How Long Do Cockroaches Live? | Surprising Insights!

Written by George Climer

The life cycle of a cockroach varies between different roach species. They all begin as eggs which are carried in a capsule, also known as the ootheca. A female cockroach can lay up to 36 eggs with an incubation period of 24 to 215 days.

How long do cockroaches live? An average cockroach can live up to one year. It is interesting that a female cockroach can live longer than a male cockroach, in some cases up to two years. Pet cockroaches are also known to live longer (depending on species around five years at best) which is almost three times their average life span.

Are you interested to learn more about the lifespan of a cockroach? In this article, we have covered the life span of the most common cockroach species such as the German Cockroach, Hissing Cockroach, American Cockroach, and Oriental cockroach.

Read on to find out more about specific types of cockroaches and their lifespan. Additionally, we have covered how long a cockroach can live without food, water, air, and more. Let’s begin!

Specific Types of Cockroaches and Their Lifespan

There are many kinds of cockroaches that roam the earth. We will discuss the characteristics, habitats, and lifespan of each species. You can also expect some fun facts about each species as well. Now let’s start with the German cockroaches, which are also the most common type that can be found all over the world.

German Cockroaches

German cockroaches are light brown in color. They easily can be spotted thanks to the two distinct dark stripes which can be found on their backs. This particular cockroach species is oval-shaped. They have six legs and antennae.

German cockroach

You would think that German cockroaches are more commonly found in Germany but they can easily be found across the United States. The German cockroaches live in warm and humid areas. They are often found in areas such as bathrooms or basements. Although, you will likely spot them in the dining room or kitchen as well.

These species of roaches have three life phases: egg, nymph, and adult. But how long do German Cockroaches live? They can live up to approximately 200 days. Although their lifespan is highly dependent on factors like living temperature, dietary habits, and injury.

Fun Fact: The German cockroach is one of the most common cockroach species in the world. Although they are equipped with wings, this species of roaches still prefer to run rather than fly.

Hissing Cockroaches

The Madagascar hissing cockroach is the largest cockroach species in the world. They are wingless during both the nymph and adult phases. It is also worth noting that the male hissing cockroaches have larger pronotal humps on their thorax. The males also have bushy antennae if compared with their female counterparts.

The Madagascar hissing cockroach is native to Madagascar. They are very sluggish when exposed to colder temperatures. They thrive in warm climates. These roaches are typically found in moist areas such as beneath rotten logs, forest floors, and tropical areas.

Hissing Cockroaches

You may be wondering, how long do Hissing cockroaches live? The Madagascar hissing cockroach is known to live up to five years. Nymphs go through six molts across seven months before reaching its adult stage.

Fun Fact: Male Madagascar hissing cockroach can hiss for the following three reasons: attracting mates, warning others, and to scare off their enemies.

American Cockroaches

American cockroaches are either reddish-brown or mahogany in color. They can be easily identified by the area behind their heads which is outlined with a yellow band.

The American cockroaches are primarily found outdoors. In southern states, these roaches are commonly found in shady, humid areas such as flowerbeds or trees. In northern states, they can be found in sewers and drains. The American cockroaches may also move indoors if faced with climate change or food shortage.

The American cockroaches

How long does an American cockroach live? Normally, the American cockroach can live up to only a year. However, the life span of the American cockroach is highly dependent on its environment, diet, and other factors. For example, living in unfavorable conditions can cause an adult American Cockroach to die prematurely.

Fun Fact: Both male and female American Cockroaches are capable of flight. Their wings develop during adulthood.

Oriental Cockroaches

The oriental cockroaches are shiny black to dark reddish-brown in color. They are also one of the largest cockroaches roaming the Earth.

This species can be widely found in the northern regions of the United States. Oriental cockroaches can often be found in sewers. This gives them access to structures through drains or door thresholds.

How long can an Oriental cockroach live for? Adult Oriental cockroaches can live up to 180 days. The adult male oriental cockroaches can typically live between 110 to 160 days while the adult female oriental cockroach can live between 35 to 180 days.

Fun Fact: Oriental cockroaches are also known as water bugs. Due to their appearance, some may even refer to them as black beetle cockroaches. The Oriental cockroach can release a strong smell and is considered one of the dirtiest cockroaches.

A Complete List of Cockroaches and Their Lifespan

Species of Cockroach Lifespan
German Cockroach200 days
Hissing Cockroach5 years
American Cockroach1 year
Oriental Cockroach180 days

How Long Can Cockroaches Live Under Some Specific Circumstances

How Long Can Cockroaches Live Without Food?

In short, cockroaches can live for one month without food. Cockroaches are cold-blooded insects. Hence, they can go for so long without sustenance.

How Long Can Cockroaches Live Without Air?

Cockroaches often hold their breath to regulate their loss of water. But how long can they last without breathing air? Well, they can survive up to 45 minutes without air.

How Long Can Cockroaches Live Without Water?

Cockroaches are desperately in need of water. They are able to live a month without food. However, they can only survive 3 days without water. This explains why cockroaches are often found near water sources.

How Long Can a Cockroach Live Underwater?

Cockroaches can survive for about 30 min underwater. If you didn’t know already, cockroaches are very good at holding their breath. German cockroaches can survive up to 15 minutes in cold tap water. However, they die faster in hot water.

How Long Can a Cockroach Live on a Glue Trap?

Let’s assume that the cockroach has no access to water sources within the next 3 days of being trapped in the glue trap. Having said that, the trapped roach may only survive for that long, and if it is injured, it will last even less.

How Long Can Cockroach Live Without Oxygen in a Vacuum?

A cockroach will be dead in a matter of minutes in a total vacuum. However, they may survive overnight if stored in a normal vacuum bag. This is because a normal vacuum does not completely remove air. Cockroaches probably won’t suffocate from a normal vacuum. However, they may die of dehydration within days.

How Long Have Cockroaches Lived on Earth

How Long Have Cockroaches Lived on Earth

Fossils have proven that cockroaches roamed the earth for over 300 million years. Cockroaches are one of the oldest groups of insects on earth. With that said, they also happen to be one of the most common insects around. There are approximately 4600 species of cockroaches around the globe. They can be found on every single continent, excluding Antarctica.

How could they survive for so long? Well, the cockroaches’ survivability is derived from their adaptability, diet, size, nocturnal nature, and reproduction.

Cockroaches are impressively adaptive. They have adjusted to the earth’s changes for hundreds of millions of years. Besides that, they aren’t picky eaters. Cockroaches will eat just about anything. These little creatures are however drawn to food sources like starch, sweets, grease, and even meat. Their dietary preference doesn’t stop there. Cockroaches even eat wallpapers and stamps.

The size of a cockroach also plays a vital role. They can hide and live in the tiniest of cracks. They can even squeeze into the little gaps thanks to their flexible exoskeleton. Besides this, their nocturnal nature also helps with their survivability.

Cockroaches spend the day in dark, secluded sites. As the night falls, they begin to venture out in search of food and water. Therefore, the cockroach population can continue to increase before they are even sighted.

Besides, cockroaches are not that easy to kill. They can survive months without food and can withstand days without water. Roaches are also excellent at holding their breath. Did you know that a cockroach can even live without its head? There’s no stopping these little creatures. A roach can live up to a week without its head. Unlike humans, cockroaches do not breathe with their mouths; instead, they breathe through spiracles in their bodies.

Amazing Facts You Didn’t Know About Cockroaches

Cockroaches Are Cannibals

Cockroaches are not the ones to fuss over their food. These creatures simply eat anything. Their dietary preference can range from fruit, glue, and even feces. It is no surprise that they could even consider eating their fellow cockroach friends.

Cockroaches Cannot Survive A Nuclear Explosion

Heard of the theory that cockroaches can survive nuclear explosions? Thankfully, this is merely a myth. How did it come about? In 1945, after the events in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it was found that cockroaches were the sole survivors.

An experiment took place where German Cockroaches had to endure 3 levels of radiation. None of the test subjects could survive past radiation levels of 100000 rads. In conclusion, cockroaches cannot survive nuclear explosions. However, it is without a doubt that these creatures can endure greater levels of radiation when compared to humans.

Cockroaches Can Squeeze Through Tiny Gaps

Thanks to their exoskeletons, cockroaches can fit through the tiniest of gaps. Their exoskeletons are extremely flexible which allows them to flatten themselves to a quarter of their body height.

Cockroaches Can Trigger Asthma

Studies have shown that the cockroaches’ saliva and feces can trigger asthma. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America also pointed out that cockroaches contain a protein that is an allergen to some people. This protein triggers an asthma attack.

Cockroaches Love Beer

Studies show that cockroaches are fond of beer. No, they are not alcoholics but cockroaches are merely attracted to the sugar and hops which can be found in beer.


In short, a cockroach’s life span heavily depends on its surroundings, diet, and even its species. Certain cockroaches can live for a year, and some can live for five years. Cockroaches can survive under extreme circumstances. They can go for a month without food, days without water, and they can even survive a week without their head. It’s no wonder cockroaches have been around for the past 300 million years on this planet.

List of Sources

Barbara K., American cockroach, University of Florida

Brown W., Merchant M., Siders K., Cockroach Biology and Management, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Cockroach Biology, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Willis B., Separating Fact from Fiction: Cockroach Myths and Misconceptions, NIEHS