41 Cockroach Facts and Myths that You Don’t Know

Cockroach Facts

Myths and Facts about Cockroaches

Want to learn more about cockroach facts? Then you are in for a treat! Instead of writing individual posts, I figured compiling a list of myths and facts about cockroaches in one place would be much more beneficial. This post will be updated frequently with new questions from readers and any interesting information we can find out about them over time.

Do cockroaches bite?


Cockroaches are omnivores and theoretically, they do bite everything that’s edible including human, but preferable dead or immobile things. They are not known to be aggressive enough to attack us while we’re awake. However, they might bite us if we do not move around much while we sleep, and that rarely happens. Even if they do, the chances are you won’t actually feel it. Only the larger species could have a chance to bite through our skin, such as American Cockroach. Things might be different if you are living in a heavily infested place.

Do cockroaches sleep?


Most of the cockroach pest species have specific activity rhythms. They tend to “sleep”(or inactive) during the day and start to become active at night to look for food, usually four hours after lights out. That is why we often see them running around during our midnight snack and bathroom runs. However, this does not apply to places with medium to heavy roach infestation, where there are too many of them and they have to come out at other times for food. Even I have seen one or two during the day (rarely).

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Do cockroaches fly?


Encountering a flying cockroach is one of the most terrifying experiences for many people, unfortunately, some of the pest species do fly for short distances. I have compiled a list of cockroach types and you can find out which of those have flying capabilities. Though most of them are simply gliding.

Do cockroaches lay eggs?


Yes, they do. Cockroach eggs come in batches called oothecae, which looks a little pill-shaped. Some roach families extrude the egg case (ootheca) and deposit it in a safe place to hatch later. However, the most common indoor pest – German cockroach, will carry the egg case with it until it hatches.

Do cockroaches fart?


As a matter of fact, they are the fartiest animal in Britain. An American cockroach gives off up to 35g of methane a year, which is more than 43 times of their average body weight. American cockroach produces methane gas preferentially when fed with high fiber diet.

Do cockroaches have wings?


Many species have wings but not all have the ability to fly (such as German roach). One example of wingless species is the Madagascar hissing cockroach. They do not have wings at any stages of their life-cycle.

Do cockroaches have emotions? (Or feel pain)


There is no evidence that cockroaches can feel happy, angry or fearful. They simply react to environmental cues with reflexes but we don’t interpret those as emotion. There are not enough research on this matter and more studies need to be conducted for a more definitive answer.

Do cockroaches have eyes?


Roaches do have eyes that rest on top of the head. Unlike human eyes with one lens, they have over 2000 lenses. That gives them an excellent vision to see more than one thing at a time, which is useful for them to view what’s happening around them. One interesting fact is that they can see quite well in green light but can’t see in red light.

Do cockroaches carry disease?


They are scavengers and they eat everything that’s edible including rotting garbage, dead rats, and moldy cheese etc. Ingested bacteria can survive in their digestive system up to months or years. Most of the pest species such as American cockroach and German cockroach may spread a range of diseases to us by contaminating our food with their waste and saliva. Diseases they may carry include salmonella and gastroenteritis (and more).

Do cockroaches have blood?


They do have blood, but it’s not in red color because they don’t use hemoglobin to carry oxygen. Most of them have colorless blood except adult female cockroach, which is occasionally orange in color.

Do stepping on a pregnant cockroach releases her eggs?


Many people believe that stepping on or crushing a pregnant cockroach will immediately release her eggs and cause an infestation. The fact of the matter is that the eggs inside a mother cockroach will die along with her (unless it’s partially stepped on).

Do cockroaches cause allergy?


A cockroach allergy is a real medical condition. Sufferers of the condition have a reaction when the excrement and debris from decomposing cockroaches become airborne. This debris is then breathed in through the bronchial tubes. It can be extremely dangerous for anyone whose living space has been infested with cockroaches. There are also suspected links between high asthma rates and the presence of cockroaches in urban environments.

Do Cockroaches speak?


While it may be true that the majority of cockroaches don’t speak, there is one variety that’s the exception. The Madagascar hissing cockroach holds the distinction of being the only insect that uses its air passageways to produce a sound. This works in much the same way as human vocal cords do. The large size and wingless nature of this variety of cockroach is the reason why it is often used as a token insect in movies.

Do they only live in dirty homes?


Being a neat freak won’t automatically protect you from cockroaches invading your home. The fact is that a colony of roaches can easily form in a clean home. Their ability to thrive in a space all comes down to finding a food source.

Do cold temperatures kill cockroaches?


They do not survive well in extreme hot or cold temperatures. They do have physiological mechanisms that allow them to survive the cold if the temperatures are gradually lowered. However, If you put an infested appliances at room temperature into the freezer, they will most likely be dead within half an hour because they simply can’t adapt that quickly. This method can be used to kill their egg cases too, but it will take a prolonged exposure to cold temperatures (several hours or more) for the job to be done.

Can a cockroach live without its head?


It could potentially live up to one month without its head, provided that it’s not infected by bacterium, virus or get eaten by predators. One of the reasons is that it does not require the brain to control the breathing process at all. A cockroach breaths through spiracles, which can be found in each segment of the body. The spiracles then deliver air to each body cell through tracheae (a set of tubes).

Aside from that, cockroach doesn’t have blood pressure like we do, so cutting off its head doesn’t make it bleed to death, and their necks would seal off just by clotting. A cockroach doesn’t need much food to survive and a meal they had one day would be enough for them to last for weeks since it’s pretty much doing nothing without its head. Another fun fact, a decapitated roach head can wave its antennae for several hours, and last even longer if given nutrients and refrigerated.

Can roaches survive a nuclear explosion?


If a lethal dose is 800 rems (unit of radiation dosage) for human, then roaches could tolerate up to 125 times of rems. Insect researchers have found that the lethal dose for American cockroach is 67,500 rems and German cockroach is between 90,000 to 105,000 rems. Of course, if the nuclear explosion was powerful enough then not even these ancient critters could survive, but they do have favorable odds compared to us!

Can they get stuck in your ear?


Cockroaches have been known to crawl inside the ears of children and adults while they sleep. The problem is that cockroaches do not have the ability to move backward. This means that they have no way of crawling out of an ear canal once they’ve gotten inside. Once they are lodged inside an ear, they can cause ear pain and infection before being removed by a physician.

What do cockroaches eat?


Roaches eat virtually everything as long as it’s organic (no plastic or steel). They do have a priority list but they aren’t too picky.  Sweets, starches and animal proteins are their favorite food. A wide range of other food sources includes dead animals, rotting garbage, human waste, soap, plants, book bindings, human hair, and fingernails etc.

What does a cockroach look like?


There are several characteristics you should look for when identifying a cockroach. It is a six-legged creature with an oval-shaped, flat and low-lying body. It also has a long antenna, which makes it very easy to differentiate from other insects. Depends on the species, some are fast-moving with wings and some are not. As for baby cockroach (Nymphs), they are just smaller and not fully developed (e.g. baby German cockroach doesn’t have wings).

What does a cockroach nest look like?


You certainly wouldn’t want to see this in your home because it would be an indication of a heavy infestation. Basically, it’s just a spot where all of them hanging out together. They don’t have a queen or hive like the bees.

Another interesting fact – some roaches such as the German cockroach, produces aggregation pheromone that attracts other roaches to the area. The more roaches live in a habitat, the more attractive it becomes to others.


What do cockroach droppings look like?


They look like black ground coffee, slightly larger than grains of sand and are easy to spot. Some larger roaches would leave behind barrel-shaped feces. Mice droppings usually have a twist at the end so this is one way to differentiate them.

What is the lifespan of a cockroach?


Lifespan may vary depends on species. They could live up to a few months or years. Each species has a different life expectancy.

What is the scientific name of cockroach?


The scientific name of cockroach is “Blattaria”.

Why do cockroaches die on their backs?


It’s a common misconception. They do not always die this way in the natural world. They often flipped over only when killed by insecticides. This is largely due to the nerve poisons that disrupt the neurotransmitter and cause muscular spasms. They simply can’t flip back without muscular coordination and eventually die on their backs. Another fun fact is that roaches are not used to living on a polished floor or any slippery surfaces. They might have trouble to re-position themselves if they fell upside down on a polished floor without anything to grab ahold with its legs.

Why do cockroaches come towards you?


Many people have noticed that cockroaches will actually run towards humans instead of fleeing. This action actually has little to do with the roach wanting to attack you or be aggressive. The reality is that they can’t even see you. However, a roach is likely to move in a direction that takes them away from air currents. They will actually try to get away from any wind or air they feel at their backs. This likely explains why they seem to be advancing towards humans when they’re exposed to air.

Additional Cockroach Facts and Myths

Cockroaches Have Been around since the Dinosaur Age


Those same cockroaches that roam high-rise apartments in Manhattan have been on the planet since the days when dinosaurs ruled the land. Cockroaches are known to be hearty and resistant to environmental adversity. It is clear to see that whatever wiped out the dinosaurs didn’t slow down cockroaches.

Cockroaches Can Survive a Hunger Strike


A cockroach can actually go up to a full month without any food. This is one of the reasons why these insects are so good at remaining out of sight. They can also go about two weeks without any water.

They Hate Light


We have an image in our heads of cockroaches scurrying into the shadows as soon as a light is placed on them. The truth is that cockroaches don’t actually have an aversion to light. The reason they scurry is that the light signals to them that their hiding spot has been uncovered by humans. In fact, forest cockroaches at Mount Kinabalu Sabah in Malaysia have been observed going towards lights. Cockroaches in the wild have not yet learned to associate light with human attempts to eradicate them with sprays and other anti-pest methods.

They Don’t Need Air


While cockroaches do technically need air to live, they can go quite a while without taking a breath. These insects can actually hold their breath for 40 minutes at a time. This makes them excellent at hiding in unusual spaces. A roach can even hold its breath underwater to prevent drowning.

Roaches Are Great Runners


If there was an insect Olympics, cockroaches would almost certainly come in first in the spiriting competition. Cockroaches can run at speeds of up to three miles per hour. Keep that in mind the next time you’re trying to get away from one!

They Are Diverse


There isn’t just one type of cockroach. While many people think of the classic black cockroaches that roam the halls and walls of homes and apartment buildings, this particular variety only accounts for a very small portion of the entire group. There are actually 4,000 different living species of cockroaches scattered throughout the world. These varied species cover a wide variety of sizes, colors, and habits. There are roaches in places like Australia that can grow as large as a songbird. Of course, scientists have so far only discovered a fraction of the millions of species of insects that actually exist on our planet. There is a good chance that we aren’t even close to discovering and identifying every type of cockroach out there.

They Only Come Out at Night


A significant number of cockroaches are actually nocturnal. However, many of the thousands of varieties out there are not exclusively nocturnal. Forest cockroaches, for instance, are active during the day. The average cockroach that has infested a home is only active for about four hours each night. You are quite likely to see cockroaches scurrying around your home during the daylight hours.

They Like to Cuddle


Cuddling may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the hard, foreboding bodies of roaches. However, these insects enjoy the feeling of having something solid come in contact with their bodies. They especially enjoy being surrounded on all sides. This is why they often seek out the comfort of cracks and crevices in walls and other structures.

Cockroaches Don’t Benefit Humans


There is a good chance that cockroaches may have played an important role in helping early humans enjoy safe places to sleep at night. Scientists know that cockroaches that dwell in caves around the world actually remove bat dung from walls and ceilings. It is believed that this behavior actually benefited our ancient ancestors because it allowed them to dwell in caves without the danger of being surrounded by toxic bat droppings.

They Can Be Trained Like Dogs


Fido isn’t the only one who can do tricks anymore! Roaches can actually be trained by humans to react to stimuli. Scientists have performed studies that introduced the scent of peppermint or vanilla before giving roaches sweet treats. It was observed that over time cockroaches would drool whenever their antennas detected those scents.

They’re Good for the Planet


Many scientists consider cockroaches to be Mother Nature’s recyclers. Their habit of eating leaves, branches and other vegetation helps to return plant matter back into the soil. In addition, cockroaches also serve as food for birds, lizards, and larger insects out in the wild.

Envelope Glue Is Covered in Roach Eggs


This one falls under the topic of an urban legend. Somewhere along the way, it became commonly believed that the glue on envelopes attracts cockroaches. The stories began to spread that these strips of glue were infested with microscopic cockroach eggs that would attach to your tongue and hatch inside your mouth if you licked an envelope. While roaches do like to eat glue if it’s available, there is actually no proof that envelope glue is any more likely to attract the insects that any other object in a home or office. What’s more, the stomach-turning tales about friends, family members, acquaintances or random postal workers having cockroach eggs hatch in their mouths after licking envelopes are unsubstantiated.

They Don’t Live Long in Dry Spaces


Cockroaches thrive in moist environments. They don’t do as well in dry ones. Many cockroaches die when the home or building they’ve made a home in becomes overly dry because of seasonal changes or heaters.

They’re Just Pests


The cockroaches that pop up in our homes only represent a very small percentage of the total cockroach population in the world. Scientists actually only categorize about 1 percent of the world’s total cockroach population as pests. The rest are seen as useful insects that populate everything from dense forests to deserts in the most exotic portions of the world.

They’re a Part of History


When you’ve been around for a few million years, you’re bound to make your way into some books. Cockroaches have been mentioned in literary works that date back to ancient times. The ancient Egyptian “Book of the Dead” contains a spell for keeping cockroaches far away. In his “Natural History,” Pliny the Elder recommends crushing the vilified insects at every chance. These works prove that humans have had an adversarial nature with roaches that dates back at least thousands of years.

More Cockroach Facts to Come

Would you like to know more myths and facts about cockroaches? Contact me today and let me know if I missed out anything interesting that isn’t included in this list. I’ll do my best to find out the answers for you. Other than that, make sure to check out our main guide if you are looking to get rid of roaches in your home, especially the bad ones!

Resources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/01/30/cockroaches-farts-animals-methane-global-warming_n_2581674.html
http://aem.asm.org/content/57/9/2628.short
http://animals.mom.me/roaches-eyes-9861.html
https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/cockroaches
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-cockroach-can-live-without-head/
http://www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/1996/12-13-1996/bomb.html
http://www.bio.umass.edu/biology/kunkel/roachrefs.html
http://pestworldforkids.org/pest-guide/cockroaches/
http://insects.about.com/od/roachesandmantids/a/10-Facts-About-Cockroaches.htm
http://newscenter.nmsu.edu/Articles/view/10082/nmsu-professor-answers-10-myths-about-cockroaches
http://www.smh.com.au/environment/scientist-debunks-many-of-the-myths-about-cockroaches-in-new-book-20140511-zr9gp.html
http://listverse.com/2009/03/30/10-fascinating-talking-points-about-cockroaches/
http://www.sciencebuzz.my/en/flora-fauna/myths-vs-facts-about-cockroaches2?showall=1
http://www.livescience.com/4566-truth-cockroaches.html
http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/in-defense-of-the-cockroach
http://www.satyamag.com/aug05/wyse.html
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140918-the-reality-about-roaches
http://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/roach/roach6eng.pdf

11 thoughts on “41 Cockroach Facts and Myths that You Don’t Know”

  1. Ive been trying to get rid of roaches for a while now..I feel like ive tried almost everything besides a professional, because they are out of my price range right now, and would hate to spend that kind of money and it doesn’t work. I’ve read so much on them and some of the facts don’t seem to match what I’m dealing with…I don’t feel as if we are heavily infested, we have bombed which did kill a lot, but basically they all came back..and they are seen at all hours of the day, not just night. And it doesn’t seem to matter if the light is on or not..they also will crawl on us while we are awake, and I’m pretty sure we have been bitten multiple times, because the spots they crawl on end up having a raised bump that itches. I just want any advice on how to get rid of them. I feel like I can’t even cook or keep food in my house because of them. Its making our lives miserable..

    1. Daphnee Manigat

      Hello hi i just recently watch a video that got alot of great responses. Basically it said to get half a cup of boric acid half a cup of sugar then boil 4 eggs take out the yellow part and mix it with the boric acid and sugar till it becomes a thick consistency….lay a few crumbs around your most problematic areas and the will all come out and eat it then die. This has seem to be the most effective and cost effective way I wish you all the best plz let me know how it works for you🤗😘

  2. I relocate roaches from inside my home to several hundred feet away from the house outside. Can they come back?

  3. How far do roaches wander from their original place of birth? Specifically, if I capture a roach in my home, how far away would I have to take it to release it to be sure that it would not come “home” again? P.S. I enjoyed your 41 cockroach fun facts and myths.

  4. Hello!

    I have a question you could perhaps answer. I just discovered a south Texas winged species of roach in my room and instantly sprayed it with Raid as soon as I found it “sleeping” on it’s backside. It did the usual kicking and squabbling before it appeared to die. When I went to pick it up and dispose of it, I noticed it did not appear to have any antennae. So here is my question… Can a roach with no antennas be killed by pesticide?

    I’m asking because I heard that pesticides like Raid have to touch the antennas in order to kill. Please reply as soon as possible!

    Thank you,

    Sierra S.

  5. I’m in Florida and have found roaches in my motor home exterminator will not treat camper. If I drive RV to northern Maine and leave it there for 6 weeks in freezing temperatures will roaches die ?

  6. Arvilla Beecher

    I sprayed several cockroaches running around the patio area trying to get inside I left them all lying on their backs kicking and the next morning they were all gone . Hi was sure they would die . the next morning they were all gone. Where did they go? Do they only die for a little while and then come back to life and leave. that seems to happen a lot around here. I will go back even in a couple hours to make sure they are dead and to get rid of them but they are already gone. It’s driving me nuts! There are no rodents anywhere in the area.

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