Thursday, February 15, 2007

Life Cycle Of A Cockroach

Hawaii is filled with cockroaches, flying over our heads in the night and getting into our cookie jars if we leave the lid off. Residents of Hawaii must constantly fight the battle against the cockroaches as they weasle their way into our luggage, cars, and homes. Often, I see more than one form of cockroach...some are very small and look very different from the huge flying ones, and then occasionally I see those creepy looking little egg sacks hanging out in the corner of an unused object. This brought forth the interesting question....What is the life cycle of a cockroach???
Wow, there's even a site that describes the whole cycle with pictures...totally cool.
I guess to learn the life cycle of a cockroach we must first learn a bit about insects. Insects are Arthropods (their classification), which means that they have jointed legs. All insects have jointed legs and bodies. Insect bodies have 3 segments, 6 legs, and a set of antennae. Most insects go through metamorphosis, which is how they completely change their color, size, and shape as they go through their life cycle. Some insects have four phases of development (complete metamorphosis) and others have three (simple or incomplete metamorphosis).

The cockroach has three stages of development, or incomplete metamorphosis. The egg, the nymph, and the adult. A dragonfly also has these three stages of development!
The Life Cycle of a Cockroach:
Cockroaches lay ugly little brown egg cases that look like combs with a bulging handle. Each egg case contains 16-40 fertilized eggs that are laid by the female cockroach in dark, warm and humid places. This is why we commonly find them in small crevases in cupboards. This egg case, called an ootheca keeps the eggs from drying out. In Hawaii, these egg cases are deposited all over the place, but other types of cockroaches carry them until they hatch (ours are more of a nuisance). The eggs take 6-7 weeks to hatch, so if you see one of these I recommend getting rid of it right away! They can also lay about 8 cases a year. Female cockroaches can produce 5-30 of these cases in their lifetime, which means you could have up to 120 of those little buggers running around your house due to one cockroach!
Once the egg hatches after 6-7 weeks, a cute little soft, white nymph emerges, which quickly hardens and turns brown after exposure to air. These little buggers don't have wings yet so they wont be flying onto your face in the middle of the night in this stage (can you tell I've had a frightful experience with 'em?!). These little nymphs only have simple eyes (not compound), and their bodies are protected by a waxy outer skin called the cuticle. Before the nymphs become adults, they'll shed their outer skin (moult) about 8 times...meaning that you'll be eating cockroach skin in your cereal if you don't close that bag tightly! Ewww... And each time they shed their skin they become more like the adult (hence the tiny little nymphs and big huge ones we see).

At last, after about 9-13 months, the cockroach is capable of flying onto my face in the night. It is fully developed and can fly (in Hawaii) and run all over the house super-fast. There are 18 different species of cockroaches in Hawaii. The most common, also known as "da B52 Bomber Type" is the American Cockroach. These guys can live up to five years, and can live without they're heads for up to a month, so don't go thinking that the awesome karate chop guillotine with your butcher's knife worked!! They'll also eat just about anything, including the paste on your envelopes! Yuck.
Here's a great local opinion about the cockroach called "Fear da Roach." It's pretty funny.
There's a thousand different websites with amazing facts and abilities of cockroaches with I encourage you to google and check out. So there you have it, the complete life cycle of a cockroach!
Oh yeah, and check out this crazy new idea...cockroach birth control, which involves more gene alterations...hmmm....

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


That sounds so scary!! I live in Dallas,TX, and we get 1-2" roaches here. Some can fly, and they totally freak me out. I definitely have a phobia towards those things!! However, I never see them anymore due to the wonderful house gecko!! We released them outside of our home, and within a year, they had multiplied, and the roaches were gone!! I wonder if the house gecko would be affective in Hawaii with the bigger sized bombers?