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Can Cockroaches Really Survive Anything?Posted April 21, 2022

Most people consider cockroaches gross… for good reason! After that, the next thing people think about when cockroaches are mentioned is indestructibility. They can survive a nuclear war, right? Or can they? Let’s look at the myths and truth about what cockroaches can survive.

Can Cockroaches Really Survive a Nuclear Bomb?

The old urban legend says that cockroaches will be the lone survivors of a nuclear war. However, surviving a nuclear bomb has two components: the blast and the radiation.

Any cockroaches within the area of a nuclear blast would die because the heat and impact would be beyond what the cockroach could withstand. The radiation that would spread after the blast has a more complicated answer.

MythBusters studied the urban legend and confirmed that cockroaches would live longer than human beings will after a nuclear blast. That was true even when exposed to substantially higher levels. However, they do eventually die from the radiation. The time span depends upon the amount of radiation exposure.

However, Mark Elgar (an evolutionary biologist from the University of Melbourne) points out that the MythBusters segment was incomplete. It monitored the number of days that the cockroaches survived after the radiation exposure. What was not addressed was the question of whether the radiation-exposed cockroaches could produce viable eggs. If they could, the species potentially could survive even though individual cockroaches would die sooner than usual.

Can Cockroaches Survive a Fire?

Fire kills most living creatures. Cockroaches are no different. However, cockroaches have a strong exoskeleton, so if one managed to evade the fire quickly before that shell cracked, then it might survive.

That said, prolonged exposure to temperatures greater than 120 degrees Fahrenheit will kill a cockroach… so setting one on fire definitely will. An Australian Cockroach Control Manual even recommends prolonged heat exposure as a method for eradicating cockroaches from equipment in which they could easily hide – assuming that the item can withstand the high temperature.

How Do Cockroaches Survive Without a Head?

Cockroach biology is pretty much designed for survival. They breathe through small holes in each segment of their body (called spiracles), so they can continue respiration without a head. Because of their open circulatory system, clotting would seal their necks off. This combination means that they can survive several days after their head was chopped off. The inability to drink water and eat would kill them.

Call Fox Pest Control For All of Your Pest Issues

Cockroaches’ ability to survive and hide makes them a difficult pest to eliminate. If you think you have a cockroach infestation or just want peace of mind, contact Fox Pest Control for an inspection. For more information, schedule a consultation today.

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