How Long Do Cockroaches Live?

Cockroaches despite their small size, continue to be one among the more reviled pests that can frighten the living daylights out of full grown adults.

Dating back to the carboniferous period, the cold blooded roaches have inhabited the earth for close to 320 million years. However, the modern day cockroaches are stronger versions of their ancient ancestors.

Considered as one among the most resilient insects, the pests are best known for the anecdotes of survival even after atomic explosions.  Though there are conflicting versions of this narrative, the truth is that cockroaches live long, and are known to survive in the most challenging conditions. Here is a closer look at the pest that most people love to hate.

american cockroach

Lifecycle of a Cockroach

Common traits among the 4600 identified species of cockroaches include the various stages in the life cycle. The life of a cockroach begins as an egg, encased in the ootheca, which is a capsule.

It takes anywhere between 24 days to 215 days for the egg to become a full fledged cockroach, depending on the specie. The cockroaches undergo different stages of development known as instars enroute to maturity, and the number of instars depends on the specie.

Of the 4600 species, humans commonly get to see only a handful of varieties. It is important to understand that cockroaches that coexisted with dinosaurs continue to be existent today while the more feared predators are extinct.

The American Cockroach, which is one among the four varieties that are commonly identified as pests, has the longest life cycle of 700 days.  The variety with the shortest life cycle is the German Cockroach with an average lifecycle of 200 days.

life cycle of a cockroach

Effect of Habitat on Lifecycle

The omnivorous scavengers consume all organic food, and are known to eat matter that decays. The cockroaches live in all areas around the world and common habitats are the tropics and subtropics.

By virtue of being hardened species, despite the apparently delicate and small size, cockroaches live comfortably in sub zero temperatures.

Similarly, the roaches inhabit the hottest locations on earth making the specie one among the more commonly found insects in the world.

Habitats do not have an effect on the lifecycle of cockroaches, it is the specie in each habitat that has different life cycles.

Among the more interesting facts about this much hated insect is its ability to survive under extreme conditions. For instance, a cockroach with its head cut off can survive for a whole week – courtesy its unique breathing system that does not rely on the head.

A cockroach that is submerged underwater can stay put for as long as half an hour which explains the ability of the roach to stay alive in sewer lines.

Spread of Disease

The roach is notorious not just for the appearance, but more for the spread of disease attributed to it. The roaches are carriers of intestinal diseases including diarrhea, dysentery, typhoid and cholera.

The pests are known to relieve themselves of partially digested food at frequent intervals. Additionally, the secretion from the mouth and glands of the cockroach emit an odor that is nauseating.

This offensive smell is more of a marker for humans who quickly identify the presence of cockroaches.  The primary reasons for the spread of disease by cockroaches are its movements in sewers, drains and feces. The roaches move from these locations on to exposed food, contaminating the food with disease causing organisms.