how many legs do cockroaches have?

Cockroaches may be creepy, crawly and nearly impossible to eradicate from your home, but these resilient insects have some admirable qualities. They are among the most hardy pests and can thrive almost anywhere humans do. The American cockroach, for example, can even live in areas with humidity as high as 80 percent and temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Cockroaches have also thrived alongside humans throughout history. In fact, there are records of cockroaches dating back to ancient Egypt. Even today, they’re among the top 10 most commonly found pest species around the globe. There are more than 4,000 different species of cockroaches found all over the world. But many homeowners know very little about them beyond their repulsive reputation as pests that breed prolifically and will eat anything if given a chance. Let’s take a closer look at what makes cockroaches so unique – and why you should be thankful for these resilient creatures..

What’s so amazing about cockroaches?

Let’s start with the basics: There are more than 4,000 different species of cockroaches found all over the world. But over 60 percent of those species aren’t pests – they’re actually helpful to humans. Cockroaches are among nature’s most prolific recyclers. They feed on organic matter such as decaying leaves, plants and other decaying matter, which is great for enriching soil. They can also consume harmful organic matter like bacteria, fungi, viruses and decaying organic matter. Cockroaches can be very beneficial in gardens, feeding on weeds and other growing plants. But when they venture indoors, they bring with them all the organic matter they’ve consumed. This can cause problems if the organic matter contains harmful bacteria.

Why are cockroaches so hardy?

Cockroaches have been around for about 320 million years, according to the Smithsonian Institution. That’s about 100 million years before the first dinosaurs appeared. They’ve survived many changes in the environment – including some that would be catastrophic for other insects. The secret to these resilient pests’ long-term survival likely lies in the fact that they can survive on very little. Cockroaches are primarily nocturnal and prefer warm, humid environments. They thrive in places that are generally considered unfit for other creatures. Their small size also helps them live through extreme weather conditions and other changes. Smaller bodies have less surface area and are therefore less vulnerable to extreme heat or cold.

Why are cockroaches so good at adapting?

Cockroaches have survived so long because they can adapt to almost any new environment. Because they live where humans live, they’ve developed the ability to thrive in buildings with a wide range of temperatures and humidity. They can be found in forests and deserts as well – but not as frequently as in cities. Cockroaches can even withstand radiation that would kill other creatures. They can even survive being submerged under water for as long as 30 minutes. While underwater, they can slow down their metabolism to almost a stop. They can hold their breath for up to 40 minutes, too, before needing to surface for air.

6 Incredible Adaptations That Help Cockroaches Survive

Cockroaches have such an amazing ability to survive because of six key adaptations. Endurance – Cockroaches can withstand temperatures as low as 5 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit. They’re also able to survive in extremely high or low humidity, even in areas where the humidity is as high as 80 percent. Ease of reproduction – The female American cockroach, one of the most common types, can produce up to 8,000 offspring in only one year. That’s why it’s so important to get professional help when you have a cockroach infestation. Growth rate – Young cockroaches grow quickly, reaching adulthood in only about six months. Habitat – Cockroaches can survive in most climates. They prefer warm and humid environments, but they can also be found in cooler climates. They thrive in urban areas and can be difficult to eradicate. Digestive system – Cockroaches have a simple digestive system that enables them to consume almost anything, including plants, other insects, paper, glue and even gasoline. Metabolic rate – Cockroaches have a low metabolic rate, surviving on very little food and water.

Roach exoskeletons have built-​in adhesion!

Cockroaches’ hard, protective outer shells are called exoskeletons. They’re the same kind of exoskeleton that’s found on crustaceans like shrimps. This means that the hard, protective outer shells of cockroaches are actually connected to their bodies. Cockroaches use this structure to create adhesion. That means they’re able to stick to almost any surface – even if it’s wet. That’s why cockroaches can be found in showers and bathtubs. And it’s also why they’re able to survive household flooding.


Cockroaches have been around for 320 million years and have survived some of the most extreme changes to our planet. That’s because these resilient pests have developed an impressive ability to adapt to almost any environment. Their small size, quick growth rate and low metabolic rate all make them hard to eradicate. But they also have great benefits – they’re able to recycle decaying matter to enrich soil and consume harmful bacteria, fungi and viruses. Cockroaches have such an amazing ability to survive because of six key adaptations. Their hard, protective exoskeletons are connected to their bodies and create adhesion. Their small size and quick growth rate make them hard to eradicate. And their simple digestive systems enables them to consume almost anything, including plants, other insects, paper, glue and even gasoline.