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Cockroaches: Facts and Identification

Cockroaches are one of the frequently found domestic insects. They are also known as 'roaches'. Here are some facts and identification traits of these insects.
Ajanta Bhattacharyya
Some cockroaches, mostly the adult ones, make gliding flights. They have a shining appearance, two long front antennae, and spiny legs. Cockroaches are scientifically classified into the order known as blattaria, which comes from the Latin root word blatta, meaning cockroach.
They have flattened bodies, which allow them to enter buildings through cracks of loose-fitting doors, windows, and electric lines, or also through pipelines. They prefer to remain in the dark, moist areas of basements, floors etc.


  • Cockroaches prefer a warm atmosphere and are frequently found in the corners of buildings.
  • They can move on difficult terrains too.
  • They are mainly nocturnal in nature and run away when exposed to light.
  • They remain in dark places where many of their kin are around.
  • They are also found in hot or subtropical climates.
  • They make hissing and chirping sounds.
  • They have a high radiation resistance.
  • Some of them can survive without consuming food for a month.
  • They have long feelers in the front, and spiny legs.
  • They live on the food that human beings eat.


There are almost 4,000 species of cockroaches existing on the earth, and four of these species are known as pests. Among all of them, only 30 are found in human dwellings. Some of the popular ones are as follows.
  • The American cockroach, which is known as Periplaneta americana. These are about 30 millimeters (1.2 in) long.
  • The German cockroach, known as Blattella germanica.
  • The Asian cockroach or Blattella asahinai.
  • Apart from these, there are the oriental cockroach, tropical cockroach, and the Permian Apthoroblattina, which are large in size.


These insects are mainly omnivorous. They generally feed on the waste of human beings, garbage, starches, grease, plants, vegetables, fruits, clothes, leather, and also flakes of dried skin, starch in book binding, kitchen crumbs, beer, sweets, meat products etc.There are various protozoa and bacteria in their digestive system that help in digestion.

Daytime Activity

They are not active during the day. They are nocturnal in nature, and hence come out at night to have their food or prey. During the daytime, they hide in the sub floors, wall cavities, corners of doors, and cracks in various places.

Breeding and Lifespan

Their breeding depends on the eggs of the females and sperm of the males. Some species are oviparous and lay eggs. The eggs are stored in a sac called the ootheca, which is which is attached to the female's abdomen. Other species are viviparous, wherein the young ones develop inside the female like other mammals.
The life span of this insect varies according to the species. Some live for only a few months while some live for as long as two years. Cockroaches are neither deadly nor vicious insects. They are simply misunderstood due to the general opinion about them.