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Can a cockroach survive after being flushed down a toilet?
Some people are flushing cockroaches down the toilet rather than stepping on them or spraying them with roach spray. They do that as some feel like it’s a humane way to kill a cockroach.
The thing is, once a roach is flushed down the toilet it is unlikely the cockroach will be killed. Why is that you ask? Well, a cockroach can "hold its breath" for 5 to 7 minutes according to a study from Australian scientists.
There are many websites stating that cockroaches can hold their breath for 40 minutes, but I could not find a study to back up that statement.
Cockroach Video: View from inside a sewer pipe while flushing a toilet
Also, cockroaches may not be in toilet water long after a flush. The toilet piping is only full of water inside the toilet bowl, once flushed and the water gets past the bend in the pipe there is air and more.
This makes the roach unlikely to drown which enable them to grab a foothold and just climb back up your toilet or enter the sewage system where there is plenty of oxygen. So if you think you when you flush a cockroach down toilet it’ll kill it, think again.
How do cockroaches breathe?
Now if Cockroaches can hold their breath when flushed in a toilet, you may wonder how do roaches breathe? Like other insects, cockroaches breathe through a system of tubes called tracheae which are attached to openings called spiracles on their body. When the carbon dioxide level in a roach raises high enough, valves on the spiracles open and carbon dioxide diffuses out and oxygen diffuses in.
Cockroach Video: Roach Respiration System
Can Cockroaches Swim?
Cockroaches can indeed swim, but you won’t catch them doing the backstroke. Cockroaches have really light bodies, so instead of swimming they just float on water.
While it’s not common for roaches to swim through toilet drains to enter homes, it does happen. Roaches simply close their spiracles so that no water can enter their bodies, and then travel up the drain floating through the water.
Cockroach Video: MythBusters – Do Cockroaches Swim or Drown?
How long can a cockroach live without water?
Cockroaches are reported by many to live without water for 7 days (one week) on average as they are cold blooded which allows them to go for this period of time without finding water to drink.
Studies actually show that the German cockroach and American Cockroach can live much longer than a week without water. A German cockroach can live up to 20.1 days without food or water and an American cockroach can live 41.7 days without food or water.
More details about this is below.
How long can a German cockroach live without water?
According to Walter Ebeling of UC Riverside Entomology, newly emerged adult females of the German cockroach, Blattella germanica, have been found to live at 27°C (81°F) and 36 to 40% relative humidity for an average of:
- 20.1 days without food or water
- 14.7 days with dry food (dog biscuits) and no water
- 82 days with both food and water
How long can an American cockroach live without water?
Walter Ebeling of UC Riverside Entomology, also shared that the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, have been found to live at 27°C (81°F) and 36 to 40% relative humidity for an average of:
- 41.7 days without food or water
- 40.1 days with dry food (dog biscuits) and no water
- 190 days with both food and water
As you can see, the German and American cockroach survives much longer than a week without water which is fascinating!
How Fast Can Cockroaches Run?
If you’ve had experience with cockroaches, you know how fast they can be when running away from us. But how fast can they run? Cockroaches can run about three miles per hour.
The American cockroach, which is popular in Houston, has been clocked running 59 inches per second, which is precisely 3.4 miles per hour. At 50 body lengths per second, this roach is about three times the speed of a cheetah!
How Long Can A Cockroach Live Without Its Head?
When a creatures head is cut off, that’s usually a sign of immediate death. With cockroaches, not so much as they can live without their head for a minimum of one week and up to 40 days depending on the cockroach and the conditions!
Cockroach Video: Top 5 Largest Cockroach Infestations
Now you may be asking yourself, how is that? Well, cockroaches have an open circulatory system and are able to breathe out little openings at each of their body segments.
The only reason they will die usually within a week or up to 40 days depending on the cockroach is due to the fact they will die of thirst. As we shared above, a cockroach can live without water for quite some time.
Physiologist and biochemist Joseph Kunkel at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who studies cockroach development, explains how a cockroach can live without its head along with the estimated time.
To summarize, he states that humans breathe through our mouth or nose and the breathing rhythm is controlled in our brain. Cutting off a human head would interfere definitely interfere with breathing.
Cockroaches on the other hand breathe through spiracles which are in each body segment and they don’t have blood to oxygen to tissues. The spiracles deliver air to each cell of a cockroach’s body through a set of tubes called tracheae. The cockroaches’ brain does not control the breathing through the spiracles.
Cockroaches do not have blood pressure the way a human does and so cutting off the head does not lead to uncontrolled bleeding.
Lastly, the cockroach is a poikilotherm or cold blooded animal. They need much less food and a one day meal would be enough to last them a whole month as long as they were not extremely active burning up lots of energy.
Without a head, the cockroach would just sit around not doing much. So there you have it, you now know how long a cockroach can live without its head.
Can cockroaches come up through toilets?
Cockroaches can make their way through pipes that lead from your sewage system to appear in your toilet. This happens when the toilet bowl environment is suitable for cockroaches to come up through.
Cockroach Video: Cockroaches coming up from sewer through toilet
A suitable environment for a cockroach to crawl up and come through your toilet is if the toilet is broken. A broken toilet may not have water in the bowl so cockroaches can easily crawl up through the pipes. Cockroaches can also crawl inside a toilet bowl if the lid is up and then when crawl out coming up through your toilet.
How long can a cockroach live?
The German Cockroach and American Cockroach are the two species most common out of all in the Houston, Texas area and they live about 200 days for the German cockroach and one year on average for the American Cockroach.
How long can a German cockroach live?
German cockroaches from egg to adult can live from 54 to 215 days, with an average of approximately 100 days to live. This is what Michigan State University states according to what they shared from the National Pest Management Association Inc.
How long can an American cockroach live?
American Cockroaches from egg to adult can live about 1000 days (600 days from egg to adult & 400 additional days as an adult) which averages to about 2.5 years. This is what the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) states.
Who are they? They are a federal-state-county partnership dedicated to developing knowledge in agriculture, human and natural resources, and the life sciences, and enhancing and sustaining the quality of human life by making that information accessible.
Keep in mind there are a lot of things which can determine the lifespan of cockroaches such as access to food, water and their environment.
How long can cockroaches live without air?
About 40 minutes is how long cockroaches can go without breathing air. Australian scientists suggest from their research that roaches hold their breath to prevent water loss.
Animal physiologist Dr Craig White of the University of Queensland in Brisbane Australia states cockroaches can hold their breath for five to seven minutes at a time to prevent water loss. This prevents the cockroach from drying out and dying. Dr White says the findings could explain how some cockroaches develop resistance to pesticides as well. The cockroach’s breath-holding could be a resistance mechanism protecting them from pesticides.
Cockroaches have a very efficient breathing system that uses air filled tubes, called trachea, to deliver oxygen directly to cells.
"The problem with having this tracheal system that delivers oxygen directly to the cells is that it also carries water vapor out of the cells," says Dr. White.
"The idea here is they close their spiracles when they have low requirement for oxygen, so then they don’t let the water out."
One reason for this could be is that Cockroaches are trying to stop too much oxygen from entering their body, too much oxygen can be toxic.
About Cockroaches in Houston
In Houston, five cockroach species are really troublesome to homes and buildings. They are the German cockroach, American cockroach, Brown-banded cockroach, Oriental cockroach and the Smoky Brown cockroach.
Cockroaches are a dreadful nuisance in Houston. These pests can enter our homes in boxes, grocery bags, beverage cartons, furniture and even dried pet foods. They also enter around slack doors and windows, where electrical lines or water and steam pipes pass through walls, firewood and through sewer lines.
Cockroach Control and Roach Exterminator Pricing
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- Cockroach Control and Roach Exterminator costs: $135 and up for German roaches and other types.
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Cockroaches are a popular Houston pest Gulf Coast Exterminators gets service calls for. Call us today at (281) 449-7404 and let us help solve your Cockroach problem with our successful & affordable Cockroach Control and Roach Exterminator services.
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Cockroach Resources & Information
Here is additional information and resources about Cockroach facts online with in-depth information:
- 10 Fascinating Cockroach Facts
- 10 Fascinating Facts About Cockroaches
- 12 Interesting Cockroach Facts for Homeowners
- The creepiest of crawlies? 10 facts about cockroaches
- Madagascar hissing cockroach facts
- Cockroach Facts, Worksheets, Species, Habitat and Diet For Kids
- A cockroach can live without its head
- Fact or Fiction?: A Cockroach Can Live without Its Head
- Can a Cockroach Live without Its Head?