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All American


vfox
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I know it's not the best thread title because American roaches are not native but, meh.

Anyway! I just wanted to start a thread about our dear friend Periplaneta americana, aka the American cockroach.

I personally have two colonies; one colony of regular morph and one of the white eyed strain. Periplaneta is an amazing genus in my opinion and the one that everyone knows, like it or not, is the good ol' American. They are everywhere, literally every continent, including the antarctic research station. However, until I started keeping roaches I had never seen one upclose and was scared of their pest status. I even remember a myth about if you crush one with your shoe you'll need to clean them thoroughly so you don't bring eggs into the house. There are so many misconceptions about this critter that it almost seems unfair to it.

Each of my colonies are strong, the white eyes breeding less because that's just their thing, but both have plenty of babies. They are easily contained with a Vaseline barrier and I've personally never seen one fly. (although they can) I trust this non-flying tendacy so much that I often walk away with the colony open while I'm getting their food. I've never had an American escape, I've never been diseased by them, I've never been bitten by them, I've never had a single issue with them.

These slow growing speedsters are beautiful throughout their life cycle and always maintain some of the craziest behavior of any of my roaches. Their long legs gives them the ability to hop short distances but they normally maintain contact with the ground to speed away. I'm sure if you've ever lived in a city or sub-tropic region you've seen this behavior first hand. Oddly enough mine do not fear the light, they tend to be active around dusk but relax at night. During the day they are about as active as the night, dusk is where it's at.

The females lay plenty of ootheca but much fewer than Blatta lateralis (Shelfordella tartara for you UK'ers). Their babies can climb well but as said, are easily contained. The adults are handlable but beware they move FAST and can be on your shoulder in half a second. Luckily they arnt too hard to catch in this event and even if they did escape it's likely the average neatly kept suburban/rural home is too dry for them. And with a 12 month maturity time, these are one of the easiest medium sized roaches to control.

So now that I've spouted a mouth full about one of my favorite roaches, let's hear what you guys think of them, good or bad, I'd love to hear some stories and thoughts. Maybe I cam even convince some of you to take on raising these entertaining critters.

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Haha, thanks Alex. I'm surprised more people haven't chimed in on this. They are one of the most feared and reviled cockroaches out there, except for by us obviously, haha. Lets hear the stories guys, good or bad. :)

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I don't keep them in bins, when I want to take a look at them, all I have to do is to lift my dog's food bowl. :P They're so resistent that even bug killer ain't doing anything, the only thing keeping them out of my house (more accurately, out of my sight) is my dog... :D

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I don't keep them in bins, when I want to take a look at them, all I have to do is to lift my dog's food bowl. :P They're so resistent that even bug killer ain't doing anything, the only thing keeping them out of my house (more accurately, out of my sight) is my dog... :D

I wish I had more wild cockroaches around here. We have Parcoblatta virginica and pennsylvanica for sure, but seemingly nothing else nearby. If I go into the city (more like a large town, lol) I can find Germans and Americans, but that's it.

They have always interested me. I have been recently been thinking about collecting a handful of adults and set them up in a nice display tank. I know of a population of them along the river here (fairly untouched by humans, and contains no pesticides).

The only thing I would warn about is their ability to make LOTS of babies. It does take what seems like forever for their ootheca to hatch out, but once they do you will have lots of tiny, fast, slow growing babies on your hands. Keep the population monitored and you'll never have an issue.

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Definitely one of my favorite genera. Although a lot of people cringe with disgust when you bring them up, I don't find them disgusting in any way. I suppose if I had grown up in a house that was visited by them frequently I may think differently (I hate house centipedes with a passion and I find them often; Oddly all of the click beetles, spiders, assassin bugs, and isopods that I find wandering around don't trigger the same reaction) but then again most of it might just be that the negative ideal of what a cockroach is and represents overtakes their curiosity and logical thought processes when they encounter one.

Reputation aside I believe that nobody can call his or herself a roach hobbyist until he or she keeps at least one species of Periplaneta. :P

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I've personally never seen one fly. (although they can) I trust this non-flying tendacy so much that I often walk away with the colony open while I'm getting their food.

I´ve seem them fly many many times !! i am talking about the wild ones within the cities and towns in places where the nights have a hot climate as is along the coast in tropical places. Maybe it could be a factor for this behaviour. Maybe in cities with cold nights it could be a rare sight.

I´ve seem the flying around of the street lights and also entering while they are flying across of open windows and open doors of homes and buildings.

This species really have a very powerful flight and its wings moves at a high speed. They are very able of to do sharp angular turns at fast moving while on the wing. Really it is a very interesting sight !!

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I've heard they are ace pilots but I've never seen it personally. I'm kinda glad I don't need to worry much about it...unlike my Panchlora nivea...little punks always fly off when I open the tank, haha.

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I just noticed vfox's comment on slow growth, and I have to say, this is HIGHLY situational.

For example...

Two years ago I was digging through a bag of cypress mulch in my yard when I came across 3 small roach nymphs. Assuming they were Parcoblatta nymphs I set them up in a small deli cup, and one was eventually eaten. As they grew I realized they were actually Periplaneta americana, and I could not believe how slowly they were growing. About 2 months ago both of them finally matured, and the female began laying egg cases. These then hatched into (so far) 40 or so babies. As of right now they are probably 1/3 of the way grown, being kept and fed under the same conditions as their parents were growing up (the parents were kept hotter on many occasions actually) and there are more babies on the way. I believe that roaches housed in groups with ample "elbow room" will grow much faster and get larger than roaches kept in equally spacious enclosures in smaller numbers, based primarily on what has happened with these little guys.

I would also like to recommend that there's nothing cooler in the world than beginning a massive roach colony with a single adult pair or adult female. :)

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Well as pest species go they are slow growing anyway. Compared to say...brown banded or Germans.

My hisser colony started with 5 adults and now is well over 100 with about 30 sub-adults from being born on Christmas.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi vfox, your Periplaneta roaches do produce often its deffensive pungent smell when their food is renewed or when their bins need to be cleaned or when they are pick up with the hands for some reason ?? or rarely do it ??

I am interesting in to know that because i want to start a small colony of P. americana. Thanks, regards.

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Hi vfox, your Periplaneta roaches do produce often its deffensive pungent smell when their food is renewed or when their bins need to be cleaned or when they are pick up with the hands for some reason ?? or rarely do it ??

I am interesting in to know that because i want to start a small colony of P. americana. Thanks, regards.

Honestly the smell is pretty nasty, kinda skunky, like burnt cigarettes and rubber. But, and that's a big but, the only times I've ever caught wind of the odor is when I physically grab an adult (nymphs don't seem to produce it). If I don't physically grab an adult I never smell it. I've handled them plenty of times though and if they are held but not grabbed they don't make it.

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Honestly the smell is pretty nasty, kinda skunky, like burnt cigarettes and rubber. But, and that's a big but, the only times I've ever caught wind of the odor is when I physically grab an adult (nymphs don't seem to produce it). If I don't physically grab an adult I never smell it. I've handled them plenty of times though and if they are held but not grabbed they don't make it.

Hi vfox, many thanks for the answer.

Did you taked out appart the ooths or the nymphs from their wild caught parents for to avoid the chance of any contagious of parasites or germens from their own parents ??

I don´t remember now from where i has readed this method on to do it so with the purpose of to obtain the most possible "clean" nymphs since the first captive breed generation of nymphs started from the wild caught roaches.

But i don´t now really how so efective can be the application of this method. Thanks, regards.

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Hi vfox, many thanks for the answer.

Did you taked out appart the ooths or the nymphs from their wild caught parents for to avoid the chance of any contagious of parasites or germens from their own parents ??

I don´t remember now from where i has readed this method on to do it so with the purpose of to obtain the most possible "clean" nymphs since the first captive breed generation of nymphs started from the wild caught roaches.

But i don´t now really how so efective can be the application of this method. Thanks, regards.

I actually got mine from a zoo that raises them for an insect exhibition. I didn't need to worry about it.

The best way is to obtain ootheca from a known breeding area of American roaches. They look very different from German roach ootheca so they are pretty easy to distinguish. Are you in the US or abroad? In the US we have them in all major cities and they lay ootheca in cracks in pavement and walls near a food source (dumpster) or in te sewer. I'd suggest looking around dumpsters for egg case or adults.

If you capture adults you should assume they carry diseases and should handle them with gloves and wash your hands well afterwards. Once the captured adults start laying ootheca for you, separate them and wait for them to hatch. Once they do then you can dispose of the possibly contaminated adults.

Those methods take a while to get a breeding population but they are the best way to guarantee clean and diseas free cockroaches.

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I actually got mine from a zoo that raises them for an insect exhibition. I didn't need to worry about it.

The best way is to obtain ootheca from a known breeding area of American roaches. They look very different from German roach ootheca so they are pretty easy to distinguish. Are you in the US or abroad? In the US we have them in all major cities and they lay ootheca in cracks in pavement and walls near a food source (dumpster) or in te sewer. I'd suggest looking around dumpsters for egg case or adults.

If you capture adults you should assume they carry diseases and should handle them with gloves and wash your hands well afterwards. Once the captured adults start laying ootheca for you, separate them and wait for them to hatch. Once they do then you can dispose of the possibly contaminated adults.

Those methods take a while to get a breeding population but they are the best way to guarantee clean and diseas free cockroaches.

Hi vfox, thanks for your reply, very good info / advice in it !

I´m living in mexico city, but here are very similar places as you described for to looking for.

You have very good fortune for to have a nearest zoo that breed healthy Periplaneta for to obtain there healthy roaches.

Another question here, the nymphs of the white eye strain of Periplaneta have their white eyes since they born ?? or the white eyes are developmented while the growing of the nymphs ??

I did readed in a book that the white eye strain of Periplaneta do not exist in the wild, because it was obtained in captivity by the radiation placed on captive Periplaneta roaches. Thanks, regards.

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There are two versions of the story of their origins. The first is that they were found living in a mine shaft and lost the need for vision, hence the loss of eye color and likely usage.

The second version is that they were a result of radiation from some laboratory. Or something similar, I personally buy the mineshaft explanation more.

As for their eyes, they are white from birth. It's neat to see little tiny babies with gleaming white eyes. :)

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My favorite explanation is that they were found in a radioactive mine shaft. ;)

Which actually isn't that far-fetched, I guess.

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There are two versions of the story of their origins. The first is that they were found living in a mine shaft and lost the need for vision, hence the loss of eye color and likely usage.

The second version is that they were a result of radiation from some laboratory. Or something similar, I personally buy the mineshaft explanation more.

As for their eyes, they are white from birth. It's neat to see little tiny babies with gleaming white eyes. :)

Hi vfox, thanks for your reply, first time i hear about this another version, and sounds very problable too B)

Must be very interesting to see all those small nymphs running for everywhere inside of the bin with these little pairs of white eyes !!

My favorite explanation is that they were found in a radioactive mine shaft. ;)

Which actually isn't that far-fetched, I guess.

Hi Ralph, this third version is a good one !!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I thought I would add a little side notation to my Periplaneta americana white eye experience.

I keep my white eyed strain mixed with a handful of adult Periplaneta australasiae. The adults seem to get along together just fine, I've never had a problem with it but I've noticed a slightly annoying trend lately with the australian nymphs vanishing. At first I thought a majority of the 1i nymphs simply escaped because I had found a few in other tanks during feedings. Yes, some did escape and no they never became a problem outside of their enclosures but otherwise I was wrong. It seems americans are not against eating other cockroach nymphs.

I noticed my P. australasiae nymphs dwindling until I had a small handful left; at this point some were 3i and therefor too big to escape from their sealed enclosure. I thought I must be missing something so I watched the last few nymphs until I noticed a large white eye nymph grab one and chew it up. I had my answer and pulled the adult australians out of the white eye bin. All of my australian nymphs are gone yet my remaining adults are perfectly healthy. Once I get a much larger nymph population again I will combine the species once more. I want them to co-mingle together so I will simply accept that I will lose some nymphs here and there. The general idea is to overpopulate with australian nymphs to keep the white eye's from being capable of devouring all of them again, haha.

Out of my 19 bins 5 of them are multiple species with similar care needs. This is the first time I've had a negative experience with multiple specie enclosures. Go figure it was with one of the easiest to breed cockroaches, haha. :)

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I thought I would add a little side notation to my Periplaneta americana white eye experience.

I keep my white eyed strain mixed with a handful of adult Periplaneta australasiae. The adults seem to get along together just fine, I've never had a problem with it but I've noticed a slightly annoying trend lately with the australian nymphs vanishing. At first I thought a majority of the 1i nymphs simply escaped because I had found a few in other tanks during feedings. Yes, some did escape and no they never became a problem outside of their enclosures but otherwise I was wrong. It seems americans are not against eating other cockroach nymphs.

I noticed my P. australasiae nymphs dwindling until I had a small handful left; at this point some were 3i and therefor too big to escape from their sealed enclosure. I thought I must be missing something so I watched the last few nymphs until I noticed a large white eye nymph grab one and chew it up. I had my answer and pulled the adult australians out of the white eye bin. All of my australian nymphs are gone yet my remaining adults are perfectly healthy. Once I get a much larger nymph population again I will combine the species once more. I want them to co-mingle together so I will simply accept that I will lose some nymphs here and there. The general idea is to overpopulate with australian nymphs to keep the white eye's from being capable of devouring all of them again, haha.

Out of my 19 bins 5 of them are multiple species with similar care needs. This is the first time I've had a negative experience with multiple specie enclosures. Go figure it was with one of the easiest to breed cockroaches, haha. :)

Hi vfox, do you believe that this predatory behaviour of the white eye strain nymphs could be particular and isolated of this variation of the P americana as a survival behaviour of their blind eyes nature ?? or this predatory behaviour of the nymphs could be also generalized on the whole P americana as a species ?? thanks, regards.

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To be honest I am not certain. My Australians have just popped out two new ootheca so I will have babies in a while again. I might try and introduce a handful into my regular american colony and see what happens. I am curious about it myself.

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  • 2 months later...

Not that this is much of an update but I wanted to share what has become of my Periplaneta strains as of late.

Periplaneta americana (regular) is doing well as always, I have around 25-30 breeding adults and maybe 200-250 nymphs of all sizes.

Periplaneta americana (white eye) is exploding in numbers lately. Last count was 16 adults and around 18 sub adults with 100-150 small-medium nymphs. I'm excited they are doing so well.

Periplaneta australasiae are still not doing so well. 6 adults and about 8-10 large nymphs. The smallest nymphs are still vanishing. I'm going to start pulling ootheca to hatch separately soon.

Periplaneta brunnea is my newest addition. I'm at 5 adults and 2-3 sub adults with a small number of nymphs. These guys just recently matured so I'm still waiting on the first nymphs, ootheca have been produced however.

I hope once Kyle's colony of Periplaneta fuliginosa start producing well I'll be able to get some nymphs in the spring, fingers crossed to have all of the available species in the US hobby of these wonderful insects.

I know Periplaneta creeps a lot of you guys out, but give them a try, you'll love this robust and active cockroach!

(and if you can't deal with their breeding and general speed try E. floridana as a good segway species...soooo easily handled, and they smell like almond extract!)

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I'm not sure how my Periplaneta fuliginosa are doing... I think there's some sort of parasite predating on their oothecae! All I keep finding are these weird little white and black bugs crawling all over the egg cases and cartons. I wonder if their presence is stressing out the adults. Unfortunately I don't think there will be babies any time soon, at least, not as long as these mysterious black and white things are around! :P

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