The largest of Colorado’s roaches at roughly two inches in length, the American cockroach is most common in commercial buildings where steam tunnels, boiler and furnace rooms are present. They can however migrate to nearby structures during warm weather or be transported on food containers from one location to another. American cockroaches are mahogany (reddish-brown) in color with faded yellow edges. Both males and females are fully winged and capable of flight. Males’ wings extend just beyond their abdomen whereas females’ wings are approximately the same length as their body. Females lay egg capsules and “glue” them to a hidden surface with secretions from their mouth. Approximately 200-1400 young are produced by each female in her life time.
Unlike Oriental roaches that seek out cool areas, American roaches tend towards warm, moist areas. They feed on a variety of foods, particularly decaying organic matter. They have been known to infest landfills due to the high quantity of food debris. They will consume materials such as cheese, starch in book bindings, paper, glue, dead animals, leather, beer and hair. Control methods will need to incorporate removal of potential food sources, debris and resolving any moisture related issues. Roaches in general are of great concern regarding the health of those exposed to infestations. Due to the filth in which they live, roaches carry and spread bacteria, viruses and protozoa throughout areas of the infestation including onto food products, utensils, counters and sinks. Resulting diseases include food poisoning, dysentery and other forms of gastroenteritis. Allergens due to cast skins and roach feces also commonly cause health related problems including nasal congestion, rashes and asthma.