It might not be obvious at first glance, but the angelic white creature shown above is an American cockroach (Periplaneta americana). This individual has just molted and is still soft and pale; its wings have not yet expanded to their full size. In a short time, though, its exoskeleton will harden and darken to the familiar deep brown color of this very maligned insect.
One of several species in the Periplaneta genus, none of which are native to the U.S., this is one of the most common cockroach species found throughout the world. It originated in tropical Africa and so thrives in warm climates. In colder areas, it is restricted to warm, damp environments, such as sewer pipes, factories and storage facilities. Here in central Texas, they are especially fond of our compost bin, back porch and garage. When one enters our house, it usually ends up scaling a wall, where, due to its large size and dark hue, it is disturbingly obvious on the white paint. Attacks with a broom often cause these roaches to fly, which they do quite awkwardly, then scurry for cover, which they do quite well. If we manage to mortally wound one, a disgustingly amusing scene follows: the scent of its mangled body causes our dog to begin an ecstatic frenzy of rolling.
Here's a curious factoid: the insects most closely related to cockroaches are termites!