Everything to Know About the Cockroach Life Cycle

Discover what a cockroach's life cycle is like to understand how to identify and combat these household pests.

Cockroaches are an ancient insect, going back more than 200 million years. They survived through their ability to reproduce and make it through extended periods of inconvenient environments.

Cockroach Life Cycle

When you discover a cockroach in the home, immediate steps should be taken to get rid of the pest. The best way to figure out what to do is by understanding the cockroach and what its life cycle is like. A cockroach undergoes three developmental stages throughout its life: egg, nymph, and adult stages.

Reproduction – Egg Stage

Female cockroaches can lay from 10 to 55 eggs at a time. The majority of cockroaches are oviparous, meaning the eggs develop outside of the mother instead of inside. To protect their young, cockroaches create nests and lay eggs in warm, moist and tight spaces conducive to a safe and viable environment. Here’s what a cockroach egg looks like:

cockroach eggsDzurag/Getty Images

Typically it will take the eggs one to two months to hatch, but depending on the species it can happen faster or slower. Their ability to frequently reproduce makes cockroaches difficult to control. Depending on the species, a female can lay eggs multiple times a year and produce hundreds, even thousands of offspring a year. Discovering cockroach infestations early and removing them quickly is vital to containing their spread.

Baby Cockroach – Nymph Stage

Once a cockroach egg hatches, the babies enter the nymph stage. In this stage a cockroach will go through moltings or instars, shedding their exoskeletons to grow and get bigger. At the beginning, baby cockroaches will be white before darkening to their normal brown coloration as they molt and mature.

d3j4vu/Wikimedia Commons

Depending on the species, female cockroaches may not care for their nymphs. Some will abandon their young by hiding away from the nest while others care for their offspring throughout their nymph stage. The nymph stage can last from a few months to almost a year.

Developed Cockroach – Adult stage

Once a cockroach experiences its final molting, it will be a fully-functional and sexually-active adult. The average adult cockroach will be 1-1/2 to 3 in. long with three pairs of legs, two pairs of wings and a long pair of antennae on the front of their head. Most cockroaches are brown.

cockroach adult xjbxjhxm/Getty Images

While many cockroach species have wings, the majority do not fly. However, they will crawl quickly from place to place, traveling up to two to three miles per hour to avoid predators. As adults, females will begin courting and attract males to begin the reproduction process.

Cockroach Lifespan

The average lifespan for a cockroach is one to two years, with some species living as long as a decade. One of oldest surviving insects on the planet, it is estimated that cockroaches have existed for 200 million years, with some believing they go back even 350 million years. Their ability to reproduce often and in large numbers, along with their sturdy exoskeleton and survival instincts, allow them to continue on.

Cockroach Resources

For more information about cockroaches and what it means when you find this pest in your home or business, check out these pest control articles.


  • https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/resources/vector288to301.pdf
  • http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7467.html#IDENTIFICATION