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One of the hardiest creatures on earth, cockroaches have been around on the earth for more than 300 million years. They can survive for a month without food and a week without water - or their heads! Find out more...

Little Chintu saw a cockroach scurrying across the kitchen floor. He rushed to call his mother. But, by the time she reached, armed with a repellent, the roach was nowhere to be seen.

Have you wondered how cockroaches sense dangers so fast? They can sense even the slightest movement as if by some sixth-sense. Instantly they run and wriggle into tight spots where they are safe. Any wonder then that cockroaches have survived around 330 million years?

The name Cockroach is derived from the Spanish word "cucaracha", which means "chafer, beetle" i.e. a large slow moving beetle. They are also called roaches in short.

Fast facts

The earliest fossils of cockroaches are from 354-295 million years ago. Cockroaches have survived the Ice Age and all kinds of disasters such as earthquakes, cyclones or floods. They are found allover the world.

There are about 3,500 known species of cockroaches but only some of these like to live with us humans.

Cockroaches are nocturnal and tend to run away from light.

Cockroaches can hold their breath for 45 minutes and also have the ability to slow down their heart rate.

They can stay alive without their heads for up to a week. Since roaches drink water only from their mouths, therefore, after a week they die of thirst. But they can live for a month without food.

Cockroaches can withstand harmful radiations such as nuclear radiations of far greater intensities than humans can. We wouldn't be joking if we say cockroaches will inherit the earth after a nuclear war destroys humanity.

How do they sense danger?

Recent studies by American scientists show that roaches have fine hair on their backs which act as sensors. They can sense even the slightest changes in wind movement from all sides. The hair is oriented in such a way that it can bend easily in all directions. As soon as there is any air movement from one side, the hair tilts in the opposite direction. Suppose you try to target a roach with a broom from the front, the hair will turn backwards. The cockroach then figures out that danger lies ahead, and flees backwards.

Vacuum cleaners however, can fool roaches. As you know, vacuum cleaners suck air. When the nozzle is pointed at the cockroach, its hair turns towards the nozzle and it senses danger from the opposite side. Therefore it runs straight into the nozzle. Gotcha!

What do they eat?

Cockroaches can eat almost anything including other cockroaches. They like to live in our houses because here they can find crumbs or garbage to feed on. By feeding on litter and excreta, cockroaches help us clean the earth. They act as scavengers and are often called the custodians of nature.

So you see that cockroaches are not so bad after all. We detest them mainly because they look scary and soil our things. Also, they breed rapidly and are potential disease carriers so its best if you aim to keep your home roach-free!

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