Why would anyone want to spend their valuable time reading up on cockroach facts? We all know cockroaches are disgusting. How much more do you know about these scrappy little buggers?
Sure, we get it – roaches creep you out and the last thing you want to do is study them. Still, taking ten minutes of your time to learn their behavior, habits and what makes them tick will be the smartest step you take to getting rid of roaches for good.
So, without further ado – here are the most important cockroach facts you need to know to get into their heads and outsmart them.
Even the dinosaurs had roach problems…
Don’t feel bad about not being able to instantly wipe out your roach infestation – these buggers are a formidable enemy. After all, they haven’t survived for millions of years by being stupid.
And they have been around that long – fossil evidence indicates that roaches have been on earth for over 300 million years, making them some of the most adaptable pests you’ll ever encounter.
Where do cockroaches live?
Roaches are part of a big, diverse family and they’ve got relatives all over the world. Yup, there are approximately 4,000 living species of cockroaches and they can be found in every continent of the world except Antarctica.
The semi-good news is that only around 70 of these species are found in the United States and only about 5 of these species are likely to invade your personal space. The rest live in forests, underground or in caves, swamps and grasslands.
How long do cockroaches live?
German cockroaches have a lifespan of around 200 days. While this may seem short, it’s enough time to produce as many as 200 offspring. American cockroaches breed slower, but they also live longer, around 1 to 1.5 years.
Oriental cockroaches have much the same lifespan as an American cockroach, while the average lifespan of a brown-banded cockroach is similar to that of the German cockroach.
What do cockroaches eat?
In short: roaches enjoy a diverse diet. There’s good reason roaches have managed to thrive for so long: they can survive on pretty much anything.
Although they prefer sweets, meats and starches, they’re not too picky and will eat just about anything that’s available to them – including, but not limited to: hair, books, glue, grease, soap, wallpaper paste, and leather.
Scavengers by nature, they’ll also munch on decaying wood and other decaying matter, including dead cockroaches.
Roaches can survive without food
Here’s a disturbing roach fact: Although cockroaches have a wide-ranging appetite, if it comes down to it – they can also endure starvation. Being cold-blooded, roaches are able to keep their metabolism rate low enough to survive almost a month without food.
But even roaches need water
Cockroaches may be able to survive a month without food, but they can only live about a week or two without water. Know how long us humans can go without water? Only 3 days.
This is why eliminating water sources is one of the keys to preventing cockroach infestations. Just one drop of water per day is all it takes to keep a cockroach alive and any water or moisture will do – condensation on pipes, small leaks, and even moist sponges.
A roach can lose its head and live
You can decapitate a cockroach but it’ll still survive for about a week or two. That’s all thanks to the fact that their brains don’t control all of their functions – their thorax (located in the middle part of the cockroach) serves as the roach command center.
The only reason they even die in a few week is because without their head, they’re unable to drink water and eventually die of thirst. Yes, water is that important to a roach.
Do cockroaches jump?
Not really. Although cockroaches have very well developed hind legs, they are not designed to launch the animal into the air.
However, some species can use their wings to flip themselves out of danger if startled. While this behavior can look like a jump, the cockroaches don’t have a great deal of control over it.
They certainly can’t use it jump onto you.
Do cockroaches fly?
Some do. German cockroaches, the type of cockroach most commonly found in homes, have wings but are incapable of flight.
American cockroaches can use their wings to glide. This enables them to drop from a high surface to a lower one, but can’t be called true flight. Some less common species of cockroach, such as Asian and Australian cockroaches, can fly.
And Pennsylvania woods cockroaches are strong flyers. However, they don’t live in human homes. At least there’s that silver lining.
Can cockroaches climb?
Cockroaches are excellent climbers. Their legs end in sharp claws, called tarsi, that enable them to grip onto many different kinds of surfaces.
Roaches can run up drywall as easily as they can run along the floor. They can even crawl upside down along the ceiling without falling.
Only very smooth surfaces, such as porcelain and glass, can’t be climbed by cockroaches. That’s why you’ll sometimes find them stuck in the bathtub.
Can cockroaches swim?
You caught a roach and flushed it down the toilet. It’s a goner, right? We hate to break it to you but it’s hard to drown a cockroach.
It’s not because they’re incredible swimmers. Instead, roaches can hold their breath underwater for up to 40 freakin’ minutes – which gives them a lot of time to crawl to safety.
Can cockroaches hurt you?
Roaches may not be capable of gun violence and terrorism but they can be dangerous. You see, cockroaches aren’t just gross and annoying to have around – they also come bearing gifts of disease.
The most common diseases transmitted by roaches are various form of gastroenteritis like food poisoning, dysentery and diarrhea. They’ve also been implicated in the spread of 33 kinds of bacteria, including E. coli and Salmonella; diseases like tuberculosis, typhoid, respiratory illnesses; parasitic worms and other types of human pathogens.
Roaches pick up and carry these disease-causing organisms on their legs and bodies and then deposit them on items like food and utensils when they forage.
Their GI tracts can also harbor and pass along disease. Since they eat pretty much anything, they’re as likely to nibble on a dead mouse as they are a piece of cheese and then pass along the disease through the droppings they leave wherever they travel.
Roaches can stay perpetually pregnant
Even if they’re not inviting their friends, roaches can increase their population by popping out more baby roaches. And they’re weirdly talented at this since cockroaches don’t have to mate every breeding season.
Female roaches can mate just once and then store the sperm, using it for seasons when food is plentiful. In some species, the females can store enough sperm to last them their entire lifetime!
Even worse – laboratory female roaches were found to be able to reproduce without a male.
Roach babies grow up so fast
Roaches begin their lives as eggs wrapped in a thick, protective case called an ootheca which is often carried by the mama cockroach until her eggs are ready to hatch.
The most common roach species in the States, the German cockroach, can hold as many as 40 eggs in one ootheca and even worse? It only takes them around 100 days to go from egg to adult cockroach.
Roaches are great at hiding
The reason you’ll only see a small percentage of the entire roach population hiding out in your house is because these little buggers are excellent at hide-and-seek.
For starters, they’re nocturnal and will usually run away when exposed to light. Plus, they can detect even the smallest of air movements so the moment they sense you coming, they run for cover. The fastest start time recorded by a cockroach was just 8.2 milliseconds after it sensed a puff of air.
And they can run very fast – up to 3 miles per hour (no wonder they’re able to spread germs and bacteria throughout homes so quickly)! And not just on flat surfaces – they can go up walls and travel even on slippery surfaces.
Add to this the fact that most roaches can also fly and have the ability to flatter their bodies to squeeze through cracks as thin as a dime? It’s no wonder the majority of the roach population manages to stay out of human sight.
Cockroaches prefer certain environments
We all have certain qualities we’re looking for in an ideal home, right? Even these annoying, free-loading, disease-spreading buggers have preferences for where they like to shack up.
Roaches prefer temperatures between 25-30° Celsius (77° to 86° Fahrenheit), which is why they’re commonly found in warm environments like buildings and homes.
They’re also privy to homes with lots of little cracks and gaps since roaches are thigmotropic, which means they like to feel something solid touching their bodies, preferably on all sides.
As such, they’ll seek out little cracks and crevices that offer them the comfort of a tight fit. This is why sealing all the little gaps and spaces in your home is one of the first steps to getting rid of cockroaches.
Do cockroaches smell bad?
It’s probably not a good idea to go around sniffing cockroaches. For one, they may find it quite rude.
But the truth is, cockroaches do have a smell to them. German roaches, in particular, produce a musty, oily odor that is difficult to describe but instantly recognizable. The bigger the infestation, the stronger the smell.
Obviously, you’ll want to do something to combat the cockroach infestation well before it gets to this. Here’s how to get rid of cockroaches asap.
Now that you know everything you need to know about roach psychology – go forth and use your newfound knowledge to wipe out that cockroach infestation once and for all!