Do you know how long have roaches been around?
Older than humans!
Yes, you have read it right.
Cockroaches are believed to exist longer than humans on the planet and even predate the rise of the dinosaurs.
Even if it is hard to imagine, these tiny and ancient insects have passed the evolution of countless species, geologic ages, and the rise and fall of entire civilizations.
It is estimated that cockroaches worldwide have been around for over 320 million years. That’s 320 million with M!
If that is not enough to bring curiosity in you to know more about them, here’s a fun fact: cockroaches can live without heads for several weeks and stay without food for up to 30 days!
So, now, sit tight and be prepared to be amazed as we dive deep into how long cockroaches have been around and other surprising facts that these tiny insects have!
How Long Have Roaches Been Around?
Cockroaches are one of the dirtiest insects around the world. They can eat anything, live without food for several days, and are clever enough to fake their death as well to escape from the danger.
No doubt, these insects have been in the world for so long.
Therefore, the fossils of these hardy creatures have been found dating back to the Carboniferous period. This means these cockroaches belong to 320 million years ago time.
Since then, these tiny insects have made home to almost every corner of the world. They have colonized every type of habitat and adapted themselves even to the harshest climate conditions.
With consistent evolution and changes in their body plan, cockroaches have become more resilient insects worldwide.
Even though one cockroach species is believed to be extinct, hobbyist collectors pet this species; therefore, they are not considered entirely extinct.
However, cockroaches are the agents that carry bacteria, trigger allergies, and even spread germs and various diseases if they infest the home. We’ll even get into those details as well.
But let’s start from very scratch.
History Of Cockroaches
As you know, cockroaches came around 320 million years ago and are among the most ancient bugs.
But let’s try to understand the timeline of natural history to understand how these cockroaches lived for so long.
Simply put, the scale is divided into three eons. However, these are further divided into eras, periods, and epochs.
No life existed during the Hadean eon, first in the geologic time scale.
However, it was not until the Archean eon that soft-bodied creatures like worms and jellyfish began to appear in the oceans. But the land remained barren.
After the Archean eon, the Proterozoic eon followed the time scale. Only during this time were the first oxygen-dependent animals formed, also known as Ediacara fauna.
It is the Phanerozoic eon, which is mainly related to the cockroach history. Also, the Phanerozoic eon is the current geologic eon when abundant animal and plant life existed on the Earth.
Now, this eon is further divided into the three eras:
Further, this era is divided into periods and epochs.
Cockroaches appeared first during the Paleozoic era of the Phanerozoic eon. This era was long before the Mesozoic era when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.
That means it was even longer before the Cenozoic era, during which humans appeared.
That ultimately leads to a question: how long have cockroaches been around?
Therefore, it might be challenging to say with accuracy, but estimation suggests that these tiny insects have been around the world for at least 320 million years.
It is why they are supposed to have come even longer before humans, dinosaurs, or even most mammals.
For a glance, here is the timeline for the living organisms on this planet:
- Cockroaches – 320 million years ago
- Dinosaurs – 252 to 201 million years ago
- Humans – Around 2 million years ago
So, this is the brief history of cockroaches from millions of years ago. Today, around the world, approximately 4000 species of these tiny insects are found.
However, only 30-40 cockroach species are known for infesting homes.
Where Do Cockroaches Originate From?
It is believed that cockroaches have originated from the tropical regions of Africa, specifically from the region around the equator.
And from there only, these cockroaches have spread to other parts of the world, including Asia, Europe, and America.
Therefore, one can say that some cockroach species are indeed to be found in almost every part of the world.
Also, one of the reasons these tiny insects can spread so quickly across the world is because these insects have been very flexible in adaptation.
As said earlier, cockroaches have evolved to survive in various environments, such as tropical rainforests and arid deserts (of course, except in the extreme polar regions).
On top of that, the biological build of cockroaches has made them digest anything they eat. That is why cockroaches can even eat other dead cockroaches for survival without food.
However, primarily, cockroaches feed upon food crumbs, leftovers in the bin, tree leaves, organic matter, and even decaying plant matter.
How Do Roaches Survive Different Weather Conditions?
One of the primary plus points about cockroaches is their adaptability skills (we’ll discuss their survival skills in detail further).
Cockroaches are aware of how to adjust to different environmental conditions. Instead, these tiny insects have excellent skills for thriving even in the harshest climate conditions.
The cockroaches are cold-blooded organisms, so they cannot regulate their internal temperatures.
Therefore, it becomes pretty challenging for cockroaches to survive when the weather turns out to be too cold.
But whenever the climate changes, cockroaches quickly turn to find the right temperature conditions for themselves with an adequate water source.
Why Cockroaches Are Known for Their Survival Skills?
There are numerous reasons why cockroaches are so resilient. However, let’s break down each of them to know why they have been here so long.
For surviving, adapting to different natural conditions is one of the essential factors that cockroaches have brilliantly.
It is why cockroaches have been inhabitants for hundreds of millions of years.
Even today, cockroaches have also been brilliant in surviving extreme hot or cold temperatures.
One of the crucial factors for roaches being so resilient is their diet.
As these nasty insects can eat anything and feed upon any food item they get, they can survive easily.
Even if cockroaches cannot get food for some days, they can live for several days without food.
Additionally, they can eat anything, such as cheese, beer, leather, glue, hair, starch, and decaying organic matter (plant or animal).
For surviving, reproducing is one of the essential aspects of any living being. And cockroaches are experts in that!
These tiny insects reproduce way faster.
Cockroaches produce their eggs in capsules in one of the safest places.
The ootheca – the cockroaches’ egg capsule may contain around 40 eggs.
And you might be surprised to know that one cockroach can reproduce up to 300 offspring in one year. However, it also depends on the species of cockroaches.
On top of that, one of the cockroach species (German cockroach) can grow from nymph to adult in as little as 36 days.
Therefore, in such a short time, these cockroaches can reproduce faster and even turn into adult roaches to carry on their population.
It is why, due to the quick reproduction capability of cockroaches, these tiny insects infest homes way faster.
The small size of cockroaches makes them easy to fit in the tiniest holes and cracks or squeeze through these to create a large population behind a wall.
It is why you can easily find cockroaches under refrigerators, stoves, bathrooms, kitchens, etc.
On average, the size of a cockroach is around 5 to 10 mm in length. In contrast to their smaller size, cockroaches are one of the fastest insects.
With their natural body structure, 18 knees, and flexible legs with tiny hairs (for movement sensing), these cockroaches can scurry away whenever required.
Above all, cockroaches are able even to fake their death when required. They do it to get away from predators or when they sense danger to their lives.
Read more about upside-down cockroaches here.
Cockroaches are nocturnal insects. That means they are primarily active in the night.
In the nighttime, these tiny insects search for food and water. And during the daytime, they stay hidden in their space.
Therefore, their capability to avoid the dangers of the daytime and hunt for food only at night has made cockroaches survive for many years.
Cockroaches are one of the most resilient insects, and they prefer living around areas such as moisture and water, while some prefer dry areas as well.
On top of that, these insects can live for many days without water, while without food, they can live for several weeks.
Problems With Cockroaches
As these cockroaches are everywhere, it is pretty challenging to escape them.
Moreover, they create several problems for you if they infest your home.
One of the significant problems that cockroaches cause are:
One of the primary concerns for having cockroaches in your home is the health problem.
Cockroaches can quickly infest homes around your kitchen, bathroom, and other places, contaminating food items.
And many studies show that these nasty insects carry several diseases and can even trigger allergies.
Moreover, if cockroaches infest the appliances in your home, such as the microwave oven, washing machine, or even dishwashers, they can even damage them.
But first of all, many health concerns come with having cockroaches in your home; therefore, you should get rid of these tiny insects immediately.
As said earlier, cockroaches are known for damaging various household items. They produce secretions that can stain surfaces and even have bad odors.
Moreover, cockroaches can eat anything and even feed on wood. Therefore, they can damage your furniture in the house, such as tables, couches, and other wooden stuff.
If cockroaches get into your cupboard they can even damage or stain your clothes as well.
Cockroach infestation is a problem. And cockroach infestation in the kitchen is even worse.
These tiny insects carry several diseases and bacteria with them. Walking on food, utensils, dishes, counters, or food-contact surfaces, they transfer those bacteria on the food and the surfaces.
When you come in contact with these bacteria, they cause various health issues, including triggering allergies and multiple health problems.
Many people may face allergic reactions due to cockroach feces and cast skins of cockroaches.
These reactions may range from skin rashes, watery eyes, sneezing, and nasal congestion to asthma.
All of these cockroach problems occur from common cockroach species.
The most common cockroach species that are found in the households are:
- German Cockroaches
- American Cockroaches
- Oriental Cockroaches
- Brown-banded Cockroaches
Therefore, it is a must for anyone to keep control of cockroaches and get rid of infestation quickly.
Why Roaches Are A Problem For Our Health?
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, the cockroach’s saliva, feces, and shedding body parts can trigger asthma and allergies.
Moreover, the National Pest Management Association reports that 63% of homes in the United States contain cockroach allergens.
Additionally, these tiny insects carry various diseases and bacteria that they can leave on food and food-contact surfaces, which can make you sick.
That means cockroaches are very problematic if they are inside your house.
Now let’s look at the possible factors for why they are a health problem:
Cockroaches Are Nasty
This is obvious, but you must understand that these tiny insects can eat anything.
Whether it’s decaying plant matter, rotten organic matter, or even other dead cockroaches (without food for a long time), cockroaches can feed upon anything!
And when they roam around after visiting these dirty places, they also carry various bacteria and diseases.
And then they leave those bacteria on your food items and other places, which becomes the reason for various illnesses.
Therefore, cockroaches become a problem for your health if they infest your home.
Cockroaches Produce Various Things
Apart from carrying various other diseases from several nasty places, cockroaches produce feces, lay eggs, and shed their skin, which is also one of the concerns.
It is why cockroach infestation is bad; one must get rid of them ASAP!
You can read our detailed guide on eliminating roaches from your home.
Which Country Has No Cockroaches?
You already know that cockroaches have been in the world for more than 320 million years, and since then, they have evolved, and now 4000+ species are available worldwide.
Cockroaches have traveled through trades from sea and land, becoming a popular and common issue for almost every household worldwide.
But you might be surprised to know that these cockroaches may be found in almost every continent except one continent.
And that is Antarctica!
Cockroaches do not feel comfortable in extreme temperatures; therefore, they always try to shift to the areas where they feel comfortable.
But, due to freezing temperatures in Antarctica, cockroaches are not likely to survive such an extreme temperature.
Even some crew workers at various scientific research facilities have accidentally brought other cockroaches in, such as German ones. Still, they couldn’t survive outside the controlled environment of the research facility.
10 Fascinating Cockroach Facts
We have talked enough about the cockroaches. Now, let’s shift your mood to the lighter side.
Let’s explore some fascinating cockroach facts that make you even more curious about these insects.
1. Newly Born German Cockroaches Become Adults in as Little as 36 Days
Yes, you read it right. In such a short time, the baby German cockroach turns into an adult roach.
Moreover, this one of the common cockroaches has been the reason for various illnesses and other allergic reaction in many people.
Therefore, if you find German cockroaches in your home, find a way to eliminate them.
2. The American Cockroach Has Shown Interest In Alcohol
So, apart from humans, the American cockroach has also shown interest in alcoholic beverages, especially beer.
Similar to the other roach species, these are also attracted by the hops and sugar in the beverage.
3. World’s Largest Roach
You might be wondering what the world’s largest cockroach is. The world’s largest cockroach size is six inches long and has a one-foot wingspan. And for context, an average cockroach varies in size from ½” to 2″ long.
4. There Are 4000+ Cockroach Species Worldwide.
Including the commonly found cockroaches in the U.S., such as American, German, Brown-banded, and Oriental, there are 4000+ cockroach species worldwide.
5. Cockroaches Can Easily Live Without Food For One Month
Even though cockroaches can eat anything, they can easily survive if they do not get food for several days.
Cockroaches are cold-blooded insects that can thrive for up to 30 days without food. However, these tiny insects can survive only for a week without water.
Therefore, water is more necessary for cockroaches to survive, so these insects mostly shelter themselves around moist areas.
6. Cockroaches Are Way Old
However, there is no accurate calculation, but it is estimated that cockroaches originated more than 320 million years ago, way before the time of humans and even dinosaurs.
7. A One-Day-Old Baby Roach Can Run Almost As Fast As Its Parents
The American cockroach is one of the fastest species, and the one-day-old baby roach can run as fast as its parents.
For reference, the baby cockroach is the size of a speck of dust. On top of that, these pesky insects are not only known for fast running, but they are also elusive.
8. Cockroach Can Hold Its Breath For 30-40 Minutes
Cockroaches are brilliant at holding their breath for up to 30 minutes in the water and up to 40 minutes on the land.
That is why it is tough to drown cockroaches, as their biological structure also helps them to survive in such conditions.
9. Cockroaches Can Run Up To Three Miles An Hour
Despite the small size, most cockroaches’ legs have flexibility and multiple joints that help them quickly scurry away.
An experiment found that the American cockroach can run up to 3 miles an hour, which is quite impressive.
10. A Cockroach Can Live Without Its Head For Week
Cockroaches have an open circulatory system and do not breathe with their mouth or nose, just like humans.
Therefore, even if the head is detached from the cockroach’s body, they still can survive for several days as cockroaches breathe from their spiracles.
In such conditions, they will not die due to lack of air or oxygen; instead, they will die because of not getting water. Therefore, after detaching the head, a cockroach can only die due to thirst.
FAQs About Cockroaches And Their Timeline
There is no precise date for cockroaches’ first appearance. However, it is estimated that cockroaches first appeared about 320 million years ago, which is even before the time of humans existed or even dinosaurs existed.
No, cockroaches are not as old as dinosaurs. Instead, they are even older than them.
According to estimation, cockroaches came into life around 320 million years ago, even before dinosaurs or humans.
It cannot be claimed that cockroaches are the oldest thing on Earth, but they originated millions of years ago.
The time from where cockroaches have originated is way back than humans and even the dinosaurs.
Many believe that cockroaches originated in the great primordial land of Pangaea over 300 million years ago. That fossil evidence shows the same timeline as well.
Verdict: How Long Have Roaches Been Around?
Finally, you know that modern roaches are way older than the dinosaurs. They originated from 320 million years ago when even humans did not exist.
Since the origination of cockroaches, these tiny insects have evolved continuously and developed resilience excellently along with other insects.
Cockroaches nowadays are also becoming resilient towards chemical-based sprays.
However, having cockroaches in your home is not good. If you are facing cockroach infestations, you should seek natural methods to eliminate cockroaches or a professional exterminator to help in severe infestations as cockroach control in the home is a must.