I am sure that I am not the only one who doesn’t want to have cockroaches crawling around my home, gardens, or business areas. I mean, like ever. I know that they are part of the whole ecosystem, and they should not disappear from Earth, but if we can cohabit without us meeting, it would be great.
I have a repulsion for roaches not because I am afraid of them but because these insects are a source of disease, spreading filth and high marks all over. On a disgusting scale, these insects score high. The only thing that could make cockroaches worse would be if they could also fly and land on your goods. So can they? Can cockroaches fly?
Let’s find out together!
What Are Cockroaches?
First of all, let’s understand these insects. What makes them stand out? Cockroaches are expert scavengers, laudable survivors during harsh times, and, last but not least, genuinely annoying pests. They usually live crawling all over the house’s counters and dirty kitchen areas. Moreover, they lay eggs everywhere, especially on contaminated foods and small crevices.
Now, here is a piece of information that I didn’t want to hear, but it is what it is, and I can’t do anything about it other than to squeaky clean my house. According to science, there are more than 3,500 types of cockroaches (1), with more other species to be discovered. However, most of these roaches live in tropical areas, where the climate is wet and warm.
Do All Species Have Wings
Some cockroaches have wings, while other species do not. As such, many cockroaches can fly as well as walk. While there are different types of cockroaches distributed worldwide, all of them share some common characteristics, such as:
- Hind legs
- Two pairs of wings that fold over all over the abdomen and across the back. The top pair of wings has a protective attribute, shielding the body and the hind wings.
Can Cockroaches Fly?
Now let’s get to the question of the day – are all cockroaches able to fly? So cockroaches have wings when they reach maturity. However, not all of them are good flyers, while some don’t fly at all.
Anyway, the flying cockroaches have longer and stronger wings that allow them to sustain their body weight while in the air.
So yes, some cockroaches can fly, making a lot of people unhappy. The flying feature is just an additional issue for those worried about these insects crawling their belongings and food.
However, all of them prefer crawling. Even the ones that can fly will do it only on some occasions, such as extreme heat. Yes, these insects are not very fond of extremes.
Like many other insects, cockroaches are cold-blooded or ectothermic (2). Due to their thermogenesis, cockroaches’ body temperature depends on their surroundings. Unlike mammals, these insects cannot regulate their body temperature internally.
Cockroaches will grow ideally in areas where temperatures are warm. When temperatures rise up to 85 degrees, cockroaches start to fly. They do it to seek more chilly environments and preserve their energy. The species that can’t fly will try to glide and make the best of their capabilities.
Why Don’t Cockroaches Always Fly?
A very succinct explanation is that they are kind of chubby and have small wings. But let’s not diminish their importance and understand exactly the reason why most often than not, cockroaches don’t fly even if they can.
So, their physics controls their flying mode. And since most cockroach species have a larger body compared to the size of their wings, this makes flying to be quite a challenge, especially when talking about long distances. In other words, all cockroaches will prefer creeping to flying.
However, adult cockroaches will mostly fly if they feel a threat close by. The cold-blooded insects use their wings as gliders to help them go down to a lower place. Rather than simply falling, they glide to touch the ground again safely.
Even so, most of the cockroach males will become active flyers during the mating season. They are capable of traveling great distances for a partner. During this time, they follow light sources.
Cockroach females rarely fly; instead, they maintain glides through the air. But this changes when they get pregnant. Although they are heavier than normal, cockroaches fly when pregnant. They don’t travel long distances, yet they fly to seek protection. I don’t know if this is a vital detail, but, well, they are not very graceful either. It is more like a gliding jump.
But what about nymphs? Can baby cockroaches fly? This is an easy question to answer because no, they cannot. Yet, they can still move fast if they need to.
Species of Cockroaches Able to Fly
Let’s take a look at the most famous flying cockroaches:
These are the most common types of cockroaches across the U.S. They have been present on the continent ever since the early 1600s. Their particularities are the reddish-brown bodies with powerful wings that allow them to fly, although they would rarely do so.
N.Y.C. cockroaches are some of the most widespread pests that can rapidly infest any home. N.Y.C. cockroaches rarely fly, only in heat, and they prefer to glide rather than fly (3).
Asian cockroaches have quite particular characteristics than the other species – instead of running away from light, these insects are attracted to it. The Asian family is represented by solid fliers that prefer staying outdoors and can sometimes live in North America.
Cuban species have a particular green color and can often be found in Central America. Sometimes, they can live as far north as the southeastern U.S.A. These species have fragile bodies and wings that allow them to fly over long distances.
These are also strong fliers that would typically live outdoors. They prefer flying during heat and humid periods of the country. They can sometimes be over an inch long.
Pennsylvania Wood Cockroaches
Unlike most cockroaches, these species prefer staying out during the daytime. Although both males and females have light wings, only males can fly. Males are about one inch long, while females are a bit shorter.
Cockroaches That Don’t Fly
There are still some cockroach species that don’t have wings at all and, consequently, they are not able to fly. When they are nymphs, none of them have wings. They usually grow wings as they develop. However, some types remain wingless for good. For instance, the Madagascar hissing cockroach has no wings even when mature, while the female Oriental one has undeveloped wing pads.
Can Cockroaches Fly: FAQs
People usually have many questions about cockroaches. But let’s find the most frequently asked ones.
Q: Why do cockroaches fly toward you?
A: Don’t blame cockroaches for coming in your direction. They actually aren’t. Remember that not all cockroach species are excellent fliers. On the contrary, they struggle to maintain a certain direction when they are up in the air. Most probably, the insect that hits you is gliding uncontrollably or following a light.
Q: Are cockroaches dangerous?
A: Unfortunately, they really are. No wonder people want to get rid of cockroaches immediately. These insects are dangerous because they carry lots of bacteria from the waste they find in insalubrious homes and commercial areas. This fact applies to all cockroaches, whether they can fly or not.
Cockroaches feed on dead organic matter, so they become a risk to your health when invading your home.
Q: How do cockroaches enter your home?
A: Cockroaches enter the home or business’s spaces through holes in exterior walls and then migrate through drain pipes.
Nevertheless, flying cockroaches will have multiple ways to enter a room. They can come from trees, then fly onto rooftops, only to enter the house through gaps in the attic fan. Doors and windows are also the ideal gates for them. The insects will usually follow the light coming from the T.V. or a lamp.
Q: How high can cockroaches fly?
A: It only depends on their size and the wings’ power. The powerful flying cockroaches can reach somewhere over 100 feet at a time. However, the majority will only fly as high as an average tree crown.
Q: What it is the easiest way to get rid of cockroaches
A: My advice to you is to get professional help even if you find a single cockroach in your kitchen. If there is one, it most probably has a family. Furthermore, every species needs a different treatment scheme. However, there are some easy ways to prevent cockroach invasion:
- Keep all the areas clean. Sweep up any food leftovers, wipe down countertops, and mop up any spills immediately. Remember: cockroaches love dirty environments.
- Remove all food leftovers from the kitchen’s surfaces. If you have pets, you should put away their food during the night.
- Repair any water leakage. Cockroaches live in damp environments, so any crack or crevice in your room will “welcome” unwanted visitors.
- Restore all the cracks in your home, including the ones in the walls and window frames. Avoid leaving large stacks of magazines and books.
So to answer the question ‘can cockroaches fly’ one last time – yes, most of the species do. But regardless of their means of transportation, they are all a threat to your family’s health.
They love filthy environments and can carry bacteria of all kinds. Flying ones are as dangerous as the crawling cockroaches. They all have the power to contaminate food areas, so make sure you do your best to prevent any possible invasion.