The cockroach belongs to the order Blattodea. They are part of some of the 4.600 insects that are among the most primitive living winged insects, which today look similar to how they do in fossils more than 320 million years old.

The English name "cockroach" comes from the Spanish word cockroach.

Cockroach seen from above


There are about 4.000 different species of cockroaches, but only about 30 species have direct contact with humans. They are generally not interested in humans, they are only present if there is enough food.

Some species of are considered as pests.


The cockroach has a flattened oval body, long antennae, and a shiny coat of black or brown leather. The head is bent downward, and the parts of the mouth point backward rather than forward or downward as is the case in most other insects.

Males usually have two pairs of wings, while the female, in some species, is wingless or has vestigial wings. The abdomen of females is much more rounded than that of males.

We are used to the fact that most animals have their brains in their heads, but the cockroach is the exception. His brain is in his body, therefore, he can live without a head for almost two weeks where he will die from malnutrition and not from damage to the nervous system.


The cockroach is a social insect. Most species are gregarious and a slightly smaller number exhibit parental care.

Before it was thought that they were grouped based on certain environmental signals, but now it is thought that pheromones are more involved. These pheromones allow them to distinguish other cockroach populations by smell.

Certain species secrete feces with the participation of intestinal microbial symbionts, while others use glands located in their jaws.

Not all behaviors have been studied, but German cockroaches are known to leave fecal tracks with an odor gradient. Other cockroaches take advantage of these tracks to find food, water or shelter.

Thus, cockroaches exhibit emergent behavior, in which group or swarm behavior emerges from a simple set of individual interactions.


The cockroach inhabits any ecosystem with the exception of water. Although they prefer warm, humid, and dark environments and are usually found in tropical and other mild climates.


The cockroach is distributed throughout the world.


The cockroach is a omnivorous animal that feeds on decomposing matter, and therefore, is often associated with dirt and emits unpleasant odors.

The diet can be composed of: food, paper, clothing and books to dead insects, especially bed bugs.


The cockroach has numerous predators due to its small size and abundance. Predators include birds, spiders, small mammals, and reptiles. In some human cultures it is consumed.


The cockroach can have up to four litters of young each year. The eggs are found within a mass called the ootheca. The ootheca contain between 10 - 90 eggs and can be seen emerging from the female's body or stuck in protected areas.

Then the young hatch in a matter of days, and are white. They take only a month to fully develop. As the exoskeleton hardens, they turn brown.

State of conservation

Despite the fact that cockroaches are rejected by humans, some species are cause for concern.

Lord Howe Island cockroach (Panesthia lata) is on the New South Wales Scientific Committee's Endangered Cockroach List, but the cockroach may be extinct on Lord Howe Island itself. The introduction of rats, the spread of Rhodes grass (Chloris gayana) and fires are possible reasons for its shortage.

Two species are currently listed as endangered and critically endangered by the IUCN Red List, Delosia ornata and Nocticola gerlachi. Both cockroaches have a restricted distribution and are threatened by loss of habitat and rising sea levels.

Relationship with humans

The cockroach for humans is an insect known to form pests, but they play a vital role by ingesting decomposing materials.

By feeding on decomposing organic matter, they are associated with dirt, therefore, most humans have phobias or disgust them. It is common for each pantry in a human home to find insecticides to expel or kill them.

Their structure and large size (some species have a wing span of more than 12 cm) have made them objects of interest in biological laboratories.

Some species of cockroaches, such as dubia cockroach (Business problems), are bred as food for insectivorous pets. Certain species are raised as pets, most commonly the Madagascar giant cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa).

Popular culture

Cockroaches, although considered repellants, were useful as medicines in classical times. The Greek insect called "σίλφη" (silphe) has been identified with the cockroach. He was mentioned by Aristotle, saying that he loses his skin. It is described as smelly in the game Peace of Aristophanes. Euenus considered it a plague in his book collections, being "leaf-eating, destructive, black-bodied" in his Analect. Pliny the Elder recorded the use of "Blatta" in various medicines; describes the insect as disgusting, and as looking for dark corners to avoid the light. Dioscorides recorded the use of "Silphe", ground with oil, as a remedy for earaches.

They have been used in space tests. A cockroach with the name Nadezhda was sent into space by Russian scientists as part of the Foton-M mission, during the mission it mated and became the first land animal to produce offspring off-planet

Donald Harington's satirical novel The Cockroaches of Stay More (Harcourt, 1989) imagines a community of "cockroaches" in a mythical Ozark city where insects are named after their human counterparts. Madonna has quoted, “I am a survivor. I'm like a cockroach, you can't get rid of me.

There is an urban legend that maintains that they are immortal.

List of other interesting animals