Learn About The Lifespan Of A Cockroach

August 18, 2021

People deal with household pests every year, with cockroaches being the most common. The first step towards controlling and eliminating cockroach infestation is knowing more about cockroach lifespan. Understanding cockroaches can help you deal with them promptly and entirely.

Where Did Cockroaches Come From?

It is estimated that cockroaches were among the first insects on earth. Fossil studies have revealed that roaches originated in North America almost 350 million years ago before they acquainted themselves with Eurasia and later on moved to other regions worldwide, having to adapt to colder climates. Cockroaches have evolved together with humans and are more predominant in tropical areas but can live anywhere humans are. They have survived for millions of years due to their ability to reproduce rapidly and withstand long periods of hardship.

How Fast Is A Cockroach?

Cockroaches are the fastest insects on earth and can dart quicker than an eyeblink. At full speed, roaches can cover fifty body lengths in a second. For larger animals, that can be equated to a speed of 200 miles per hour. The reason why cockroaches run fast is their legs. They have six legs, each with three knees. Thus, they have eighteen knees altogether. Therefore, their movement is precise thanks to the many joints, with little wasted movements that can slow them down. The legs also feature tiny hairs that are sensitive to even the smallest of movements, enabling cockroaches to react fast and can even detect when you enter the room they are occupying.

The Lifecycle Of Cockroaches

Understanding the lifecycle of a cockroach goes a long way toward helping get rid of these pests entirely. All species of roaches undergo three life stages – egg, nymph, and adult.

Cockroach Eggs Nymphs And Adults

Egg Stage

A female roach can lay from ten to fifty eggs at one go. Cockroaches make nests and lay their eggs in moist, warm, dark, tight spaces. They ensure that the eggs are highly protected and in a conducive environment. Typically, it takes one to two months for the eggs to hatch. However, depending on the species, the eggs can hatch slower or faster than that. With their high level of reproduction, roaches can be challenging to control. Therefore, early discovery of a cockroach infestation is essential in controlling its spread.

Nymph Stage (Baby Cockroach)

Once the eggs hatch, the nymph stage begins, whereby a roach undergoes several moults. Moulting cockroaches shed their exoskeletons to develop and grow bigger. Initially, nymphs are white before darkening to the standard brown pigment as they mature. Depending on the species, a female roach may take care of its babies. The nymph stage lasts a couple of months up to one year.

Adult Stage (Developed Cockroach)

After the final moult, a cockroach becomes a sexually active and fully functional adult. The females begin attracting their male counterparts to start reproduction. An adult roach measures one and a half to three inches long, is mostly brown, and has three pairs of legs, two pairs of wings, and one pair of long antennae. While many species have wings, a majority do not fly, instead crawling from place to place.

How Long Can A Cockroach Live?

A cockroach can live for one to two years. However, some species can live for up to a decade. Their high reproduction rate, large population, hard exoskeleton, and extraordinary survival instincts enable them to live for many years.

A Day In The Life Of An Adult Roach

Roaches are nocturnal, meaning they are most active in the dark. Adult roaches usually engage in three primary activities throughout their lifespan.


Cockroaches spend most of their time hiding. Even adult roaches with their bigger bodies can squeeze into tiny holes and cracks. Their hiding nature makes it challenging to know the extent of the infestation. But if you spot a roach or two in the open, a heavy cockroach infestation could be likely.


If a roach is not in hiding, it is out there looking for food. Though cockroaches require little food for survival, they seek it daily. They eat anything they can find, including paper, fingernails, book bindings, and hair.


Cockroaches are great breeders. A single female can lay eight or more eggs cases in its lifetime, bringing up three hundred to four hundred offspring.

What Does Cockroach Activity Mean?

Active cockroaches are trouble. Their movement in sewers and dumpsites leaves pathogens on their bodies. When they invade your home, they deposit all that messy stuff in drawers, shelves, and even food. The other problem is with their droppings which contain dangerous bacteria and egg casings that can cause asthma attacks and allergic reactions.

How Long Can A Roach Live Without Food And Water?

A cockroach can live for up to one month without eating. However, roaches are susceptible to dehydration and cannot survive with no water for more than a week. Even three days of thirst can make them very weak. When hungry and dehydrated, they start to shed weight and eventually die. Another surprising thing to know is that cockroaches can live without their head for several days and even weeks.

How To Know If A Cockroach Is Hungry Or Thirsty

One of the ways to eliminate cockroaches in your home is to deprive them of water and food. And here are the signs you have succeeded:

  • Reduced Activity: With little to no water and food available, roaches become weak and lethargic. They stop scurrying around, and their numbers begin dropping. Within a few weeks, you will not spot any cockroaches roaming around.
  • Dead Roaches: Some cockroaches will drop dead around the house. A large number will die in their nesting places out of sight and reach.

If your efforts are in vain and cockroaches continue infesting your home, it is high time for professional roach control.

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