Over 20 Cockroach Answers You Should Know

Different Cockroach species

In this post, I will cover numerous questions pertaining to the humble cockroach. While almost universally hated throughout the world you can not deny these pesky insects are fascinating in their in own right.

Do Cockroaches Have Brains?

Yes, cockroaches do have brains – but these are very basic and simple in comparison to human brains.

They only have about 20,000 brain cells (compared to the 100 billion humans have), and they do not have any pain receptors.

The cockroach’s brain is in its head, and it has a pair of ganglia in the thorax near the nerve cord that helps it process some of its information.

Do Cockroaches Have Nerves?

Yes, they have nerve cells – cockroaches do not have very much of them though, so when compared to humans they don’t really feel pain as much as we do.

Cockroaches have two major ganglia, also called nerve cords. One is located in their head and the other is located near the tail end of their body.

These help them control movement, but they don’t really give them any sensory information – it’s more like they are “connected” to different parts of the roach’s body and this helps them control movement.

Do Cockroaches Have Feelings?

It is not clear whether or not cockroaches can feel pain. According to their behavior, you could assume they do, but it is difficult to tell for sure due to a lack of research.

Do Cockroaches Have Hearts?

They do not have hearts, but they do have a very long dorsal vessel that carries hemolymph throughout their body. This is more like a system of arteries and veins than anything else though – there is no one part that can be said to be functioning as a heart.

Do Cockroaches Have Eyes?

Their compound eyes are made up of hundreds of lenses (called ommatidia), each one with a specific task. They can see fine details this way.

A downside is that they also see everything from many different perspectives, which makes it difficult for them to recognize what they’re actually looking at.

Do Cockroaches See?

Cockroaches do not have eyelids and can’t blink. This is one reason why they die on contact with insecticides: the chemical gets into their eyes and kills them.

They also can’t see colors, but the spectrum of light that they perceive (which has more blue than red) makes it easy for them to distinguish between dark and light.

Can Roaches See in the Dark?

They can see much better in the dark than we can. Their eyes are multi-faceted, and each individual lens has around 150 lenses to help them detect as much light as possible.

They also have a large number of genes devoted to helping them see in the dark.

Do Cockroaches Smell?

They do not have noses as we do, but they still manage to smell and communicate with each other through the use of pheromones (chemicals that are used for communication).

Additionally, roaches can actually smell in stereo. Each antenna on their body has around 50 smaller antennas which help them detect different smells.

Do Cockroaches Have Mouths?

Yes, they do. They are located on the underside of their body and they open up in a straight line from where their head is to the end of the abdomen.

This might make it seem like they are taking food in through that opening, but this is not exactly correct. The mouth of the cockroach is called a “proboscis”, and it does not always stay in that straight line.

When they eat, the first thing that goes into their mouth is saliva which breaks down food even further. They are very picky about what they will eat though – for example, if there are two similar types of food on the floor (same type of leaf, for example), they will choose the fresher one over the older one.

Do Cockroaches Have Tongues?

No, they do not. However, they do produce a liquid that is similar to saliva and it moistens the mouthparts that are called palps. These palps help them eat food by breaking it down further with enzymes.

Do Cockroaches Have Ears?

Their ears are tiny holes on the side of their bodies. The way they hear is similar to the way moths do, although cockroaches have far more hearing organs than moths do.

Cockroaches have groups of cells for hearing called chordotonal organs and they’re located in the joints between their body parts.

They can sense vibrations in the air, the ground and even on their own bodies. For example, they can actually hear their footsteps.

Do Cockroaches Have Hair?

They don’t have any hair on their bodies. They are almost completely smooth. They do however produce a waxy compound that coats the body and makes them feel smooth/silky. It also helps them to keep moisture in their body (in the same way sweat does for us).

However, some types of roaches do have hairs/bristles around/behind their head and on the lower part of their abdomen. These bristles are sensory organs.

Do Cockroaches Have Lungs?

They do not actually breathe but absorb oxygen through spiracles in their body walls. They also use this breathing method to scent pheromones and release carbon dioxide (similar to us humans). This is why you will rarely see them panting as dogs do – they simply don’t need to.

Are Cockroaches Omnivores?

They are not picky eaters, they will eat pretty much anything that smells good to them.

Their favorite foods are sugars and starches (e.g fruits, bread).

They can also feed on plant leaves, glue, hair/fur/feathers/skin particles, etc. They will not eat wood, and some roaches can’t feed on leaves and such because they have been genetically modified to be unable to digest cellulose.

Cellulose is a carbohydrate found in plant cell walls. Humans have enzymes that break down these carbohydrates so we can get energy from them, but cockroaches do not.

Do Cockroaches Carry Diseases?

They do not actually carry any diseases- they spread them.

Some of the most common infections that can be transmitted by roaches are E.coli (short for Escherichia coli), salmonella, shigella and streptococcus (the last two cause strep throat).

They carry these viruses on their legs and bodies, and also in their intestines.

If you touch a cockroach, it’s possible for its droppings to get under your fingernails. If you eat soon after that, the bacteria from those droppings can end up inside your body as well. It is not very common for people to catch these infections from roaches, though.

One thing that’s good to remember is that roaches do clean themselves like cats do (they lick their legs and such) – this means the droppings on their legs will not be there for long.

Do Cockroaches Sleep?

Cockroaches do sleep, but they don’t have eyelids so they can’t really close their eyes. They will only rest when they are in a dark place where they feel safe, and even then it might be just for a few minutes or hours.

When the roach is resting, its body goes into “stop” mode which means all of its muscles will relax (this doesn’t mean that they are unconscious though).

Do Cockroaches Have Blood?

Yes, they do have blood – it is called hemolymph and it’s actually closer to the blood of an insect than it is to our blood (the color varies depending on what type of food they eat).

When a roach loses a leg, it can bleed because the hemolymph will ooze out. Sometimes they will “bleed” to death this way simply because their immune system isn’t strong enough, and other times it might be caused by a bacterium that enters the wound and releases toxins.

Do Cockroaches Have Bones?

They do not have a skeleton – instead, their bodies are made up of a hard protective shell called an exoskeleton. This surface can be hard or soft depending on what kind of species it is – the harder species will have a shield-like shell, while the softer ones will have a smoother one.

They do not actually need to have bones because their exoskeleton can support itself and their muscles are enough to keep their bodies from collapsing in on themselves.

Do Cockroaches Shed?

Yes, they do shed their skin when they grow too big for it. They will eat their shed skin after doing this though – because the new skin underneath is soft and moist, allowing them to move around much easier than before.

When they are molting, they will be very vulnerable to other predators because they cannot move while their new exoskeleton forms.

Can Roaches Survive a Fire?

Yes, they can. This is because their bodies are covered in a wax-like substance that protects them from extreme temperatures (this wax also helps them retain moisture).

This doesn’t mean that they will not suffer great physical harm if exposed to very high temperatures for too long though – their exoskeletons might begin to melt and this will cause them to melt as well. They can also die if they are burned and not allowed to cool down before too long.

Do Cockroaches Like the Cold?

They can tolerate pretty low temperatures, but they prefer warmer weather. If you’re thinking about keeping them as pets, it is best if you choose one of the species that live in tropical conditions (humidity and high temperature) because keeping them in warm conditions will be much easier than keeping them in cold ones.

Do Cockroaches Have Genders?

Yes, they are either male or female. The male has a “phallus” which can be compared to the shape of a saber tooth tiger’s fang. It is an organ that will transfer sperm from the male to the female during mating.

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