30+ Interesting Facts About Cockroaches

  1. There are more than 4,600 species of cockroaches on earth. They are present on every continent except Antarctica.
  2. Out of these large numbers of species, about 30 cockroach species are present in the human habitat. Among these, only four are pests.
  3. Cockroaches evolved around 300 million years ago, even before the emergence of different continents. It is one reason that they are present almost everywhere on earth. (Source)
  4. Cockroaches change their gait to run at higher speeds when in danger. The cockroach is the first insect where this type of gear shifting (equivalent to a horse switching from trot to gallop) has been seen. (Source)
  5. Pest cockroaches spread filth and cause material damage. They feed on human feces and food and thus can spread disease-causing germs. They act like houseflies and play a supplementary role in causing diseases. They are carriers of germs that cause poliomyelitis, cholera, diarrhea, plague, leprosy, etc. (Source)
  6. Despite being known as pests, cockroaches are also used as food and medicine in many countries. Cockroach farming is a common feature in some countries. A prominent example is an indoor farm in China that breeds 6 billion cockroaches annually for medicinal purposes. It is the world’s largest cockroach farm managed by AI (artificial intelligence). (Source)
  7. Diploptera punctate is the only known species of cockroach that give birth to young and produces milk. According to a scientific study, this milk is four times as nutritious as cow’s milk and is considered a future superfood. (Source)
    An Asian cockroach on a leaf
    Cockroaches have a firm and flexible exoskeleton

  8. The exoskeleton of cockroaches is made of numerous plates connected by a flexible membrane. The combined firmness and flexibility allow a cockroach to withstand pressure 300 times its body weight. In some instances, this tough exoskeleton can even resist a force 900 times its body weight. (Source)
  9. Few species of cockroaches (German cockroaches and American cockroaches) are cannibals. They will eat dead, wounded, or weak cockroaches in case of food scarcity. (Source)
  10. Cockroaches can live without a head for weeks. It is possible because: they have an open circulatory system, can breathe through small holes in their body, and survive without food for weeks by just eating a single day. (Source)
  11. In contrast to popular belief, cockroaches are not radiation-proof but just radiation-resistant. They can tolerate higher radiation levels than humans but cannot survive extremely high radiation from powerful nuclear explosions. (Source)
  12. Due to the absence of hemoglobin, male cockroaches have white-colored blood. However, female cockroaches occasionally have orange-colored blood when they are carrying eggs.
  13. The cockroach is one of the few insects that can hold breath for several minutes. They use this ability specifically to decrease water loss from the body. (Source)
  14. Few species of cockroaches can survive underwater for a long duration. They can do so, thanks to their ability to hold their breath.
  15. The longest cockroach species is Megaloblatta blaberoides. It can attain a length of 97 mm (3.8 in).
  16. Cockroach have also assisted in the progress of a few scientific inventions, especially the cockroach-liked robot. These robots act as rescue robots and contain several features similar to that of cockroaches. (Source)
  17. Like ants and bees, cockroaches have also shown the behavior of collective decision-making. They usually dine together, and this group discussion happens around a meal source. (Source)
  18. Cockroaches can also bite and eat the flesh of the living and dead humans. They prefer biting fingernails, hands, feet, and eyelashes, which can cause infection. Most serious cases of cockroach bites have been seen on ships and in areas where their population outgrows the food sources. (Source)
  19. Cockroaches are one of the fastest insects on earth. Their start speed is faster than the blink of an eye, and they can run up to 50 body lengths per second. Humans with the same speed can run up to 200 miles per hour. Three knees in each of their six legs make their gate fast and accurate. (Source)
  20. Female cockroaches can reproduce for years without mating with male cockroaches. These cockroaches produce generations of female cockroaches. (Source)
  21. Australian giant burrowing cockroach, also known as rhinoceros cockroach, is the heaviest cockroach species that can attain a weight of 35 g.
  22. The cockroach is a favorite food for several mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and other insects. Their common hunters are ants, hedgehogs, lizards, frogs, turtles, rats, and mice. Parasitic wasps are also known to eat cockroach eggs.
  23. According to research, the brains of cockroaches contain natural antibiotics that can protect against deadly bacteria. There are at least nine separate antibacterial molecules in a cockroach’s brain. Each of these is specialized to kill different bacteria, including those harmful to humans. (Source)
    Antibiotic test plate
    Brain and gut of cockroach contains natural antibiotics

  24. The brain is not the only part of a cockroach’s body that hosts antibacterial compounds. According to a study, their gut also contains compounds with bactericidal and amoebicidal properties. These natural compounds can lead to the development of new successful therapeutic drugs. (Source)
  25. Despite having wings, most species of cockroaches cannot fly. Few of the species use these wings either to glide or only to fly for short distances.
  26. Leaproach is the only species of cockroach that can jump. This roach in South Africa can leap like a grasshopper. (Source)
  27. Cockroaches sleep (or remain inactive) for around 20 hours a day. They remain active only for 4 hours after dark.
  28. Meat, sweets, and starches are the favorite food of cockroaches. However, these insects will eat any organic food available to them. It includes hair, books, sewage, decaying wood, dead trees, etc.
  29. A single female cockroach can produce numerous young cockroaches every year. There are 16 to 50 eggs in an egg case, depending on the cockroach species. 
  30. Cockroaches can learn like dogs and humans due to their memory and learning abilities. Their learning process depends on one of the several neurons in their brains. (Source)
  31. Most cockroaches cannot survive extremely low temperatures. But one of the species, native to Japan, can survive chilly cold winters thanks to a natural antifreeze compound in its body. (Source)
  32. Cockroaches can infest both dirty and clean houses. They can get inside a house through grocery bags, furniture, or holes in common walls and plumbing.

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