12 Interesting Cockroach Facts for Homeowners

From where they get their name to why they die on their back, learn something new with these cockroach facts.

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Why Are They Called Cockroaches?

The name cockroach comes from the Spanish term cucaracha, which derives from the Latin blatta, “an insect that shines the light.” It comes from the insect order Blattodea, which also includes termites. Cockroaches are an ancient bug, with fossils indicating they’ve been around for more than 200 million years.

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What Is a Group of Cockroaches Called?

A group of cockroaches is called an intrusion. Cockroaches are a social bug that typically are found in groups. They live and interact with each other, with some scientists even suggesting cockroaches have personalities. When an intrusion invades a home or a business, the intrusion then is considered an infestation.

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How Many Legs Do Cockroaches Have?

A cockroach’s body is divided into three parts — the head, the thorax and the abdomen. It’s got three pairs of legs. Surprisingly, cockroaches are quite the fast insect, topping out at more than three mph. Their speed and ability to shape their body help it avoid predators and find safety.

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Do Cockroaches Fly?

While the majority of cockroach species have wings, many are not good flyers and will often use their feet for traveling and escape. When cockroaches do fly, they act more as gliders, opening their wings to glide from a higher surface to a lower one. You rarely see cockroaches flying around freely like flies and bees.

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What Do Cockroaches Do?

Often living in warm, moist and dark environments, cockroaches are a social insect, congregating in groups to survive and thrive. They are omnivores who feast on plants, animals, even their own kind. The goats of the insect world, cockroaches spend their lives feasting on basically anything they can find, getting their reputation as “opportunistic eaters.” While their ability to carry basically anything within their bodies often brings dangerous disease and bacteria, it also leads to ecological benefits, such as transporting pollen to increase plant reproduction and adding nitrogen to soils. Socializing, eating, transporting and reproducing are the main functions of a cockroach.

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When Do Cockroaches Come Out?

Cockroaches are nocturnal, coming out at night to hunt and search for food. While cockroaches prefer the darkness, some are attracted to bright lights, making patio and door lighting a common place to find them. Northern outdoor cockroaches will hibernate during the winter and come out with warmer weather in the spring.

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Do Cockroaches Make Noise?

Cockroaches often do not make much noise. If enough of them are together in a small area, you might be able to hear them crawling around or flapping their wings. There are species however, such as the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, that will make a hissing sounds, an indication that they are scared or attracting a mate.

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What Smells Repel Cockroaches?

There are numerous smells that keep cockroaches away. Essential oils with peppermint, lavender, citrus, eucalyptus and other scents are cockroach repellents. Household foods such coffee grounds, lemons, cucumbers and bay leaves carry aromas and substances roaches will not want to be around.

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How Long Do Cockroaches Live?

The average life span of an adult cockroach is one year. Depending on the type of cockroach, it can vary from six months to three years. Cockroaches are a social insect that reproduces rapidly and efficiently.

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How Long Can a Cockroach Live Without Its Head?

Cockroaches are known to live without a head for up to a week, due to a nervous and circulatory system that works outside of the head. While cockroaches can live up to 30 days without food, they will die faster without water.

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Why Do Cockroaches Die on Their Backs?

Cockroaches have top-heavy bodies. Before cockroaches die they lose strength in their muscles, especially those in their scrawny legs. When the weight of their bodies becomes too much, they topple over and die on their backs. If you see any lying on their backs, there is a good chance you were successful in killing the roach.

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What Predators Eat Cockroaches?

Other than people looking to get rid of cockroaches in their homes, the household pest has other predators to worry about. Cockroaches live at the bottom of the food chain and are a healthy protein-filled snack for toads, frogs, opossums, lizards, beetles, spiders, wasps, mice, shrews and more.

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Additional 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://extension.umn.edu/insects-infest-homes/cockroaches
  • https://www.epa.gov/managing-pests-schools/cockroaches-and-schools
  • https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/resources/vector288to301.pdf