Myths About Cockroaches Debunked
By Chris Williams on October 23, 2012.
Here is a list of common myths that I encounter a lot about one of the most infamous pests, cockroaches. After each common myth I will also say what the reality is behind the myth.
Myth #1): Albino cockroaches are sterile and can’t reproduce.
Actually, there are no albino cockroaches. Those white, or almost white, cockroaches that you occasionally see are not albinos but are roach nymphs that have recently molted or shed their skin. It takes a few hours for their new cuticle to harden up and turn dark.
Myth #2): All cockroaches can fly.
All adult cockroaches have wings of some type, but most of our pest cockroaches do not fly. In some cockroaches, like the oriental cockroach, the female has reduced or vestigial wing buds. Fortunately, our most common pest cockroach—the German cockroach—does not fly. Of our other pest cockroaches, only the male brownbanded, American, and wood cockroaches can fly. Cockroach nymphs are wingless and cannot fly.
Myth #3): A German cockroach can live for months without its head.
A headless cockroach can’t live for months but it can live for up to a week, with a little help. Its head isn’t particularly necessary for existence because many of its functions, including breathing, are centrally located in the body. If you want to keep your headless cockroach alive longer, researchers say you should tie the head off with a tourniquet before you sever it, and then keep the roach at a low temperature. Read more about german cockroaches here.
Myth #4): Cockroaches have to eat constantly.
It may seem that they are always on the move looking for food (or even your food), but cockroaches can actually live for about a month without eating. Like people, though, water is the more crucial need. German cockroaches can only live a week without water or moisture of some kind. There are desert cockroaches, however, that are adapted to live for long periods without water.
Myth #5): Despite their habits, cockroaches are really “clean.”
Don’t you believe it! Filthy is as filthy does. Consider that cockroaches live (and feed) comfortably in sewers and similar sites. They pick up various bacteria and viruses on their legs and antennae and (like house flies) transfer them to food, dishes, and other items that they walk across. They also eat contaminated food or feces and transfer disease organisms in their droppings or when they regurgitate onto surfaces.
Myth #6): Human hair and fingernails are a favorite food of cockroaches.
It may be true that cockroaches would gnaw on sailors’ fingernails at night aboard ancient sailing ships but it’s a rare occurrence today, requiring a very large, starving cockroach population. Hair and nails may have some limited nutritional value for a cockroach (especially if the hair is oily and the nails dirty!), but they don’t begin to compete with the other food goodies found in a home. You can rest peacefully. Just make sure to watch out for your ears, because cockroaches love ear canals.