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COCKROACH FACTS AND MYTHS

04/13/2015

While roaches aren’t something you want to find in your house, there are a lot of cockroach facts out there that you’ll probably find interesting. There are also many myths and misconceptions about these fascinating insects, which muddy the waters. This makes it hard to separate ‟cockroach fact” from ‟cockroach fiction.”

Some of the following supposed myths are just that, a myth. Other ‟myths” have a grain of truth to them, based on the facts provided. It’s time to separate the truth from the lies, once and for all.

Are all roaches bad roaches?

Supposed Myth: All cockroaches are bad cockroaches.

The Facts: While they might not be good, not all of them are bad, so this is false. Of the thousands of species of cockroaches in the world, only about one percent are considered pests. That equals about 30 types of roaches. Those most commonly found in U.S. households pretty much make up your ‟bad guys.” They are the American, German, Oriental and brown-banded cockroaches.

Can a roach survive a nuclear blast?

Supposed Myth: Cockroaches can withstand a nuclear explosion.

The Facts: Nope. This is one of the most common myths to be quoted as a fact. The truth is that a cockroach can withstand 10 times more radiation than a person, but they would not survive a nuclear event. However, there are much easier ways of getting rid of them.

Did cockroaches exist when dinosaurs did?

Supposed Myth: Cockroaches walked the earth at the same time as the dinosaurs.

The Facts: This one’s not a myth at all, it’s true. The cockroach is estimated to be at least 200 million years old. And since there are roach fossils dating back as far as 350 million years, they actually pre-date some dinosaurs.

Can cockroaches make my allergies worse?

Supposed Myth: Cockroaches cause allergies and make people sick.

The Facts: This is no myth, but rather, a severe problem. Cockroaches produce proteins that some people can be sensitive to, particularly those with asthma. The trails of fecal matter and decaying molted exoskeletons that roaches leave behind also contribute to the allergens they produce. Roaches also carry bacteria, which can lead to the spread of disease as roaches crawl across food or surfaces in the home.

Is it true roaches can live without a head?

Supposed Myth: Cockroaches can live without their heads.

The Facts: Not a myth, but a ghoulish fact. A cockroach body can survive without a head for up to a week. This is because a roach breathes through small holes in its body segments and has an open circulatory system. Since it doesn’t need its head to breathe, it can survive without one for a short time. However, without a way to drink water, the roach eventually dies of dehydration.

Do all roaches fly?

Supposed Myth: All roaches fly.

The Facts: That’s a myth. Only some species of roach can fly. Others use their wings to stabilize themselves when they jump, which might appear as flight, but it’s not. Some roaches can’t even do that.

Are bigger roaches a bigger problem?

Supposed Myth: The bigger a roach, the worse it is.

The Facts: Not even close. The size of a roach does not always make a difference in whether or not it is more dangerous or problematic. The smallest roach can carry disease just as frighteningly as a larger one.

Am I safe from roaches if my house is always clean?

Supposed Myth: Roaches only invade dirty homes.

The Facts: This is a myth. Roaches might enter clean homes, depending on ease of access to the water and food sources in the home. Dirtier homes just provide easier access, so it is more common. This is why it is important to not only keep your home clean, but also to ensure that cracks and points of entry for roaches and other insects are properly sealed.

Will roaches really eat anything in sight?

Supposed Myth: Roaches will eat anything.

The Facts: The opposite of a myth, this is 100 percent true. Roaches eat everything from plant matter to people food, dead skin cells, garbage and even feces.

Does anything eat roaches?

Supposed Myth: The only thing that kills roaches is roach treatment.

The Facts: Patently false. Roaches have natural predators and aren’t very high up on the food chain. In addition to people’s attempts to remove the household pests, there are animals, centipedes and certain species of wasp that prey on cockroaches.

Is it true that roaches like beer?

Supposed Myth: Roaches drink beer.

The Facts: Some roaches do seem to like alcoholic beverages, beer included. This is not a myth, though it’s likely because of the sugars found in alcohol, not because roaches like to party.

How long does a roach live?

Supposed Myth: Roaches live for decades.

The Facts: Cockroaches can live anywhere between a few months to a couple of years, depending on the species.

Is there anywhere on Earth you won’t find a roach?

Supposed Myth: Roaches are everywhere.

The Facts: That’s a myth, but just barely. There are species of roaches on every continent except one. Roaches are adaptable and find ways to survive in most environments, just not in Antarctica.

Roaches don’t breathe air, do they?

Supposed Myth: Cockroaches don’t breathe oxygen.

The Facts: As preposterous as this sounds, there is some truth behind this myth (yes, it is a myth). Studies suggest some roaches can go up to 40 minutes without breathing, if necessary, and others can survive up to 30 minutes underwater. They do, however, breathe oxygen. Scientists are investigating whether or not roaches sometimes hold their breath to prevent water loss. The same tubes – called spiracles – that roaches use to breathe are also used to transport water vapor out. If the tube is shut, the roach retains water.

How long can a roach go without food?

Supposed Myth: A roach can survive for a long time without eating.

The Facts: This is true, but the news isn’t all good for the cockroach. Most roaches can go up to a month without food because they are cold-blooded. However, they will die in a week if they do not have access to water.

How fast can a roach travel?

Supposed Myth: Roaches move really, really fast.

The Facts: Indeed they do. A cockroach can move at speeds of more than three miles per hour, which is very fast given their size. Even a baby cockroach, called a nymph, can travel at close to those speeds.

Cockroach facts certainly are interesting, but only from afar. If you have cockroaches in your home, the only fact you need to know is that a pest management professional can help you get rid of them.