Roaches Are Forever

Posted by Mosquito Squad
Roaches Are Forever

February 5, 2024

Author: Emma Grace Crumbley, Entomologist 

Roaches Are forever

Love them or hate them, roaches will roam the planet long after everything else is gone…or will they? It seems that across every media you can think of roaches are pictured as indestructible, but could a cockroach actually survive a nuclear fallout? Let’s take a closer look at what makes roaches so difficult to control for to get our answer.

Cockroach Biology

Cockroaches belong to the scientific order Blattodea, an order made up entirely of roaches. From German Roaches to Smoky Browns to Madagascar Hissers, all cockroaches share a few key traits in common:

  • Flat, oval bodies
  • Long antennae and cerci (tail-like appendages)
  • Wings (yes, some roaches do fly)
  • Spiky Legs

All of these traits equip cockroaches to hide in hard-to-reach places and climb most any structure, which makes controlling for roaches difficult.

Aside from their anatomy, roaches also have behavioral traits that allow them to evade obstacles and survive. Cockroaches are positively thigmotactic, meaning they enjoy being in cracks and crevices where they are being touched on all sides. This is why roach infestations often are found in cabinets, behind appliances, or in wall voids. Roaches can flatten themselves to fit in tight areas, and they enjoy staying there.

Nuisance or Nonsense

Their anatomical advantages and bizarre behaviors allow roaches to evade pest control methods… but are roaches actually indestructible? To answer our question further, I’ve compiled a list of real roach facts that make them a nuisance, and fake facts that are simply nonsense:

  1. Roaches can live without their heads.

This is… TRUE! According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), roaches can live up to a week without their head attached. This is largely in part due to the way roaches breathe. When they take in air, roaches use spiracles located all along their thorax, so even without their head, roaches can still breathe and technically survive. Humans on the other hand breathe through our mouth and nose, making it impossible for us to function at all without our heads. That being said, while roaches don’t need their head to survive a short period, the lack of food and water intake will cause them to die of starvation eventually.

  1. Roaches can extreme climates and radiation.

This is… FALSE! Cockroaches are not bullet-proof, and direct radiation would have similar damaging effects as it would for any living organism. In the case of roaches, their ability to hide in hard-to-reach places and their speed when crawling allows them to escape most high radiation scenarios. German roaches are a great example of this as they often infest appliances, like microwaves. If you stuck a German roach in the middle of the microwave, it would not survive the heat and radiation. However, German roaches can run faster than the microwave takes to heat up, and microwave ovens provide ample hiding places for roaches to infest.

  1. Roaches can live a long time without food.

This is… TRUE! Roaches are omnivorous and eat a variety of things. From decaying matter to fresh food, roaches will even eat each other if food becomes scarce! If there is absolutely no food to be found though, roaches can still survive upwards of three months. However, if water also become scarce (whether that’s standing water they can drink, or moisture in the air), roaches will only survive about a week. This means that an all-out-fall-out is fine for roaches… as long as some kind of fresh water remains.

  1. Roaches can become immune to certain pesticides.

This is… hard to say! While there is research that suggests that roaches can become resistant to certain pesticides and chemicals, it is also true that chemical control is not the only method used to knockdown roach populations. Physical control, such as vacuuming up roaches or catching them on glue boards, can drastically reduce a population before chemical action is needed. Another thing to note is that roaches reproduce at a rapid rate.

Don’t Let Roaches Ruin Your Day!

All and all, roached aren’t actually forever… but left untreated for, they may as well be! Don’t let roaches take shelter in your home. Call the Pros at Mosquito Squad today at (512) 488-5331 to get a free quote.