I am sure that I am not the only one who doesn’t want cockroaches crawling around my home or garden. 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 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 wherever they liked. So can they? Can cockroaches fly?
Let’s find out together!
What Are Cockroaches?
First of all, let’s understand these insects. Cockroaches are expert scavengers, incredible survivors during harsh times, and, last but not least, genuinely annoying pests. They can be found in many areas of the world, crawling all over the house and especially dirty kitchen areas. Moreover, they lay eggs everywhere, especially on contaminated foods and in small crevices.
According to science, there are more than 3,500 types of cockroaches (1), with more species to be discovered. 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 the abdomen and across the back. The top pair of wings has a protective layer, 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? Some cockroaches have wings when they reach maturity. However, not all of them are good flyers, while some don’t fly at all.
Flying cockroaches have longer and stronger wings that allow them to carry their body weight while in the air.
So yes, some cockroaches can fly, making a lot of people unhappy. The flying feature is an additional issue for those worried about these insects crawling on their belongings and food.
However, all of them prefer crawling. Even the ones that can fly will do it only occasionally, such as during extreme heat.
Like 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 more prolifically in areas where temperatures are warm. When temperatures rise up to 85 degrees F, cockroaches start to fly. They do this to seek more chilly environments and preserve their energy. The species that can’t fly well will try to glide and make the best of their wing’s capabilities.
Why Don’t Cockroaches Always Fly?
A very succinct explanation is that they are kind of chubby and have small wings.
A more detailed explanation is that 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 quite a challenge, especially over long distances. In other words, all cockroaches will prefer walking to flying.
However, adult cockroaches will fly if they feel a threat close by. These cold-blooded insects use their wings as gliders to help them get down to a lower position. Rather than simply falling, they glide to touch the ground again safely.
Even so, most 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 can fly when pregnant. They don’t travel long distances, yet they fly to seek protection (although it can be described as more of a gliding jump than actual flying).
But what about nymphs? Can baby cockroaches fly? This is an easy question to answer – 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 main characteristics 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. These cockroaches rarely fly, only in heat, and they prefer to glide rather than fly (3).
Asian cockroaches have quite perculiar characteristics compared 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 rather than inhabiting houses and can sometimes be found in North America.
Cuban species have a particular green color and can usually be found in Central America. Sometimes, they can live as far north as the southeastern U.S.A. These species have relatively fragile bodies and wings that allow them to fly over long distances.
Australian cockroaches are also strong fliers that would typically live outdoors. They prefer flying during heat and humid periods of the year. They can sometimes be over an inch long.
Pennsylvania Wood Cockroaches
Unlike most cockroaches, this species prefers to stay 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 or glide. 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 cockraoch has undeveloped wing pads.
Can Cockroaches Fly: FAQs
Q: Why do cockroaches fly toward you?
A: Don’t blame cockroaches for coming in your direction. They aren’t trying to! Remember that not all cockroach species are good 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 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 forage through. This fact applies to all cockroaches, whether they can fly or not.
Cockroaches feed voraciously on all dead organic matter, so they can become a risk to your health when invading your home.
Q: How do cockroaches enter your home?
A: Cockroaches usually enter the home or business space through holes in exterior walls or through drain pipes.
Flying cockroaches will have multiple ways to enter a room. They can come from trees, then fly onto rooftops, entering the house through gaps in the attic. Doors and windows are also the ideal gateways for them. The insects may follow light coming from the T.V. or a lamp.
Q: How high can cockroaches fly?
A: It depends on their size and wing power. The powerful flying cockroaches can reach somewhere over 100 feet in the air. 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.
- Repair all the cracks in your home, including the ones in the walls and around window frames. Avoid leaving large stacks of magazines and books on the floor.
So to answer the question ‘can cockroaches fly’ one last time – yes, most species do but will rarely choose to fly. 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.