how long have cockroaches been around

Cockroaches have been on this planet for nearly 320 million years, which means they’ve outlasted the dinosaurs and even most trees. But beyond just sticking around for a long time, cockroaches are actually brilliant little creatures who could probably give humans some lessons in survival. Cockroaches are one of the few insects that can thrive almost anywhere. They will eat almost anything — from decaying leaves to human garbage — and live in any kind of environment, from tropical rainforests to sub-Arctic regions with no vegetation whatsoever. Even when other organisms struggle in drought conditions, cockroach populations don’t decrease; instead, their numbers grow even larger. So how do these resilient little bugs do it? Here are five things you should know about cockroaches:

Cockroaches have been around for a long time

The earliest known cockroach-like insect fossils date back to the Carboniferous period, which occurred between 359 and 299 million years ago. Today’s cockroaches are members of the insect order Blattodea, which is believed to have evolved between the end of the Carboniferous and the beginning of the Permian periods, about 296 to 248 million years ago. This means that roaches have survived numerous ice ages, droughts and warm periods, as well as volcanic eruptions, floods, extreme weather and earthquakes. Because of their long history, we can assume that roaches are capable of enduring almost any type of environmental change. While roaches have certainly been around for a long time, their population has actually decreased in recent years. This is largely due to humans’ efforts to control and eradicate the pests, as well as their natural habitat being destroyed by deforestation.

Roaches are incredibly resilient

Scientists have observed that cockroaches exposed to extreme cold conditions, like those found in the Arctic, can go into a state of hibernation called torpor, where metabolic processes slow down to a near standstill. Once the weather warms up again, the insects will reawaken. Roaches also feel very little pain because they don’t have any nerves associated with pain. Even when they’re being squished by a human foot, they’re unlikely to feel any discomfort. Roaches are also remarkably resistant to bacteria and viruses, which may be due to their ability to survive in extremely poor conditions, with very little access to food, water and clean air.

Roaches can hold their breath and survive without oxygen

Even if the air around them becomes completely devoid of oxygen, cockroaches can continue to breathe for up to six hours by taking in air through their hemolymph (blood). As the roach’s hemolymph has low levels of carbon dioxide, it doesn’t need to be reoxygenated as often as humans’ blood does. If the roach is submerged in water, it can even breathe through gills that it grows on its abdomen, which lets it extract oxygen from the water. This biological process is called aquatic respiration, and it’s also how some aquatic insects that don’t have gills survive without oxygen.

Roach feet are super-adhesive

Cockroaches have specialized feet with tiny hairs that secrete a substance similar to super-strong glue. This sticky substance is produced by a cockroach’s pronotal glands, which are located near the base of its head. It’s believed that this is how the insects are able to walk up walls and even upside-down on ceilings. Although the gluey substance doesn’t stay sticky for long, it’s strong enough to hold entire roach bodies in place as they scuttle around. In fact, you can even try this out for yourself at home: just put a drop of the cockroach glue on a wall, wait for the substance to dry, and then carefully place a roach on it. The insect will be stuck in place until you carefully remove it.

The roach brain is highly developed

Cockroach brains are more developed than those of many mammals, including humans. The brain of a cockroach is divided into ten sections, with most being devoted to sensory information and feeding behavior. While a human brain is responsible for communication, planning, decision-making and consciousness, a roach brain must focus almost entirely on feeding and avoiding predators. This is why cockroach brains are so highly developed: the majority of their neurons are devoted to finding food and hiding from threats. As cockroaches eat almost anything and can live in almost any type of environment, it would make sense for them to have a large and complex brain.


Cockroaches have been around for a very long time, and they’re actually quite fascinating and unique creatures. They’re also super-resilient and can live through just about anything, making them very difficult to kill off. If you’re facing a cockroach infestation, don’t panic. These little bugs can be tricky to get rid of, but with the right tools, you can be sure they’ll be gone in no time.