How long do cockroaches live?

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Cockroaches are one of the most common pests that infest homes and contaminate your food. But no matter how unreachable and fast breeding these insects may seem, they have a time limit. Like all other insect pests that exist on the planet, cockroaches have a time span. 

That notwithstanding, several factors determine how long cockroaches live. Their life span relies on the availability of food and water, the individual cockroach, the life cycle, the environment, and the species. Some species of cockroaches live longer than others, for instance, adult female roaches live for about 180 days while adult male cockroaches live for about 160 days. 

Cockroaches have three development stages; egg, nymph, and adult. Female cockroaches usually lay capsule-like egg cases called ootheca. One ootheca houses about 16 to 40 eggs, depending on the species.

READ MORE: Do cockroaches lay eggs?

Stages of cockroach development

Cockroaches undergo a series of stages before developing into adults. These stages can be referred to as instars. Because cockroaches lay ootheca instead of just eggs, they could have about 10 – 40 cockroaches coming out of the one egg case. When in this case, the eggs develop into larvae before they hatch into cockroach nymphs.

This is the reproduction stage of their life cycle. It plays an important role in their survival and how they keep their species from going extant.


This is the first stage of this process. Because cockroaches are nocturnal, they lay their egg cases in dark, hidden, humid areas. These egg cases house about 10 – 40 eggs depending on the species. The egg of the cockroaches is in the ootheca. Most cockroaches stick these egg cases to hidden tough surfaces while others can carry this egg case in them for a while before they lay them. 

Usually, the egg stage takes about one to two months before hatching occurs but can last from 14 to 100 days; based on the species and climate. Eggs can develop quickly at a higher temperature. 

In some cases, female cockroaches layover 300 eggs in a year. This is most common among German cockroaches. 


When the ootheca hatches, tiny baby cockroaches crawl out from them. These cockroaches are called a nymph. These immature cockroaches have soft, white bodies which later change to brown when they are fully grown.

During the nymph stage, the baby cockroach undergoes several molting phases and grows a little after each phase, shedding old skin. The skin changes from the whitish, soft body to the hard bodies after each molt.

The nymph stage could last for about two to three months. Cockroach nymphs can be harmful to us and can contaminate our foods as well. If you notice any shells or skin sheds around your home, there is an existing infestation, quickly get rid of them. 


Here the young cockroach has undergone other stages into an adult and is ready for reproducing if the roach is a female. Nymphs, after their final molt phase, enter adulthood and will reproduce to continue their life cycle.

Cockroaches have rapid breeding habits and because several cockroaches can come out of an egg case, it is important to tackle them as early as possible to avoid major damages in our home. 

READ MORE: Can Cockroaches Survive in Water? 

Where do cockroaches live?

To know how long cockroaches live, it is also important to know where they live. Cockroaches are drawn to a dirty environment.

They live in dark humid places and you will find them just about anywhere they feel comfortable hiding. You can find them around wet areas like refrigerators, toilets, kitchen sinks, bookcases, dressing rooms, clothes, and garbage areas.

If cockroaches live in their natural habitat or dark, humid places when they infest your home, they will live for a long period until you are capable of getting rid of them. 

How long does an individual roach live?

Unlike the ant species, cockroaches do not have queens nor do they live as a colony. They are nocturnal and comprise only of the male cockroach, the female cockroach, and the cockroach nymph which develops into an adult cockroach. 

The life span of the male and female cockroaches differ. Female cockroaches live longer than male cockroaches. Female cockroaches have a lifespan of about 180 days; that is about 36 weeks after development. These are heavily dependent on the species of cockroaches. Some female cockroaches can live for as long as two years. 

Male cockroaches on the other hand can live for about 160 days, after which they die. 

Different cockroach species and their life span

There are about 4600 species of cockroaches that exist in the world. They have similarities and differences that make them unique. A few that are often common in your home will be discussed here. German cockroaches, American cockroaches, and Oriental cockroaches. 

1. How long do German cockroaches live?

how long do roaches live

German cockroaches are typically brown-colored. They are the most common cockroaches that readily infest your home and they have the highest reproductive rate compared to other species.

The female German cockroach lays about 20 to 40 eggs in one ootheca. The average incubation period of this species is about 28 days after which the egg case is hatched. It is estimated that a German cockroach can lay up to five ootheca in her lifetime.

German cockroaches undergo about six to seven molting stages before fully developing into adulthood. For German cockroaches, the male and female are said to live for less than 200 days. 

2. How long do American cockroaches live?

American cockroaches are known to live in tropical regions. They are the largest house-infesting cockroaches. A female American roach can lay about fourteen to sixteen eggs in an ootheca and its lifetime can lay from six to fourteen ootheca/ egg cases.

The egg case of this species is dark brown and about 38 mm long. The American cockroach egg case is larger than that of the German and Oriental cockroach egg case respectively.

When the American cockroach nymph hatches, it undergoes about 10 to 13 molting phases before becoming an adult cockroach.

The time for these egg cases to incubate is about forty-four days if averaged. For these species of cockroaches, both males and females have a different life span. The adult female can live for about 700 days while an adult male can live for about 362 days. 

3. How long can Oriental cockroaches live?

Oriental cockroaches live in cold areas and can adapt to colder climates with a temperature between 68 – 84 degrees Fahrenheit. Oriental cockroaches like other species have a similar life cycle.

The female Oriental cockroach lay about 16 eggs in an egg case. In her lifetime, she produces about eight ootheca or egg cases which when approximated is about 128 offspring in her life span.

The female oriental cockroach can live for about 180 days while the male oriental can live for about 160 days after fully developing. 

READ MORE: How Long Can Cockroaches Live Without Food?

How long do cockroaches live in your house?

As has been mentioned earlier, cockroaches can live in your home for as long as you want them to; breeding rapidly in increasing numbers, contaminating your foods, spreading diseases, causing a nuisance, and visiting you in your sleep.

They may on some occasions, feed on you if you have food particles in your fingernails and there is a heavy infestation. Cockroaches will feel welcomed until you make them feel otherwise.

The length of time they have in your house is solely dependent on you. You determine if they live or die by either getting rid of them or giving them free will to do as they please. Get rid of them and free yourself from the shackles of these insects. 

How long do cockroaches live without a head?

One interesting fact to note is that cockroaches do not bleed. Before you get too excited that cutting off the head of a cockroach will lead to instant death, you should know that cockroaches can live without their heads; well for about seven days.

If you see a headless cockroach running around, know that that cockroach will not die immediately because cockroaches can survive without their brains and do not breathe through their mouth or nose. Cockroaches breathe through the tiny holes in their bodies.

A cockroach can survive for only seven days or less without a head. This is because the cockroach uses its head to feed and drink water and cockroaches depend more on the water for their survival. A headless cockroach can survive without a head but will die regardless due to lack of food and water. 

How long do cockroaches live without air?

Cockroaches possess tiny holes in their segmented bodies with which they breathe. Contrary to popular beliefs, they do not breathe through their heads. The holes in their bodies are called spiracles. 

A cockroach can hold its breath for about forty minutes and this makes it possible for them to survive without air for some minutes. Assuming they are in an airtight environment, they can live without air but for only a few minutes after which they die. Say 45 – 50 minutes. 

How long do cockroaches live in a plastic bag?

Cockroaches will hardly ever be found eating a plastic bag except the bag is housing the food they are in search of. If a cockroach is found in a plastic bag, it will not suffocate because it can hold its breath for about 40 minutes and can survive on the little oxygen the plastic bag can give.

That said, cockroaches can live in a plastic bag for about five to seven days before they die. They die mostly due to dehydration. If the plastic bag is light, the cockroach can find its way out by biting through the bag. Depending on the amount of plastic the cockroach digests, it can die from it but not immediately. 

So cockroaches are not attracted to plastic bags but are attracted to paper bags, it is a source of food for them. If you place a cockroach in a paper bag, be sure that you have created a feast for these nasty critters. 

To kill a cockroach faster using a plastic bag, you can place the sealed plastic bag with cockroaches in a refrigerator, within three to five days, these cockroaches will die. Most cockroaches cannot survive in temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, it kills them pretty fast.


Cockroaches are one of the oldest insects in the world, they can run up to three miles per hour and are fast breeding. These among other fascinating facts is why these species of insects are harmful to humans. They contaminate foods as quickly as they run and are vectors for diseases. Even the sheds of cockroach nymphs can cause allergies and breathing problems.

Cockroaches can live for a long time with you in your home if you do not take drastic measures to get rid of them. Keep your environment clean always to prevent them from becoming house guests and breeding hundreds of young cockroaches for the continuation of their lifecycle in your home. 


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