Cockroaches are known for their resilience and adaptability, making them a common pest in households and businesses worldwide. One factor contributing to their success is their lifespan, which varies depending on the species. For instance, German cockroaches, the most prevalent species in the United States, can live up to 9 months under favorable conditions source.
Different species of cockroaches exhibit varying lifespans and reproductive habits. Adult female German cockroaches can produce four to eight egg capsules in their lifetime source. Brown-banded cockroaches, another common species, live around 200 days and produce six to eight egg cases during their lives source. Understanding the lifespan and reproductive capabilities of these pests is crucial for effective cockroach management and control.
Factors Affecting Lifespan
A cockroach’s lifespan depends on various factors such as species, temperature, and access to food and water. Some common species and their average lifespan are:
- German Cockroach: 6-9 months
- American Cockroach: 1-2 years
- Oriental Cockroach: 1-1.5 years
- Brown-Banded Cockroach: 3-11 months
Here’s a brief comparison table:
For all species, development time from egg to adult ranges from 40 to 125 days. During their lifetime, cockroaches undergo three stages: egg, nymph, and adult. Females lay eggs contained within dark-colored egg cases, with each case containing between 16 and 50 eggs, depending on the species.
Cockroaches are resilient pests and can survive without food for a month. However, they will die in a week if deprived of water. Temperature also plays a vital role in their lifespan. Roaches can’t survive in cold temperatures, so warm environments provide favorable living conditions. Here are a few examples of how temperature affects cockroaches:
- German cockroaches prefer temperatures around 80°F.
- Oriental cockroaches can tolerate cooler temperatures, but will still avoid cold areas.
In conclusion, the lifespan of a cockroach depends on various factors like species, temperature, and access to food and water. These resilient pests can withstand harsh living conditions, making them difficult to eliminate.
Types of Cockroaches
The German cockroach is one of the most common species found in the United States. They are typically 12 to 17 mm (1/2 to 5/8 inch) long and tan to light brown in color, with two dark brown stripes behind their head1. Some characteristics of the German cockroach include:
- Primarily found indoors
- Produce up to eight egg capsules in their lifetime2
- Nocturnal activity
The American cockroach is larger, measuring 1-1/4 to 2 inches (31-51 mm) long3. It is often called a palmetto bug. These cockroaches are darker in color and prefer moist, warm environments. Features of the American cockroach:
- Found both indoors and outdoors
- Less common than the German cockroach
- Known for invading homes during extreme weather
Oriental cockroaches are smaller than the American ones and have a dark brown or black color. They mostly inhabit outdoor environments but invade homes searching for food and shelter4. Key aspects of the Oriental cockroach:
- Predominantly dwell in outdoor areas
- Seek out dark, damp spaces
- Can emit a strong, unpleasant odor
Measuring at about 5/8 inch (16mm) long3, brown-banded cockroaches are relatively small. They have a light brown color and distinctive banding on their wings. Details of the Brown-banded cockroach:
- Prefer drier environments than other species
- Are more commonly found on ceilings, walls, and furniture
- Typically inhabit warm, humid areas
Other Cockroach Species
There are several other lesser-known species, such as the Asian cockroach and Australian cockroach. While not as widespread, these species still exhibit the adaptability and survival skills that define cockroaches. Comparing these various species:
|12 to 17 mm (1/2-5/8″)
|Dark brown stripes
|31 to 51 mm (1-1/4-2″)
|Larger, often called “palmetto bug”
|Similar to German
|Dark color, strong odor
|16 mm (5/8″)
|Banding on wings
Cockroach species can vary in size, color, habitat preference, and other characteristics but are universally considered pests.
Cockroach Life Cycle
Cockroaches begin their life cycle as eggs, which are contained within a protective structure called an ootheca. Female cockroaches will produce:
- 4 to 8 egg capsules during their lifetime
- Each capsule contains approximately 40 eggs
The incubation period varies depending on the species, and females carry the egg capsule until it is about to hatch.
When eggs hatch, they release nymphs, which are baby cockroaches. These nymphs go through a series of developmental stages known as instars. Key points about nymphs include:
- Nymphs are more numerous than adults
- They molt multiple times before reaching adulthood
During the nymph stage, cockroaches mature and develop wings (if applicable). Their speed and ability to climb rough surfaces improve as they grow.
Once nymphs have completed their molting process, they become adult cockroaches, which have a varied life expectancy depending on species and environmental factors. Adult cockroach features include:
- Size ranging from less than 1/2 inch to almost 2 inches
- Mostly nocturnal behavior
- Feeding on a wide range of organic matter
- Preference for moist, dark crevices when not foraging for food
Adult female cockroaches will produce oothecae, starting the life cycle anew.
|Contained in ootheca, female carries until hatching
|Molts multiple times, develops wings and improves mobility
|Produces ootheca, nocturnal, feeds on organic matter
Causes of Infestations
Cockroach infestations often occur when homeowners inadvertently provide food, water, and shelter for these pests. Roaches are attracted to readily available food sources, such as crumbs, spills, and unsealed pantry items. Additionally, they thrive in damp environments, so leaks or excess moisture can also attract them. Examples of conditions that can lead to an infestation include:
- Improperly stored food
- Dripping faucets or pipes
- Cluttered or unkempt living spaces
- Cracks and crevices in walls or floors
Roaches can enter a home through small openings in the structure, such as gaps around plumbing, cracks in the foundation, or improperly sealed windows. They reproduce rapidly, with females laying oothecae (egg cases) containing multiple baby roaches. A significant infestation can quickly develop if the conditions are favorable.
To help prevent cockroach infestations, homeowners can employ various strategies, such as:
- Storing food in sealed containers
- Cleaning spills and crumbs immediately
- Fixing leaks and addressing moisture problems
- Decluttering living spaces and eliminating hiding spots
Moreover, sealing entry points such as cracks, gaps, and damaged screens can limit roaches’ access to your home. Regularly inspecting your property for signs of an infestation and addressing issues promptly can help keep a roach problem under control.
Comparison of prevention tips:
|Reduces food sources for roaches
|Requires diligent upkeep
|Eliminates potential nesting areas
|Keeps roaches out of living spaces
|Can be costly
|Allows early detection of infestations
Implementing these prevention tips and maintaining a clean, well-maintained living space can go a long way in deterring cockroach infestations in your home.
Cockroach and Human Health
Cockroaches are known to cause allergic reactions in some people due to the proteins found in their saliva, feces, and body parts. Common symptoms include:
- Watery eyes
- Nasal congestion
Apart from allergies, cockroaches also contribute to asthma problems. Their presence can trigger asthma attacks in people who are already susceptible to the condition. Here are some factors relating to cockroaches and asthma:
- Cockroach allergens are airborne and easily inhaled
- Exposure to allergens can worsen existing asthma symptoms
- High cockroach populations can increase the risk of asthma-related issues
- A person with known allergies might experience difficulty in breathing when exposed to cockroach allergens.
- People living in buildings infested with cockroaches might have a higher incidence of asthma-related issues.
|Sneezing, nasal issues
|Difficulty in breathing
|People with sensitivities
It is worth noting that due to their open circulatory system, cockroaches can harbor and spread bacteria, which might not directly cause allergies or asthma but can affect overall human health. To minimize the risks associated with cockroaches, it is essential to maintain proper sanitation and control measures in and around living spaces.
Interesting Cockroach Facts
Cockroaches are fascinating insects with unique capabilities. One noteworthy fact is that they are adaptable and can survive on every continent except Antarctica.
Cockroach Life Cycle:
A cockroach goes through three stages during its life cycle: egg, nymph, and adult. The eggs are contained within dark-colored egg cases, which can hold between 16-50 eggs, depending on the species. Once hatched, the young cockroaches are called nymphs and are more numerous than the adults.
Cockroaches exhibit remarkable survival skills.
- Can live up to a month without food
- Die within a week without water
Most roaches can go up to a month without food, but will die in a week if deprived of water.
Cockroaches are incredibly fast movers. They can travel at a speed of 50 body lengths per second when running.
Different cockroach species have varying features. For example, the Oriental cockroach is much darker in color compared to the other species, with wings that do not reach the end of their abdomen.
Comparison of some common cockroach species:
|Tan to light brown
|1/2 to 5/8 inch
|Shorter than the abdomen
Roaches have impressive reproduction capabilities. The German cockroach, for example, produces four to eight egg capsules during its lifetime, each containing numerous eggs. This reproductive behavior ensures a continuation of the cockroach population.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Black Cockroach from Australia
Big, Black and Beautiful
Location: Queensland, Australia
March 11, 2011 6:11 pm
I’m not sure of the ID on this one apart from it possibly being a Platyzosteria species. I often see wood roaches around the place but this is the first time I have ever seen one this big, if it is one, and out basking on a leaf of a sweet potato vine in my garden. Close to 2” long, and has some pretty awesome looking cerci/genitalia?
Rather beautiful don’t you think?
Sorry for the delay, but we have a personal deadline this week that is eating into our posting time allotment. Oz Animals identifies Cockroaches in the genus Platyzosteria as Black Cockroaches.
Letter 2 – Boll's Sand Roach
Bug dragging young?
May 19, 2010
I was hoping you could help with this. I unearthed it digging out a Hell-Strip in Austin Texas. It looks like a huge pill-bug but more “roachy”. And is that a baby it is dragging around behind it?
This fascinating creature is a female Boll’s Sand Roach, Arenivaga bolliana, a species represented on BugGuide by a few photographs. The information page on BugGuide indicates: “The downy females have no wings and burrow in the dust under houses and in natural rock shelters where they feed on packrat droppings.” This is not a Cockroach species that infests homes. We also located the AllPet Roaches Forum that has some discussion on Boll’s Sand Roach. This female is dragging her ootheca or egg case, a behavior pattern characteristic of most Cockroaches.
Thank you so much for the ID Daniel, really appreciated. Please follow up
on my blog, and my next post… I have linked to your services.
Letter 3 – Brownbanded Cockroach
Subject: Bug found on Interior Wall..
December 25, 2013 8:49 am
Never seen a bug crawling up my wall, pretty quick bugger too! Any way you can identify this? Trying to figure out where it came from and how.
This is an immature Cockroach, and we suspect if you have one, there are surely more.
Update: December 16, 2014
We received a comment that this is a female Brownbanded Cockroach, Supella longipalpa, and more information on the Brownbanded Cockroach can be found on the Penn State Entomology site where it states: “Brownbanded cockroaches prefer warm and dry locations, such as near refrigerator motor housings, on the upper walls of cabinets, and inside pantries, closets, dressers, and furniture in general. They can also be found behind picture frames and beneath tables and chairs, and inside clocks, radios, light switch plates, doorframes, and dressers. It is common to find them hiding nearer the ceiling than the floor and away from water sources. Accurate identification is paramount to controlling brownbanded cockroaches. Control strategies for other cockroaches will not be efficacious for brownbanded cockroaches.”
Letter 4 – Austral Ellipsidion Cockroach from Australia
Subject: New bettle
Location: Australia NSW Harrington Park
September 14, 2016 11:19 pm
Dear big man I think I foun a new bettle species if not please send back a letter, it is an aboriginal coloured bettle with aboriginal patterns. It also has two pincer like red things near its abdormen or butt.
If it is new also send a letter back.
We found a Getty Images image of your Cockroach nymph, but it only identified as “Arboreal cockroach, sub-order Blattaria.” According to the Brisbane Insect site, the species is known as the Beautiful Cockroach or Austral Ellipsidion, Ellipsidion australe, and this information is provided: “Not all cockroaches are ugly. This Austral Ellipsidion Cockroach looks beautiful. Its body is orange-brown to dark brown with white patterns. Its thorax is dark brown with a good looking yellow around the edge. The cockroach adult is winged, with brown forewings covered the black and white abdomen. Male and female look almost the same. Nymphs have the similar body structure except wingless.”
Letter 5 – Australian Cockroach
Should I kill myself now, or what?
Having just moved to Florida from the north I am TERRIFIED of getting a cockroach infestation in my apartment. Having said that, I moved down here and lived in a place where I saw two German Cockroaches on separate occasions. I moved into a new place about two months ago. Your web site helped greatly. Now this series of events has happened: a) found a cockroach slightly bigger than a German Cockroach but a dark red like an American Cockroach near my patio door, and killed it, this was after I had moved some boxes and while the lights were on; b) found some roach crap near my microwave days later; and c) caught the big dark red cockroach in this photo sneaking out from under the microwave tonight. I think the Intenet helped me identify this ugly bastard as an "Australian Cockroach." Evidently they aren’t as bad at infestations as Germans or Americans since they don’t get nearly the same press coverage. I haven’t seen any other evidence of roach activity anywhere in my apartment. Please help me if you can. What kind of cockroach is this? Do I have an infestation or just an annoying visitor or two? Can I expect a huge sack of eggs to break inside the outer walls of my microwave, unleashing a torrent of cockroaches I will never fully destroy? What should I do to prevent cockroaches from entering my home?
Floridian In Need
Dear Needy Floridian,
We agree with your identification. The Australian Cockroach, Periplaneta australasiae, is not as invasive as the German Cockroach. The pale stripes at the edge of the forewings are the distinguishing feature. According to BugGuide, they are a tropical or subtropical species that will feed on almost anything. We don’t really consider ourselves to be experts at intervention, but Don’t kill yourself.
Letter 6 – Australian Cockroach in Kent, UK
Subject: can you identyfy this large beetle
Location: hythe, kent
February 28, 2015 2:08 pm
We found this bug in our bathroom , running down the door.
Can you help with his identity
Signature: G West
At first we were going to send a brief response that this is a Cockroach, but we decided the thoracic markings are so striking that we would attempt to identify the species of Cockroach you encountered. After finding several similar looking images that only identified it as a Cockroach, we found the Suffolk Pest Control Company that identified it as an Australian Cockroach, Periplaneta australasia., and that provided this information: “Inspite of their exotic origins Australian cockroaches are making a home for themselves in the UK, where they can found in most major cities.” Not confident that the Australian Cockroach is actually native to Australia, we found this information on BugGuide: “Adult has thorax outlined in yellow with black/brown center marking somewhat like a sideways number eight. Differentiating Australian cockroaches from other species of Periplaneta requires identification of the narrow yellow mark along front outside edge of wings”, but nothing was written about the country of origin. The garden is calling us from additional research at this time.
Thanks for your help. Am guessing we need to contact some form of pest control company as they seem quite dangerous.
Because we d found one , I suppose there are more so will get onto it straight away.
Letter 7 – Beautiful Cockroach from Australia: Austral Ellipsidion
Bug from Australia
Sun, Jan 18, 2009 at 4:56 PM
Never seen this before, found in front yard of my house on a Elm tree leaf, the photo doesnt do it justice it looks much more beautiful in real life thats why i ran into my house to grab the camera and it moves around so swiftly, we are in the middle of summer january 18
According to the Insects of Brisbane website, this is a Beautiful Cockroach or Austral Ellipsidion, Ellipsidion australe. According to the site: “This Cockroach is active at day time, running freely on the leaves and flowers. Most other cockroaches are scavengers, they feed on almost everything. We are not exactly sure what this Austral Ellipsidion Cockroach feed on, but they are always found on plants, seldom on the ground. They are believed feed on pollen, honeydew and mould fungus.”
Letter 8 – Boll’s Sandroach with Ootheca
Subject: Is this some kind of roach?
Location: Harper, TX
October 20, 2012 4:45 pm
Never seen this one before. Looks like a roach from the underside, but it’s topside is like a giant flat doodle bug with fewer segments. It has a reddish ”tail”, maybe a female. It’s not ver clear from the photo. Burrowed in the grass/ground to hide.
Signature: K Bernsen
Dear K Bernsen,
While you are correct that this Boll’s Sandroach is a Cockroach, it is not a species that infests homes. This is a wingless female Boll’s Sandroach, Arenivaga bolliana, or another member of the genus. Males, which are capable of flying, are frequently attracted to lights. According to BugGuide: “The downy females have no wings and burrow in the dust under houses and in natural rock shelters where they feed on packrat droppings.” We believe the reddish “tail” is an ootheca or egg case. The female will carry it about until she finds a suitable place to deposit it.
Letter 9 – Brown Banded Cockroach
Subject: Help – Bug in appartment
December 21, 2014 11:56 pm
Recently, we keep finding these bugs in our apartment around 1-5am (once a week).
These things are very fast but I finally managed to catch of of them alive.
We believe we have correctly identified your Cockroach as a Brownbanded Cockroach, Supella longipalpa, based on this image posted to BugGuide. According to the Penn State Entomology site: “Brownbanded cockroaches prefer warm and dry locations, such as near refrigerator motor housings, on the upper walls of cabinets, and inside pantries, closets, dressers, and furniture in general. They can also be found behind picture frames and beneath tables and chairs, and inside clocks, radios, light switch plates, doorframes, and dressers. It is common to find them hiding nearer the ceiling than the floor and away from water sources. Accurate identification is paramount to controlling brownbanded cockroaches. Control strategies for other cockroaches will not be efficacious for brownbanded cockroaches.”
Thanks Daniel, that looks so right.
I’ve contacted the apartment manager to send in an exterminator and have a look at it,
Letter 10 – Brown Widow eats Cockroach
Subject: Spider eating a cockroach in LA
Location: Los Angeles
August 19, 2013 6:57 pm
We recently started renovations on our garage here in Los Angeles. I couldn’t help but take a picture of this spider eating a cockroach on the side of our garbage can. I can’t figure out what spider it is. Can you help? Thanks! Megan. (in Los Angeles).
Your spider is an introduced Brown Widow, Latrodectus geometricus. According to BugGuide: “World wide in the tropical zone. It was introduced in Florida and has since been observed moving north through Georgia, and into South Carolina; it has also been officially recorded in California, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas. Habitat Found around buildings in tropical climates.(1) However, it is an introduced species and is the most human-adapted of the species occurring in the South Eastern US. Its webs may occur anywhere there is sufficient space to make one. It may be extremely abundant on houses and other man-made structures (e.g., barns, fences, guard rails, bridges). It reproduces frequently and disperses rapidly, making it nearly impossible to control.” As with other introduced species, which we consider Invasive Exotics, the Brown Widow might be contributing to a loss of species diversity by displacing native species where it has been introduced.
Letter 11 – Cockroach in the Dorm
Wed, Oct 22, 2008 at 7:52 PM
So, I’m a sophomore college student in central Ohio. Until recently, I’ve enjoyed residing in the recently renovated dorm on campus. But about 2 or 3 weeks ago, these bugs started showing up, and have made my residence less enjoyable. The first time I found one, I figured it just hitched a ride on my back pack and jumped off when I set my bag down (that’s where I found it the first time – behind my back pack). Then I found another one when my parents picked me up for fall break. And, later, another one FLINGED itself at me while I was putting on make up (it missed, luckily, and landed on my vanity instead of me). A couple days later, I found ANOTHER ONE in front of my fridge. And just tonight, one flew by my head as I was practicing sight singing and landed on my piano.
Sorry the picture isn’t that great. My friend took it. She’s an English major – not a Photography major. There is a reason for that. The bug is probably about a half an inch (maybe smaller?) in length, brown, and smells when you squish it (sorry, bug lovers).
I am not a bug person. Any type of bug freaks me out (unless it’s tiny and cute – like a lady bug, or a very very very tiny spider). If you could tell me what kind of bug this is, and why it likes to hang out in my dorm room so much (my guess is that it wants some place warm to stay, since it’s getting colder outside. They weren’t showing up when it was 70-80 degrees outside – but I’m not an insect expert, so I wouldn’t know), and maybe what I could do – if anything – to keep it from coming back, that would be fantastic!
Sorry to say, but you have Cockroaches in your dorm. Thanks for submitting a thoroughly charming and entertaining letter. Your friend should take a photo class to make friends in the darkroom and improve her photo skills.
Letter 12 – Cockroach Infestation
Subject: Little black bugs…EVERYWHERE
Location: Mesa, Arizona
January 26, 2014 5:30 am
Ok I am freaking out… I have lived in this apartment now for 14 months and I am having a massive bug issue! Now Had I did my research I would not have moved in here because this apartment complex is notorious for bed bug infestations! Lo and behold I am dealing with that issue. But that’s not what I have the question about today. Today I was able to finally catch one of these little buggers! I have no idea what they are, the office tells me that they are bed bugs but I’ve done my research and they don’t look like any Bed Bug photos online. They have taken over my house, I can’t take it anymore! They are all over my kitchen both bathrooms in the showers all over the walls, please can you guys tell me what these are?
Signature: pulling my hair out crazy!
Dear pulling my hair out crazy!,
This is a Cockroach nymph, which means you must also have larger, reproducing adults in your apartment complex.
Oh my god… Wow.
Thank you so much. My apartment complex told me they were bed bugs! I knew I had bed bugs but I didn’t think that’s what those were. I just need to figure out what I’m going to do now.
Thank you thank you thank you!
We find it quite odd that your apartment complex management is admitting to Bed Bugs, but not to Cockroaches.
Letter 13 – Cockroach laying Ootheca, we believe
Location: in my living room ( Maine)
January 30, 2012 10:19 am
This is a colony of false death head roaches. I have had them for a year. They turn out a good product. Im used to the hard case of eggs that they deposit….but now i see this crazy thing…What is it? its soft like ..skin
Signature: Happy Haunting 😉
Dear Happy Haunting,
We learned on the Worm Man website that False Death’s Head Cockroaches, Blaberus discoidalis, are native to Mexico and Central America and they are raised as live food for other exotic pets. In our opinion, this is a freshly laid ootheca or egg case that has still not hardened.