You may feel the only thing you need to know about cockroaches is how to dial the exterminator when you see one. Signs that the nasty critters have invaded your home include droppings left behind in dark areas, a musty odor, and the creatures themselves racing across your floor. These resilient pests trigger allergies and spread bacteria. Keeping your home clean and sealing any cracks through which they might enter are useful preventative measures. Here are some additional facts you might not know about cockroaches—and perhaps more than you ever hoped to know!

6. Bigger Might Be Better

Big Cockroach

A big cockroach may seem like a bigger problem than a little cockroach. However, finding a cockroach longer than one inch in size inside your house may be better news than finding a small one. According to Terminix, the German cockroach is the most commonly found cockroach in American homes. This cockroach is 0.6 inches in size and light brown. If you come across one of these little guys, chances are he has a whole lot of family living in your home with him, while a larger cockroach might be one that just happened to wander in from outdoors. Even so, you should still give a pest control company a call if you notice one, big or small.

5. They Can Live a Month Without Food

Cockroaches Survive

While cockroaches can’t survive more than a week without water, they can go for a month without food. The bad news is that you won’t be able to starve them out of your home. There isn’t too much a cockroach won’t eat. Outdoors, they will eat both plants and decaying animals. Indoors, if given a choice, they will go for sweets, starchy foods, greasy foods, and proteins. In a pinch, they think nothing of ingesting dead animals, sewage, and paper—pretty much anything they can get a hold of.

4. They Will Eat Each Other

Cockroaches Eat

Cockroaches can survive a month without food, but if there are enough of them around, they won’t have to. Cockroaches are cannibalistic creatures that will eat each other. When cockroach populations get too large, that’s exactly what they do. This ensures they have something to eat and helps them with population control as well.

3. They Can Live Without a Head

Cockroach Head

Chop off a cockroach’s head and he can keep on living for a week. Cockroaches breathe through tiny holes in their bodies called spiracles, not through their mouths. Their breathing doesn’t rely on brain function, and neither does their circulatory system. The headless creature will continue to carry on until it dies of thirst or infection.

Related: 7 Things to Know About Flies and Food

2. They Can Hold Their Breath for 40 Minutes

Cockroach Breathe

The amazing cockroach can hold its breath for as long as 40 minutes and can swim underwater for 30 minutes. The cockroach has no lungs but transfers oxygen through spiracles in its body to the cells via the trachea, or tubes. Like other insects, cockroaches hold their breath at rest in order to conserve water.

1. Most Can’t Fly

Cockroaches Can't Fly

While many species of cockroaches have wings, most of them cannot fly. Some species, including American cockroaches, can fly very short distances. Other species glide from higher areas to lower ones. The cockroach’s relatively large body and small wing mass don’t make for easy flight. Instead, their fast and powerful legs carry them where they need to go. The American cockroach can move up to 59 inches per second. At speeds like that, they don’t need to fly!

Related: Hotels and Beg Bugs: How to Stay Pest-Free


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