Updated on April 24, 2023
There’s an old saying: The only things that will survive a nuclear winter are cockroaches and Twinkies. Well, Family Guy already proved that Twinkies can last forever, but what about roaches?
Just how long can cockroaches survive without food, and how long can they live overall? Let’s take a moment to look at what happens when a cockroach needs to withstand extended periods without sustenance.
Read Also: Can Cockroaches Survive in Cold Weather?
All roaches come from the order Blattodea, with the exception of termites. These incredibly resilient creatures have been around for millions of years and have developed some impressive survival techniques. There are approximately 4,600 species in total, but only 30 of those are known to invade our homes.
One of the reasons cockroaches seem to live forever is because they almost do, in insect terms. Some species have been known to live as long as four years in a lab!
Cockroaches are known to inhabit a wide range of environments. They typically prefer warm, dark, and damp spaces where they can find food and water nearby.
You might find them in kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and other areas with high humidity levels. They can also live in a variety of outdoor locations, such as under rocks or in woodpiles.
Roaches have a rather diverse diet, making it easy for them to find sustenance in any environment. They’ll eat anything from human food scraps to garbage, pet food, and even things like cardboard or glue.
This wide variety of potential food sources allows them to thrive even in homes with limited access to organic materials.
How Roaches Digest Food
The way roaches digest food is quite unique. These insects have both internal and external digestion systems, meaning they can break down food both inside and outside their bodies thanks to the digestive enzymes in their saliva, which helps break down food particles they come into contact with.
This efficient digestion process allows roaches to extract nutrients from a vast range of food sources and contributes to their resilience in various environments.
See Also: What Do Roach Droppings Look Like?
Survival Without Food
As cold-blooded insects, roaches have the ability to regulate their body temperature according to their surroundings. This adaptation helps them conserve energy, allowing them to survive longer without food.
On average, cockroaches can live for up to one month without food; however, they can only survive for one week without water, making them particularly attracted to humid and high-moisture environments.
Factors Affecting Survival
Different factors can influence how long cockroaches can live without food, including their species, size, and the availability of water. For example, larger species typically survive longer than smaller ones without food, while female cockroaches may be more resilient than their male counterparts.
Access to water is another critical factor for cockroach survival. Even a small drop of water can help cockroaches survive for weeks without food. Due to their need for hydration, you’ll often find these insects in humid or high-moisture areas around your home, such as basements and bathrooms.
There’s good reason why cockroaches are so common in states like Florida and California.
Cockroaches’ ability to survive without food is nothing short of incredible. Most cockroaches can live without food for up to one month, while some specific species and individuals may survive even longer.
For example, despite popular belief (some claim they can live up to 50 or even 300 days), a female German cockroach will live for about 13 days without food or water, while males will live eight days. But with water, they can both live up to 30 days.
Although their resilience is impressive, it’s important to note that most can only survive for about one week without water. Therefore, limiting their access to water sources in your home can be an effective way to curb their survival capabilities.
Effects of Starvation on Roaches
When food is scarce, roaches have adapted to survive for extended periods without nourishment. In response to starvation, a cockroach’s metabolism and heart rate slow down, and they stop producing new eggs. These adjustments allow roaches to survive for days or even weeks without food.
Roaches have additional survival strategies to cope with a lack of food. They can rely on their fat reserves for weeks, giving them a significant advantage in enduring food shortages. In extreme circumstances, cockroaches may even resort to cannibalism, further extending their ability to survive without food.
Why Are There Roaches in Rooms With No Food?
While it might come as a surprise, roaches can still find their way into your room even without any visible food. There are a couple good reasons why this can happen.
One good reason is that cockroaches are resourceful creatures that can find sustenance in unconventional sources. They might be attracted to items in your room that you wouldn’t consider to be food, such as paper, glue, hair, or even dead skin cells.
Keep in mind that roaches can be particularly drawn to areas with high humidity, so damp environments may also play a role in their presence.
Another reason is that cockroaches can sometimes enter your room in search of shelter or nesting grounds, regardless of the availability of food. They are drawn to dark, warm, and secluded spaces, making almost any room a potential target.
Roaches can easily enter your living space through small cracks, vents, or even hitching a ride on your belongings.
See Also: Why Finding Dead Roaches Isn’t Always a Good Thing
Will Roaches Go Away If There Is No Food?
Eliminating food sources in your home might seem like a logical solution to get rid of roaches. However, it’s important to understand that roaches are resilient insects, and their survival doesn’t solely depend on the availability of food in your surroundings.
They can survive for an extended period without food, making this approach less effective than you might think.
As already mentioned, cockroaches have the ability to go without food for up to a month. This impressive survival skill is due to their capacity to extract nutrients from unconventional sources like glue or raw meat.
To successfully keep roaches away from your home, you’ll want to employ a comprehensive strategy, which may include:
- Regularly cleaning and vacuuming to eliminate food crumbs and debris
- Sealing cracks and crevices, to prevent entry and hiding spots
- Properly storing food in sealed containers
- Fixing water leaks, to remove their access to water sources
- Consulting with a pest control professional to ensure a thorough treatment
Remember that roaches are persistent insects with remarkable survival skills. Relying solely on removing their food sources won’t guarantee their elimination.
Instead, combine multiple strategies to create a hostile environment that deprives them of food, water, and shelter. In doing so, you increase your chances of winning the battle against these unwelcome guests.
How Long Can Roaches Survive Without Water?
Although roaches can survive long periods without food, they typically need water more frequently. Since they are cold-blooded insects, they have a unique biology that makes them more dependent on water than food. Generally, these pesky insects can only stick it out without water for about a week.
It’s worth noting that roaches don’t necessarily require a significant water source to survive. Even a single drop of water can be enough to help them last for several weeks. This is one of the reasons they can be challenging to eliminate from your living space.
Here are some factors that can influence a roach’s ability to survive without water:
- Species: Some species of roaches are more adaptable and can last longer without water than others.
- Environmental conditions: Temperature and humidity play a significant role in determining how long a roach can survive without water.
- Age: Younger roaches may require more water than adult ones, as they are still developing and growing.
Cutting off access to humidity and other sources of moisture will cut a cockroach’s ability to survive to only a quarter of what it would be if they didn’t have food. However, their ability to take advantage of the tiniest amount has often led to people believing roaches can last for more than a month when they don’t have access to either food or water.
Understanding this and how moisture can allow a cockroach to go longer without food is an important factor that isn’t discussed often enough.
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