Why do some cockroaches fly

Can cockroaches actually fly? | 5 pieces of information

Most people associate cockroaches with disgust and loathing. And that although they hardly know anything about these living beings. For example, many do not know whether or not cockroaches can fly. It is worthwhile to take a closer look at the cockroaches and their way of life. With the information from this guide, it will be child's play to recognize the animals in the future. The background knowledge may also facilitate removal in the event of an infestation.


Subspecies and likelihood of confusion

The genus of the cockroach comprises around 4000 species worldwide. Those found in human households are popularly known as cockroaches. The most common cockroaches are:

  • German cockroach (Blattella germanica)
  • Common cockroach / Oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis)
  • American cockroach (Periplaneta americana)
  • Brown banded cockroach (Supella longipalpa)
  • Brown cockroach (Periplaneta brunnea)
  • Australian cockroach (Periplaneta australasiae)

Many people wrongly assume that cockroaches only occur under unsanitary conditions. However, if the location favors preferences such as warmth and humidity, there is a risk of meeting cockroaches even in well-kept households. Their bad reputation probably comes from the fact that they transmit disease and live as storage pests. In addition to the above-mentioned species, there are three other varieties native to Europe, which, however, avoid proximity to civilization and are therefore not considered pests.

  • Lapland cockroach (Ectobius lapponicus)
  • Wood cockroach (Ectobius sylvestris)
  • Turkestan cockroach (Shelfordella lateralis), also red-runner or chocolate cockroach

The latter is a special breed for feeding reptiles.

Recognize and distinguish cockroaches

Regardless of the species, those affected should take action against the insects in the event of an infestation. Nevertheless, it is helpful to be able to distinguish the various cockroach species from one another on the basis of these characteristics.

German cockroach (Blatella germanica)

  • Body size: 12 to 15 mm

  • Body color: brown with two black stripes on the chest
  • have full-length wings
  • Lifespan: 100 to 200 days

Oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis)

  • Body size: 25 to 30 mm
  • Body color: dark brown to black
  • Wings are only rudimentarily developed in females, in males they reach up to 3/4 over the abdomen
  • mainly stay on the ground
  • multiply strongly
  • not sensitive to cold

Brown banded cockroach (Supella longipalpa)

  • Body length: 10 to 14 mm
  • Body color: yellow-brown with a light border around the neck
  • Males have longer wings than females
  • sticky oothecae (egg packets)
  • prefer dry places
  • Synonyms: sofa or furniture scraper

Australian cockroach (Periplaneta australasiae)

  • Body size: 25 to 35 mm
  • Body color: red-brown (looks similar to the American cockroach), yellow stripes on the outside of the wings
  • Carriers of disease
  • causes damage to technical equipment

American cockroach (Periplaneta americana)

  • Body size: 28 to 44 mm
  • Body color: bright red-brown
  • The wings of the males protrude over the body, in the females they close with the abdomen
  • love warm, humid places


Though cockroaches have wings they can't really fly. Their leaps and bounds are reminiscent of flying, but in reality it is more of a gliding flight in which the insects only cover short distances. Only the brown banded cockroach, the Australian cockroach and mother animals sometimes fly away in danger to bring the eggs to safety.

Note: In warm climates, the formation of wings is more pronounced, so that cockroaches living there can fly better than their relatives.

On the ground, however, the cockroaches move very quickly and nimbly. They can cover a fabulous 1.5 meters per second. Even smooth walls are not an obstacle. Thanks to their exoskeleton, they manage to squeeze their way through the smallest holes, similar to mice. The pests are also true locomotives under water. They can hold their breath in the sewer system for up to 40 minutes.


Although many people abhor the small insects, it is their own fault for their occurrence in European latitudes. As neozoa, humans introduced cockroaches. Now the different species have adapted to the local conditions. They love high temperatures and, depending on the variety, also humid places. That is why they are increasingly found in zoos, bathrooms, kitchens and washrooms. But the pantry is also a welcome place to stay. Infestation is not easy to spot. Cockroaches are nocturnal and live hidden. Only in the dark do they dare to emerge from holes and joints.

Note: Fossil remains testify that cockroaches lived over 300 million years ago.

Signs of infestation in the home

  • Droppings
  • intense, peculiar smell
  • Smudges
  • Moulting residues
  • Eggs (oothecae)
  • tiny scuff marks on packaging


Many people doubt the real core of some science fiction films in which the insects defy radioactive rays and are the only living things to survive a nuclear catastrophe. To a certain extent, however, they are really immune to radioactivity. Here is more interesting information about their properties.


Cockroaches are omnivores. Fabrics as well as paper, food or leather fall victim to their consumption. They have a particular preference for beer. If there is sufficient food supply, they multiply rapidly. Luck in misfortune you could call it that the insects then independently reduce their own population through cannibalism in order to prevent food shortages. Again, they are able to survive without food for a month.

Note: Cockroaches can not only do without food, but also without their head for a week. Unlike normal living beings, they do not breathe through their mouth or nose, but rather take in the air through small holes in their bodies.


Human skin is also on the cockroach's diet. Other living things are particularly lucrative because they not only provide food, but also fluids. A cockroach bite manifests itself in the following symptoms:

  • swelling
  • Incrustation
  • delayed onset of pain
Note: The cockroach can transmit diseases and cause allergies such as asthma.