Status: Project completed. We thank our intrepid specimen collectors!
NCP in the News
- Do American cockroaches differ genetically between cities?
- Do US genetic types match those in other parts of the world?
- Are there genetic types that represent undiscovered look-alike species?
What you need
- American cockroach (dead)
- Specimen label with collection location, date
- Mailing materials (click here for form with instructions)
What you get
- Thrill of scientific discovery with DNA
- Cool topic to talk about with friends
- DNA sequences you can analyze to study evolution
- Number of P. americana DNA barcodes in public databases: 23 (2 from US)
- High school students found novel P. americana DNA barcode types in NYC (DNAHouse)
- P. americana on stage and screen: Featured in Broadway and Hollywood classic The Man Who Came to Dinner by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman
- PHE DNA barcode home page
- Consortium for the Barcode of Life (CBOL)
- Barcode of Life Datasystems (BOLD)
- PHE high school student projects Sushigate, DNAHouse, TeaBOL, ExoticBOL
- P. americana in: Wikipedia - Encyclopedia of Life – BugGuideNet – Univ Florida Featured Creatures - World Cockroach Species Database
What is the American cockroach?
The American cockroach (Periplaneta americana), sometimes called palmetto bug or waterbug, is the commonest large roach in the U.S. (adults 1 ¼ - 1 ½ inches).
Periplaneta americana commonly inhabits warm, moist environments in man-made structures including basements of large buildings, steam tunnels, and sewers. It is a year-round indoor resident as far north as Canada.
The smaller cockroaches seen in homes and apartments are usually the German cockroach (Blattella germanica) (adults 1/2 - 5/8 inch).
In warm weather American cockroaches may be seen roaming urban sidewalks at night particularly near large buildings, street drains, and manhole covers.
What are other large (body size ≥1 inch) cockroach species in the U.S.?
|Name||Distinguishing features vs. P. americana|
|Smokybrown cockroach (P. fuliginosa)||Uniformly dark brown color|
|Australian cockroachi (P. australasia)||Bright yellow along sides of head and body|
|Brown cockroach (P. brunnea)||Most similar to P. americana|
|Oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis)||Uniformly dark color, short wings don’t cover abdomen|
The other Periplaneta species are found mostly in southeastern states; the Oriental cockroach is widely distributed.
If you think your specimen is an American cockroach, mail it in!
How can you find a specimen?
Search around the basement of your school or apartment building, or ask for help from a building manager or a local exterminator. In warm weather keep your eyes open at night near large buildings, street drains, or manhole covers.