Cockroaches are disgusting. They’re aesthetically awful to look at and just about everyone hates them (the rare entomologist aside) no matter if they’re in your home or in the wild. They’re a creepy crawler in every sense of the term, their uncanny scuttle sending shivers up your spine.
For how atrocious cockroaches are, their species’ distinctive traits are equally fascinating. Their unique properties – some as unsettling as their appearance – doesn’t make them any more of a welcome sight. But, these cockroach facts might, almost, have you respect them enough to deter your boot from coming down if your paths cross one day.
Cockroaches can live headless for weeks.
Why not start with a cockroach’s creepiest feature? These pests survive for weeks even if they literally lose their head. Entomologists have beheaded roaches to study the phenomena, and the roaches, sans-head, still respond to stimuli even weeks after their noggin gets a floggin’.
How do they pull off this Halloween-like illusion? The head of a cockroach doesn’t play much of role in how the whole body actually functions. Thanks to their open circulatory systems, as long as any wound clots (including the loss of a head), they won’t bleed out. Add in their respiration system that has them breathing through little holes throughout their body segments, plus they can survive for weeks without food, and cockroaches are the Headless Horsemen of the insect kingdom. The only reason a headless roach dies is because it eventually succumbs to thirst and dehydration, otherwise it’d carry on with its now-purposeless life.
Cockroaches are always fast.
If you’ve unfortunately had a German cockroach infestation (the most common cockroach around these parts), you may have seen how nimble they are, if they notice you noticing them in the open. Your eyes weren’t deceiving you – cockroaches are incredibly fast.
When all six legs hit their stride, they can sprint an Olympic-like (for insects, of course) 80 centimeters a second. And that’s not just straight-away speed; cockroaches can change directions 25 times per second. That isn’t just for the adult roaches as well – a baby cockroach (about the size of a spec of dust) runs almost as fast as a full-grown pest.
What might be more impressive is the speed of their reaction time, making them appear even swifter. Cockroaches detect threats through their sense of changing air currents around them. It takes just 8.2 milliseconds for them to sense and react to anything, which is a part of the answer to why cockroaches are so annoying to get rid of.
No animal has such an attuned orientation behavior like the cockroach!
Cockroaches can hold their breath for a long time.
Another Olympic-like ability cockroaches possess, their ability to hold their breath for long periods would make David Blaine jealous.
In regular conditions, cockroaches can go without a breath for up to 40 minutes. Submerged underwater, they can last for around half an hour.
Cockroaches can hold their breath thanks again to their uncommon respiratory system. They close their ‘breathing holes’ in order to retain water since water vapor excretes from the holes, so they’re used to living without oxygen for extended periods.
If cockroaches can somehow unlock the secret to race bicycles competitively, they’ve got the tools to become serious triathletes.
Cockroaches grow up as fast as they run.
Different types of cockroaches mature at different rates. For the most part however, cockroaches generally take about a year to become an adult.
That’s very fast, but is still too long for the German cockroach, apparently. Newborn German cockroaches grow into adults in just over a month, roughly 36 days in all. This is why this type of cockroach is extremely common in Canada with ever-growing populations.
It’s True: Cockroaches Can Survive Nuclear Blasts.
No head? No problem, cockroaches can survive that. Take away their oxygen? Easy.
Okay, surely a nuclear blast can get rid of them?
Think again. More than one study confirms cockroaches have an insane tolerance to high radiation levels, far beyond what we can deal with. Cockroaches were found in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, areas in Japan where the atomic bomb dropped. While a cockroach’s tolerance is well noted, scientists aren’t sure how they can shrug off atomic radiation, though their slower cell cycles may have something to do with it. Cockroaches are only one of two organisms that can withstand nuclear blasts, the other being scorpions.
And if that doesn’t convince you: Wall-E’s only friend on a post-nuclear Earth was indeed a cockroach.
Cockroaches Can Be Conditioned the Same Way Pavlov’s Dogs Were.
Remember Ivan Pavlov’s concept of classical conditioning, explained through his famous salivating dogs experiments? As a quick refresher, the Russian physiologist conditioned his dogs by having a metronome ticking every time they were fed. Eventually, the dogs became conditioned to the metronome tick, and would drool at the sound with or without food present.
Cockroaches can live without their heads, but it does play a role in their memory and Pavlovian reflexes – in other words, cockroaches have the capacity to learn and be conditioned. Memory and learning are traits linked to intelligence, too; Pavlovian ability has only been documented in humans, apes, dogs, and other mammals, meaning roaches are smarter than your average pest.
Sure, it’s compelling that you could conceivably train a cockroach as a pet…but why would you want to?
Not only are a cockroach’s natural traits extremely rare and remarkable, they have the commonality that these attributes make cockroaches resilient pests. With their ability to live without heads, hold their breath, and tremendous reaction times and speed, it’s clear why getting rid of a cockroach infestation from a home is a tall task.
If you’re in need of a cockroach exterminator, or have any questions about pest removal, please contact us at (416) 665-7378, or contact us for a free consultation.