The cockroach life cycle varies, depending on the species of the roach. All cockroaches begin as eggs, carried in a capsule known as the ootheca. Cockroaches go through different stages of development, called instars, as they mature into adults. In a single setting, a female cockroach may lay as few as 14 eggs or as many as 36 eggs, with an incubation period anywhere between 24 days and 215 days.

Female cockroaches have longer lives than males, with some living almost two years. Pet cockroaches have been known to live even longer. There are more than 4,500 identified cockroach species living in the world right now. Let’s take a look at the life cycles of some of the most common ones.

German cockroach life cycle

These cockroaches have the highest reproductive rate. A female German cockroach lays about 20 to 40 eggs, with an average incubation rate of 28 days, and will produce an estimated four or five oothecae in her lifespan. That’s about 200 offspring. German cockroaches go through six or seven instars before reaching maturity. This development period takes an average of 103 days. Their average adult lifespan for both males and females is typically less than 200 days.

American cockroach life cycle

The American cockroach is the largest house-infesting roach. A female American roach lays about 16 eggs at a time and will produce about six to 14 oothecae during her lifespan, with an average incubation period of 44 days. That’s up to 224 offspring. American cockroaches go through 10 to 13 instars before reaching maturity; this process takes an average of 600 days. Adult males can live up to 362 days, whereas adult females can live more than 700 days.

Oriental cockroach life cycle

Oriental cockroaches are well-adapted to colder climates, preferring to live in areas where the temperature is between 68 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. However, they are unable to produce egg cases in temperatures below 59 degrees Fahrenheit. A female Oriental cockroach lays about 16 eggs at a time and will produce about eight oothecae during her lifespan – that’s around 128 offspring – with an average incubation period of 60 days. Oriental cockroaches undergo seven to 10 instars, a development process that takes about 589 days. Females have an estimated adult lifespan of 180 days, while males have an adult lifespan of about 160 days.


Cockroaches are one of the oldest living insects on the planet. Their life cycle plays an important role in their ability to survive and populate the earth. Can you imagine having more than 200 siblings, all born within the same year? That would be one very large family, and one very crowded house.