FACTS: Getting to Know Cockroaches

There are many different types of cockroaches identified across the planet. Amongst these, five cockroaches are most common among households. All types of cockroaches are despised by many due to their creepy appearances and the diseases they can potentially spread. Even the most muscular of men jump off to their feet once they see a cockroach.

Cockroaches have existed long before humanity. Cockroaches’ ancestors lived during the Carboniferous period, and they gradually evolved into some of the most adaptable pests in the planet. At present, there are around 4,600 species identified around the world. They belong to the Blattodea order along with termites, and they are commonly found in unsanitized areas, warm environments, and close to food and water.

cockroach facts


Appearance and Behavior

Cockroaches may be defined as primitive and neopteran (winged) living insects. They can measure at least 50 mm in length – but several species are bigger. They have a broad and flattened body, six sturdy legs with five claws each, two flexible antennae and small head. They have two large eyes with over 2000 lenses and mouthparts consisting of chewing mandibles. Most species are reddish brown to dark. They have wings, but some species can’t fly.

Cockroaches are social insects. Research has shown that they also leave pheromones when they poop, allowing other roach follows to discover where they are hiding.  They tend to go in a group and explore the area where they reside to search for food. They also send a signal to other cockroaches when they find a big source of meal.

Most cockroaches are nocturnal as they are more active at night and run away when exposed to light – one species called Blattella asahinai, or Asian cockroach, is an exception. This cockroach flies at night but is mostly attracted to bright and pale colors.

cockroach control


Reproduction and Life Cycle

Cockroaches use chemical signals to attract mates. The courtship practice consists of the production of sound through body contact. Female cockroaches lay eggs, which are encapsulated and protected. These eggs are called ootheca. The number of eggs contained in one capsule is estimated to be more than a dozen. Female cockroaches can produce multiple egg cases in one lifetime.

Cockroaches are considered to be very sturdy insects. Some species hibernate and survive as low as -8°C temperature condition. It also has the ability to survive without food or in very limited resources. Their high resistance to multiple climates and conditions far surpasses the level that humans can live with. In fact, researchers found cockroaches even after the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.


Cool Facts And Myths About Cockroaches

·       Cockroaches are Olympic runners – Indeed, even a baby cockroach can run along side with the adult cockroach. They can travel up to three miles in an hour.

·      Cockroaches can survive even while decapitated – Sounds weird, right? But this scary statement is true. A cockroach can survive headless for a week. This is because their brain does not control all the functions in their body. However, eventually a decapitated cockroach may die of thirst since it cannot drink water.

·       A cockroach can hold its breath – Cockroach can hold its breath for 40 minutes at a time. They can even hold their breath underwater to prevent drowning.

·       Cockroaches can spread a lot of diseases – Very true, this is almost common sense. Cockroaches are scavengers as they eat everything including even feces and dead animal. They diverge and have constant contact with infected objects. Thus they can easily contaminate food spread bacteria like Salmonella and Gastroenteritis.

·       Giant RoachesMegaloblatta longipennis are tropical roaches which can grow up to 8 inches, making it the largest cockroach in the planet. The heaviest cockroach is called rhinoceros cockroach or giant burrowing cockroach which can weigh up to 35 grams while the longest Central American giant cave cockroach can grow up to 10 cm long. Shall we consider ourselves lucky as these giants roaches are not roaming around in our house?

·       Cockroaches are older than dinosaurs – Cockroaches have been around since the time of dinosaurs. Recent studies show that they evolved 359 million years ago, in the Carboniferous period.

·       Some female cockroaches do not need a male to mate– Some female cockroaches are capable of reproducing by themselves if they are caught in a situation where there is no male to be found. Female roach can also store enough sperm to last them a lifetime and stay pregnant for life.

·      Cockroaches do fart – an American cockroach dispenses 35g of methane a year, which is more than 43 times their average body weight.

·       A cockroach can walk on ice – Cockroach does not survive well in an extreme cold or hot conditions. However, Japanese cockroach is an exemption for cold temperature. It can hibernate under the snow and able to withstand the cold up to 8° below zero degree. In can defrost itself when the temperature rises up.

·       Not all cockroaches are pests – Only 1% of all cockroach species are considered as pests that invade homes and can be a danger to humans. Some cockroaches are kept as pets, like the Madagascar hissing cockroach.

Cockroaches can live without a head for until a week.


You may be fascinated with these facts, but then again, most cockroaches can be a real danger to humans.  They are known to spread a wide range of diseases by contaminating our food with their waste and saliva. A decomposing cockroach can also cause a severe allergy condition when the excrement and debris become airborne. This is extremely dangerous especially to those suffering breathing difficulties. If your house or building is infested, it is strongly recommended to contact a professional pest control expert to exterminate the pest.

For further information about cockroaches, please refer to this link.

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