Why Are Roaches So Hard to Get Rid Of?

Why are cockroaches so hard to get rid of? We'll explain. Learn why the pests are hard to beat and the best ways to deal with an infestation.

Roach Infestations: Why It's So Hard to Eliminate Cockroaches

One of the most unpleasant, skin-crawling sights we can experience is a disgusting roach skittering across the countertop when we turn the light on in the morning. And if we are fortunate enough to find a shoe to crush it with before it hides, the sickening crunch will haunt us for the rest of the day. Also haunting us is the knowledge that it’s unlikely that a single roach lived alone in our house. When we see one, we know that there are many more hidden in the dark cracks and crevices of our home, and that means we are in for a long war with several lost battles before we finally win. If we win.

Why are roaches so hard to get rid of?

The first answer to that question can be found just through a quick glance at the known history of cockroaches. They are an ancient species dating back to the carboniferous era, around 320 million years ago. Clear fossil remains of roaches have been found coexisting with dinosaurs.

Part of their longevity stems from the fact that their body type encompasses almost all of the insect features that best ensure survival.

Why Roaches are Super-Survivors

Roaches have a hard exoskeleton which can withstand up to 300 times their own weight to protect them from damage. They can hide in the tiniest cracks and crevices because their tough exoskeletons are also flexible. They’ve adapted to live in nearly any type of climate. Roaches will eat anything to survive, including eating their own feces, vomit, and each other.

Another reason roach infestations are particularly hard to get rid of is because of their nocturnal nature. You may not be aware that you have roaches until they’ve already bred into a large colony. If you see roaches during daylight, it means that the colony is so large that some are being forced to search for food and water during times when fewer roaches are active as a means of competing.

It’s Hard to Get Rid of Roaches Because They are Super Breeders

Amazingly, female cockroaches can reproduce and make more females without needing the presence of a male. According to a research study out of Japan, some roach colony infestations are entirely female. The study followed a group of 15 virgin female roaches who went on to breed into a colony of over 1000 females, without ever needing a male. This makes roaches harder to get rid of because many insect-killing methods rely on hormone baits to attract males out of hiding and then kill them. This does nothing to get rid of an entirely female roach infestation. Furthermore, if males are present, a female only has to breed with a male once to be able to produce both male and female roaches for the rest of her life cycle.

Most types of female roaches carry their eggs with them, providing valuable protection to their young which most other insects do not offer. This further ensures the survival of their species.

Roaches reproduce very quickly, especially the super pesky german roaches. Each of their egg capsules can contain as many as 48 baby roaches. Then in less than two months, those baby roaches have reached maturity are capable of reproducing. This means a few roaches can rapidly turn into an infestation.

What Are Some Other Roach Survival Tactics?

One of the most unsettling aspects of the hardiness of roaches is the fact that a roach can live up to a week WITHOUT ITS HEAD. Yes, with the head removed, a roach can still breathe through several other body orifices and can even go on to breed until they eventually dehydrate because they can’t drink water.

While keeping your home clean and leaving no food out or open can help, that alone is not enough to convince roaches to move on to another location. They can wait it out until you slip up because they easily go 18 days without food. Water is more necessary to them, but it’s hard to dehydrate them to death because they can wait in sinks and tubs until a single drip revives them.

German roaches have become particularly immune to common pesticides, making them the most difficult type of roach to get rid of. According to studies, these roaches have actually adapted an aversion to sugar after several generations of being lured to their deaths by sugar baited poison traps.

Finally, according to a study by a renowned research university in Brussels Belgium (ULB) Roaches are capable of complex decision making, with each individual roach showing definite signs of unique personality. Unlike hive-type insects, colonies of roaches do not exhibit group thought. Instead, roaches are capable of making survival decisions on their own, outside of the group, making it difficult to lure or bait an entire colony to its death because one or two roaches may think outside the box and avoid being captured or killed.

With all of these interesting traits, it almost makes you feel bad to kill them, right? Unfortunately for us, roaches carry many types of bacteria that can make us sick, so whether or not we can have respect for their amazing survival adaptations, we still need to make sure they do not invade our homes and settle in to stay.

Resources— Reuters, Smithsonian.com, Roach Experts