©nd700 | AdobeStock

Most food facilities are aware of the health and safety risks associated with cockroach infestations, including the germs and bacteria they have been known to spread.

What may not be as widely known is the fact that cockroaches are very interesting and resilient pests that exhibit some very odd behavior and survival tactics.

With more than 4,000 species of cockroaches around the world, cockroach myths abound. (See Test Your Cockroach Knowledge, page 34.) But there also are many fascinating true facts about cockroaches. Following are 10 of those truths.

  1. Cockroaches spend 75% of their time resting and can withstand temperatures as cold as 32°F.
  2. A cockroach can live for a week without its head. Due to its open circulatory system, and the fact that it breathes through little holes in each of its body segments, it is not dependent on the mouth or head to breathe. The roach only dies because without a mouth, it can’t drink water and dies of thirst.
  3. A cockroach can hold its breath for 40 minutes and can survive submerged under water for half an hour. Cockroaches often hold their breath to help regulate their loss of water.
  4. Cockroaches can run up to three miles in an hour, which means they can spread germs and bacteria throughout a food processing facility very quickly.
  5. Newborn German cockroaches become adults in as little as 36 days. In fact, the German cockroach is the most common of the cockroaches and has been implicated in outbreaks of illness and allergic reactions in many people.
  6. A one-day-old baby cockroach, which is about the size of a speck of dust, can run almost as fast as its parents.
  7. The American cockroach has shown a marked attraction to alcoholic beverages, especially beer. It is most likely attracted by the alcohol mixed with hops and sugar.
  8. The world’s largest cockroach (which lives in South America) is six inches long with a one-foot wingspan. Average cockroaches can vary in size from one-half to two inches long.
  9. Cockroaches are believed to have originated more than 280 million years ago, in the Carboniferous era.
  10. Because they are cold-blooded insects, cockroaches can live without food for one month, but will only survive one week without water.
  11. These facts, showing cockroaches to be some of the most adaptable creatures on earth, explain why controlling and eliminating cockroach infestations can be very difficult – and why prevention is the best defense.
Adapted from 10 Fascinating Cockroach Facts from the National Pest Management Association.