Updated on April 24, 2023
We’ve talked about what happens to spiders in winter, but what about cockroaches?
It’s a question that many people ask, because sightings seem to drop for some while others report a bigger infestation in cold weather. The answer is not as straightforward as you might think, as it depends on various factors.
In fact, with 4,600 species out there (including termites), it’s hard to give a single answer to any question for this highly adaptive pest. Let’s take a look at how cockroaches react to the cold and whether this is an effective way to get rid of them.
Do Cockroaches Like the Cold?
When it comes to cold weather, cockroaches are not particularly fond of it. They are cold-blooded creatures and prefer warm, moist environments. However, this doesn’t mean that they cannot survive in cold weather as there have been cases where people have found a live cockroach in their refrigerator.
Cockroaches can live in cold weather but they do not like it. They tend to avoid cold temperatures and will seek out warm places to hide. This is why you may find them hiding in cracks and crevices during the winter months.
While they can survive in cold weather, roaches are more likely to die if exposed to extremely low temperatures for an extended period of time. Most adult roaches will die if exposed to temperatures below 0° F. However, nymphs are more likely to go into hibernation.
It’s important to note that cockroaches are not the only pests that can survive in cold weather. Other pests such as mice and rats can also adapt to cold temperatures and seek out warm places to hide. This is why it’s important to take preventative measures to keep your home pest-free during the winter months.
Can Roaches Survive During Cold Weather?
Before we get into the ways that cold affects roaches, let’s first look at how roach evolution has addressed the issue. Then, we’ll see what happens when they’re exposed to low temperatures.
Roach Anatomy and Physiology
Roaches are cold-blooded insects, which means their body temperature is regulated by the environment. They do not have the ability to generate their own body heat like warm-blooded animals.
A roach’s hard exoskeleton protects them from physical damage and dehydration and a simple respiratory system allows them to breathe through small tubes called tracheae.
Roaches also have a complex digestive system that allows them to digest a wide variety of foods but allows them to live for long periods without food.
Roach Adaptations to Cold Weather
These critters have adapted to survive in various environments, including cold weather. Some roaches even have the ability to enter a state of dormancy known as diapause, which allows them to conserve energy and survive through the winter.
Roaches can also seek shelter in warm places, such as buildings and homes, to avoid the cold.
How Cold is Too Cold for Roaches?
Even though cockroaches can survive in cold temperatures, they have a limit.
- When temperatures drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, roaches stop breeding.
- Under 15 degrees will be enough to kill many roaches
- If exposed to temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit for a long period of time, a dead roach is practically a guarantee.
What Happens to Roaches During Cold Weather?
In cold weather, roaches will become less active and seek shelter in warm places. They will slow down their metabolism and conserve energy to survive through the winter.
If they enter diapause, they can last longer than normal without food. However, if the temperature drops too low, the roaches may die or become immobilized.
Can Roaches Freeze to Death?
Yes, roaches can freeze to death if they are exposed to extremely low temperatures for an extended period of time. If the temperature drops below their survival limit, they may become immobilized and eventually die.
Roaches are also susceptible to dehydration in cold weather, which can lead to death.
Related: What Temperature Kills Mosquitoes?
Will Cockroaches Leave a House If It’s Cold?
Unfortunately, cockroaches won’t leave a warm house to go out into the cold. But what happens if you make the house itself cold?
Cockroaches will often simply fall into diapause if it gets too chilly. In some cases, they may leave the home if they think they’ll find somewhere warmer, but this is not always guaranteed.
Roaches generally will be willing to put up with the same span of temperatures as people will. They can survive brief exposure to temperatures as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit but will likely die if the temperature falls closer to zero or into the negatives. This is far colder than your freezer, so only homes far up in the northern latitudes will have a decent chance of freezing roaches.
It is also important to note that the behavior of cockroaches in cold weather is not uniform. Some species of cockroaches are more tolerant of cold temperatures than others.
For example, the German cockroach, which is one of the most common roach species found in homes, is less tolerant of cold temperatures than the American cockroach. Therefore, the likelihood of cockroaches leaving your home in cold weather may vary depending on the species present in your home.
Finally, keep in mind that making your home cold enough to encourage the roaches to leave may also make it too cold for your family. The temperatures would have to be colder inside than outside for them to consider leaving, and this might result in burst pipes if the weather is cold enough, as well as a number of other risks.
How to Prevent Roaches From Surviving in Cold Weather
If you want to prevent roaches from surviving in cold weather, there are a few things you can do:
- Seal all entry points: Roaches can enter your home through the smallest cracks and crevices. Seal all entry points with caulk or weather stripping before cold weather sets in.
- Clean regularly: Roaches are attracted to food and water sources. Clean up spills and crumbs immediately, and store food in airtight containers.
- Take out the trash: Don’t leave trash sitting in your home overnight. Take it out to the dumpster or trash can outside.
- Eliminate standing water: Roaches need water to survive. Fix any leaks and eliminate standing water in your home.
- Use baits and traps: If you have a roach problem, use baits, traps, and borax to eliminate them. Place them in areas where roaches are likely to be hiding, such as under sinks and behind appliances.
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