Can All Cockroaches Fly?
Most people would rather not have unwelcome cockroaches crawling around in their homes or businesses. Roaches can spread filth and disease, and score high marks on the disgusting scale. In fact, the only thing that could make a crawling cockroach worse would be if it could also fly – landing on you or your belongings. So do cockroaches fly?
Cockroach quick facts
There are more than 3,500 identified species of cockroaches, with many more species yet to be discovered. Most roaches are tropical in distribution – occupying a variety of habitats in rainforests and other moist, warm locales.
A total of about 69 species inhabit the United States. Of those, about two-thirds are not native to this country. While that may sound like a lot, only about 10 species are considered household pests.
Can cockroaches fly?
Many species of cockroaches have wings, but not all are good flyers. In fact, most cockroaches do not fly at all.
There are several species capable of flying short distances and a number of other species – including American cockroaches – that use their wings to glide from high elevations to lower surfaces.
Male Pennsylvania woods cockroaches and smoky brown cockroaches are both strong flyers. Australian, Asian and Cuban cockroaches are also capable of flight, but none of these could truly be labeled flying cockroaches.
Feet over flight
One of the reasons that you don't see many flying cockroaches is their size. For insects, cockroaches are relatively large creatures. Their large body mass and flight wings are not conducive to speed or maneuverability. A large, slow flying insect is easy prey for birds or bats. So even though many cockroaches can fly, they still use their highly effective legs for running rather than flying most of the time.
In fact, cockroaches are some of the fastest running insects, capable of covering several feet in a few seconds. The American cockroach has been clocked at 59 inches per second, which is equal to 3.4 miles per hour. At 50 body lengths per second, this roach is about three times the speed of a cheetah. Cheetahs, the fastest land mammal, only cover about 18 body lengths in the same amount of time.
Do cockroaches fly? Some can, but if you observe cockroaches flying in your home, call Terminix® and a pest management professional will bring them down.