hair, paper, cardboard, peanut, decaying organic matter, debris, dead insects, etc.

Can American Cockroaches Infest Your Home

Inside of your home, they commonly build nests in wall cracks, under the sink, behind the toilet seat, beneath the bathtub, inside water pipelines, behind kitchen cabinets or cupboards, under the refrigerator, furniture, or wherever conditions are favorable to thrive.

How to Find American Cockroach Nest?

To find American cockroach shelters, you first have to inspect their droppings or trails. Cockroaches leave their dead skin, eggs, droppings, or black spots on the way back to their nest to communicate and to attract other cockroaches inside your house. 

Discovering egg cases, skin shedding, or droppings under your furniture or near potential nesting sites indicates the presence of cockroaches in that place. Moreover, a larger number of American cockroaches emit an acidic or musty smell wherever they go and the scent becomes stronger near their shelters. This will allow you to find their nests by following the strength of the smell.

How to Kill American Cockroach? | Instructions

American cockroaches enter your house through windows, space under doors, cracks, air ducts, pipes, and other entry points. According to a study conducted on American cockroaches, these filthy insects can carry disease-causing pathogens on their body (such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa) that can lead to food poisoning, diarrhea, dysentery, and other stomach disorders.

Contact with cockroach waste can also cause allergic reactions, rashes, or nasal infections. American cockroaches are active during the night, therefore, they are hard to notice at earlier stages of infestation. For all of these reasons, it is extremely important to get rid of them as soon as you notice them.

In the following section, we have given a step-by-step guide on how to control and eradicate American cockroaches effectively.

Step 1: Inspection and Identification

To eliminate a cockroach infestation from your house or outdoor infested areas, you should first have a clear idea about the type of cockroach and the level of infestation. Accurate identification will help to select the best pest control method.

How to Kill American Cockroach

Inspect the area and potential nesting sites of cockroaches such as bathrooms, kitchens, pantries, cracks, cabinets, near logs, debris, garbage, under stones, etc. Follow droppings or their musty smell to locate their nests. Smaller American cockroach droppings should look like black pepper with ridges and furrows on their surface. 

After identification and inspection of the type of pest and infested site, select the best treatment method from the next section that best suits your situation.

Step 2: Application of Insecticides

Treatment with chemicals or insecticides is the most common control method for cockroaches. However, it is advised to select the best insecticide by assessing the infested area.

The eradication of American cockroaches in isolated houses is easier when compared to their extermination in residential buildings. The size of their population determines the method and type of insecticide you are going to choose.

Further, we have shared a list of methods that you can use to eradicate American cockroaches.

Insecticide Spray

Insecticide sprays are commonly used to control American cockroaches. Remember to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as a mask, gloves, protective glasses, and long boots to avoid direct contact with chemicals. 

To get rid of cockroaches sanitize your home and eliminate all factors that can attract them. Seal all the cracks and remove excess water and food sources before applying any products.

Insecticide sprays are generally for outdoor use. Residual insecticides are preferred in comparison to non-residual insecticides as they produce better results when it comes to cockroaches.

The effect of most of the residual insecticide persists for about three months. Follow the guidelines and instructions given on the spray bottle and customize the dosage of the insecticide solution according to your requirements. Reapply insecticide spray after a few weeks if needed.

Some of the recommended insecticide sprays are:

1
Hot Shot Ant, Roach & Spider Killer, Kills Insects Indoors and Outdoors, Kills Roaches and Listed Ants on Contact, Insecticide Spray, 17.5 Ounce (Crisp Linen)
  • FAST KNOCKDOWN: Kills listed insects on contact* and keeps...
  • KILLS INSECTS INDOORS: Hot Shot Ant, Roach & Spider Killer kills...
  • KILLS INSECTS OUTDOORS: This product kills ants, cockroaches,...
  • CRISP LINEN SCENT: Use Hot Shot Ant, Roach & Spider Killer to...
  • NO OILY RESIDUE: Spray surface until damp; this product leaves no...
Sale 2
Raid Ant & Roach Aerosol Bug Spray, Water-Based Formula Insecticide With No Greasy Residue, Kills On Contact, 17.5 oz
  • Raid Ant & Roach Aerosol Bug Spray kills a wide variety of...
  • Water-based formula bug killer spay leaves no greasy residue
  • Fragrance Free / no lasting odor Ant & Roach insect spray
  • Apply on indoor surfaces every 4 weeks as necessary to maintain...
  • Raid Defense System protecting families from bugs for more than...
3
Bengal Gold Roach Spray, Odorless Stain-Free Dry Aerosol Killer Spray with Insect Growth Regulator, 2-Count, 11 Oz. Aerosol Cans
  • PACK OF TWO 11 OZ. INSECT KILLER SPRAYS: Profeciently flushes,...
  • PREVENTS REINFESTATION: Contains an insect growth regulator that...
  • REACHES HIDING BUGS: Dry, powerful spray penetrates deep into...
  • OPTIMAL PERFORMANCE: Reaches to fill voids behind walls when...
  • NO ODOR, MESS-FREE, AND NON-STAINING: Spray it in cracks and...

Insecticide Dusts or Powders

Dust and insecticide powders are amazing against cockroaches. Apply dust on cracks, behind cabinets or baseboards, under furniture, inside wall voids, entry points, or near their shelters. 

Also, a long tube can be attached to the duster to treat inaccessible areas. It will drive the American cockroaches out of their nests and they will move to the untreated sites. You can also combine dust treatment with insecticide spray.

Some of the best commercially available dust insecticides for American cockroaches are:

1
D-Fense Dust 1 lbs - Water Resistant, 8 Month Control, Targets: Ants, roaches, Bed Bugs, Scorpions, Spiders and More
  • Ready to use - Kills crawling insects for up to eight months if...
  • Waterproof dust, does not clump
  • Use Sites: indoors, outdoors, animal quarters/ kennels, building,...
  • Effective Against: ants, cockroaches, fleas, silverfish, ticks,...
  • Includes 1 lb of D-Fense Dust & USA Supply Gloves
Sale 2
HARRIS Boric Acid Roach and Silverfish Killer Powder w/Lure for Insects (16oz)
  • 1.Long Lasting - Continues to kill roaches, palmetto bugs, water...
  • 2.Fast Acting - Insects coming into contact with the powder will...
  • 3.Easy Application - The puffer with extended straw makes...
  • 4.Contains Irresistible Lure - Harris food grade lure attracts...
  • 5.EPA Registered - Made in the USA and Registered with the...
Sale 3
Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer for Cracks & Crevices - Spray Foam Kills Ants, Cockroaches, Fleas, Centipedes, Crickets, Boxelder Bugs & Other Listed Common Insects, Long-Lasting, 16 oz.
  • Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer for Cracks & Crevices is a spray...
  • KILLS HOME-INVADING PESTS: Kills those pesky ants, cockroaches,...
  • LONG-LASTING: It keeps on killing German and American cockroaches...
  • INDOOR & OUTDOOR USE: The foam can be used inside your home or...
  • EASY-TO-USE FOAM SPRAY: The foam spreads around objects and...

Baits and Traps

Different types of baits are available commercially (liquid, solid, gel) that can effectively eradicate cockroach infestation. A bait contains an attractive type of food or pheromone that is able to attract cockroaches and a poisonous chemical. The consumption of the bait will result in the cockroach’s death.

Liquid or gel baits can help to treat indoor cockroach infestation. Simply place the baits near their shelters. You can also reapply the baits after a few weeks to get the best outcomes. Some of the recommended cockroach baits are:

Sale 1
Combat Roach Killing Bait, Roach Bait Station For Large Roaches, Kills The Nest, Child-Resistant, 8 Count,Insects
  • Get rid of cockroach problems at the source with this specially...
  • Easy-to-use, no-mess baits do not require activation.
  • Simply place them wherever you see or have seen roaches and relax...
  • Best used in areas like under sinks, behind toilets, and behind...
  • This package contains 8 large roach killing bait stations.
Sale 2
Advion Cockroach Gel Bait, 4 Tubes x 30-Grams, 1 Plunger and 2 Tips, German Roach Insect Pest Control, Indoor and Outdoor Use, Roach Killer Gel for American, German and Other Major Cockroach Species
  • COCKROACH CONTROL: Advion Cockroach gel bait from Syngenta is a...
  • VERSATILE USAGE: Advion Cockroach Gel Bait is suitable for indoor...
  • HIGHLY ATTRACTIVE FORMULATION: Advion Cockroach has a...
  • EFFORTLESS APPLICATION: With a plunger and user-friendly tips...
  • CONVENIENT PACKAGE: This package includes four 30-gram syringes...

Insect Growth Regulators

Insect growth regulators are toxic to cockroach eggs, larvae, and adults. They interfere with their process of development. IGR is a birth control insecticide that stops cockroaches from reproducing when they reach adulthood. It is also able to prevent the re-infestation of American cockroaches. 

These insecticides are less toxic to other insects and are best for targeted control of American cockroaches. Apply the right dose and follow the guidelines shared on the insecticide bottle for the best results. You can also combine IGR with insecticide spray.

The recommended cockroach growth regulators are:

Sale 1
Zoecon Gentrol Point Source IGR ZOE1007
  • Roaches and stored product pests
  • For areas where spraying isn't acceptable
  • Use in: Food Handling Establishments, Nursing Homes, Hospitals,
  • 1 Disc treats up to 75 sq. ft. Repeat application every 3 months
  • Please note the date on the disks is the batch number not an...
Sale 3
gentrol Aerosol Insect Growth Regulator ZOE1005
  • Hydroprene 0.36%.
  • Including but not limited to: Apartment buildings, bakeries,...
  • Shake well before use. As a general surface spray or spot...

Step 3: Prevention of Re-Infestation

To prevent the re-establishment of American cockroaches you have to take care of cleanliness and sanitize your house. Remove all the garbage, debris, and leftovers from your garden. Dispose of trash cans regularly as they can attract cockroaches to your house.

Seal all the cracks, crevices, wall voids, potential nesting sites, and entryways (using caulk or copper mesh) to prevent their entry. Repair water pipelines, the drainage systems and remove excess water from your kitchen and bathrooms.

Store most of your food in the refrigerator and pantries. Do not leave pet food or pet waste overnight as they can lure cockroaches and other pests into your house.

How to Get Rid of American Cockroach Infestation | Details

The surroundings, type of cockroach, climate and other factor determines, which type of insecticide will work best in the particular infested area.  

Professionals mostly use integrated pest management (IPM) strategy to efficiently control American cockroaches and to avoid their re-establishment. It mostly includes the assessment of the infested area, treatment, application of preventive measures, etc.

How to Get Rid of American Cockroaches Outside?

For outdoor American cockroach control, you have to get rid of all the items that are attracting cockroaches to your garden or yard. Rotting wood piles, wood shaving, poor drainage system, or excess moisture are all attractive to cockroaches. Keep the area clean and take care of your garden to minimize the possibility of infestation.

How to Get Rid of American Cockroaches Outside

Granular baits or liquid solutions are commonly used to get rid of American cockroaches outside of residential areas. Insecticides are applied around the boundary of the house to prevent cockroaches from entering. Any of the above methods from the second step will work.

How to Get Rid of American Cockroach in Sewer?

American cockroaches are commonly found in sewers and drains, they crawl out of them when drainage pipes are blocked due to heavy rain or at night when the pipes are dry. This can be a frustrating and horrifying experience. 

To get rid of them you can use sticky traps, gel baits, or insecticide solutions. Apply the gel bait or sticky traps at the entry points of the sewer to kill them. You can also treat the infested drains with similar products.

How to Kill American Cockroaches Naturally?

Other than conventional ways, natural DIY home remedies can also help with eliminating American cockroaches infestation. Synthetic chemicals contain toxic chemicals which can be hazardous for your pets and children.

The application of natural insecticides is an inexpensive and eco-friendly alternative. In the following section, we are going to go over some natural methods that showed good results when dealing with American cockroaches.

Diatomaceous Earth Powder

Sale 1
Harris Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade, 4lb with Powder Duster Included in The Bag
  • Natural Product - Composed of 4lbs of 100% ground freshwater...
  • OMRI Listed - Listed with the Organic Minerals Research...
  • Powder Duster Included - Powder duster in the bag for easy and...
  • Supports a Great Cause - Harris donates 10% of profits to support...
  • Made in the USA – Mined in Nevada and packaged in Georgia
2
Safer Home SH51703 OMRI Listed Diatomaceous Earth - Ant, Roach, Bedbug, Flea, Silverfish, Earwig, & Crawling Insect Killer
  • Say Goodbye to Bugs – Kills a variety crawling insects...
  • Attracts and Kills – Made from diatomaceous earth and selected...
  • Mechanical Killer – Unlike many traditional chemical...
  • Use Where Insects Hide – DE can be used indoors or outdoors....
  • Peace of Mind – This powder is OMRI Listed and compliant for...

Diatomaceous earth powder has natural insecticidal properties. This powder is extracted from diatoms and does not contain harmful chemicals. The fine powder can be directly applied directly on American cockroaches or on their common routes. Due to the hygroscopic nature, it will damage their exoskeleton which results in their death.

Natural Baits

Mix an equal quantity of sugar, flour, and boric acid to form a dough. Make small balls of this dough and put them near infested areas. Sugar and flour will attract American cockroaches to the baits and boric acid will kill them.

You can also mix equal amounts of powdered sugar and baking soda. Sugar will draw cockroaches out of their nests and soda will eliminate them.

Lastly, the peanut butter and boric acid powder mixture can also be used as a deadly American cockroach bait. You can put the bait in a disposable container or on tape before application.

Insecticide Spray 

To prepare a natural insecticide spray that can be used to kill American cockroaches, mix a small quantity of neem oil in water, and thoroughly shake the mixture. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and treat the infested areas.

Peppermint oil spray also contains insecticidal properties. To prepare peppermint spray, mix vinegar and water (1:2) in a spray bottle then add 10 drops of peppermint oil to it. Mix them together and treat the infested areas.

How to Repel American Cockroaches?

There is a growing trend of using cockroach repellents on shipping containers, and cardboard boxes containing food or drinks to prevent the likelihood of cockroach infestation. For example, packages are treated with dilutions of DEET or DMP (dimethyl phthalate) to repel American cockroaches.

Cockroach repellents can also be applied on kitchen cabinets, around vending machines, in pantries, etc. Several organic and synthetic American cockroach repellents are available commercially, some of them are the following:

Sale 1
Mighty Mint 16oz Cockroach Repellent Natural Peppermint Oil Spray
  • Safe
  • Extra Concentrated for Long-Lasting Protection
  • Natural Ingredients Proven Effective in the Real World
  • Large 16oz Bottle
  • Powerful Essential Oil
2
36 Pack Roach Repellent Peppermint Oil to Keep Cockroach Away from House, Powerful Cockroach Repellent, Roach Spider Ant Mouse Repellent for Home Kitchen Office Hotel Garage Car, Safe for Humans
  • Powerful Roach Repellent: Our roach repellent are made of...
  • Get Rid of Disgusting Roach in A Peaceful Way: Compared to roach...
  • Easy to Use: Simply take the natural roaches repellents out of...
  • Individually Package and Protect for A Long Time: Every roach...
  • Suitable for Indoor and Outdoor Use: Designed to repel various of...
3
SEEKBIT Roach Repellent Large, Natural Cockroach Repellent Pouches, Repels Ant, Spider, Roach Insect Rodent Repellent, Keep Roach Away from Closet
  • [Natural Roach Repellent] You can receive a bulk quantity of 8...
  • [Large Roach Repellent Pouches] The SEEKBIT roach away repellent...
  • [Clean and Convenient Defense] Our granules infused with...
  • [Long-Lasting Protection] With a 4-week deterrence period, our...
  • [Easy to Use Anywhere] The Scent-Away repellent pouches can be...

How to Keep American Cockroaches Out of Kitchen Trash Cans?

American cockroaches are attracted to your trash can due to the rotting smell of food leftovers or moisture. To keep the cockroaches away from your trash can, do not leave trash in the cans overnight. 

Cover trash bins to avoid the smell of garbage from spreading. Eliminate moisture near trash cans and keep them clean. You can also apply insecticide spray around trash bins and near your house’s entry points to prevent the American cockroach invasion.

List of Sources

Jacobs, S. (2017). American Cockroaches. PennState Extension. College of Agricultural Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University

Barbara, K. A. (2014). American Cockroach. Pest Control Magazine. University of Florida

Insecticides for Indoor Use. Horticulture and Home Pest News. Iowa State University

Davis, R. S. (2010). Cockroaches. UtahState University Extension

Ogg, C. L. (2012).IPM for Cockroaches: Integrated Pest Management for Sensitive Environment. University of Nebraska Lincoln