Cockroaches, also know as roaches, are not a popular insect. Especially when found around the home. The first instinct might be panic because usually where you find one, there are many, many more. Despite their pest-like nature and behaviour, there are some fascinating features to roaches, especially their young.
Baby roaches have some incredibly unique features and abilities that we could only dream of having as humans.
In this guide, we take a look at some fascinating baby roaches facts, and answer some of the most frequently asked questions.
Baby Roaches Facts You Might Not Know
Baby Roaches Are Called Nymphs
Baby cockroaches start out as eggs, and once they hatch they are known as ‘nymphs‘. Despite males growing larger than females, both sexes are commonly known as just cockroaches or roaches for short.
A group of cockroaches is collectively called a ‘colony‘, and they live in a ‘nest‘. Colonies found in a home are often called an ‘infestation‘ because they are classed as a pest species.
An infestation is considered to be anything over 25 roaches, less than this would be considered a minor infestation. The problem is, it’s hard to know exactly how many there are!
Baby Roaches Go Through Several Molting Stages
Most (but not all) cockroaches are oviparous, meaning that their young grow in eggs outside of the mother’s body.
Through their entire adolescent stage, baby roaches are known as nymphs. However, there are several stages of molting that nymphs go through before they become mature, adult cockroaches.
Depending on the species, they will molt between 5 to 13 times growing a bit more at every stage. At each stage they will break out of their old skin and shell, as a soft, white fleshy roach and take several hours for their skin to harden and darken again. This happens over as little as 50 to 60 days for some but much longer for others. Some roaches take up to around two years to become fully mature!
The German cockroach for example, will molt up to seven times over a period of around 60-100 days before reaching maturity. Whereas Oriental cockroaches molt seven to ten times but don’t reach full maturity until between 300-800 days.
It’s only once they have matured into adults, and in the final stages of maturity, that those born with wings are able to fly.
Baby Roaches Are Incredibly Resilient
Despite their small size, both nymphs and adult roaches are incredibly resilient creatures. By the time they reach adulthood, their bodies are cased in a protective exoskeleton shell that can withstand pressures between 300 to 900 times their body weight. Each molt provides a stronger casing so eggs and small nymphs are less resilient than older nymphs and adults.
In addition to being very hard to crush, roaches can also survive without a head for up to a week, and submerged in water for up to 30 minutes. They don’t need their head to breathe, as they do this through tiny holes they have all over their bodies.
They do need their head to eat and drink however. They can survive without food for about a month but only last a week without water. They won’t live much longer than this without their head.
Some, such as the American Cockroach, can also regenerate lost limbs at any nymph stage, and can heal themselves internally by producing their own equivalent of antibiotics.
It is a myth that roaches are immune to radiation, but they can survive exposure to much higher levels than humans. Those in the vicinity of a nuclear blast would be vaporised like anything else. But those out of the blast zone would survive in much greater numbers than anything else.
Baby Roaches Can’t Fly
While nymphs are born with wings, they are not fully developed until they reach adulthood. So while they may look like they can fly, they can’t until they reach maturity. Also, while all of them have wings, not every species of roach can fly.
If You Spot One Baby Roach, There Are Probably Hundreds
Cockroach eggs are laid together in a protective casing called an ootheca. A cockroach egg casing can contain up to 12-16 roach eggs within. An adult roach can lay an egg casing around every 4 to 6 weeks depending on the species, and they take about a month to 40 days to incubate and hatch. They tend to repeat the cycle for around 10 months or for up to 13 cycles.
Between mother cockroach and her offspring, they can create up to an additional 800 roaches or more across the year. You can see from this how quickly a population of roaches can take hold.
Some Baby Roach Species Are Tiny
While cockroaches are all relatively small, some are smaller than others. Most common species are between 0.5 to 2 inches big. The smallest are the brown banded cockroaches that, even in adulthood only reach about half an inch in size if they are lucky. At the other end of the scale is the American Cockroach which will reach around 2 inches in adulthood.
The German cockroach nymphs are and their roach babies are one of the smallest by far. They can be incredibly difficult to find and identify because of their small size. German roach nymphs are only about the size of a grain of rice – millimeters big, similar to the average ant.
If You Kill One Roach, It Attracts More
A common trait of both baby and adult roaches, is that if you kill one, it will attract more. When they are squashed or crushed to death (which can be a hard task), they release a chemical called oleic acid. This acid has a pungent smell that attracts other roaches that are close by.
This can make it difficult when trying to eradicate an infestation, which is why the help of exterminators can be advantageous if the infestation is in your house. They can be quite destructive creatures if you do have a nest, and they are masters of survival. The moral of the story is, you should never squish a cockroach.
Baby Roach FAQs
How Many Baby Roaches Are Born In A Nest?
In every casing of eggs, an adult roach lays between 12-16 eggs on average. Roaches will nest anywhere but like moist, damp and dark places, out of sight. Within a colony of roaches, there can be anywhere from a few individuals to a few hundred individuals.
What Do Baby Roaches Eat?
Baby roaches are not picky eaters at all. They may even eat their old shed skin, or if food is scarce, they might even eat each other. They are partial for fermented or starchy foods, but will happily munch on rotting wood, fresh or decaying vegetables or organic matter.
How Quick Do Baby Roaches Grow?
Some species of roach nymph can reach adulthood in as little as 50 days, while others can take over 500 days. They molt several times as a nymph, growing larger each time until they are fully mature.
Where Do Baby Roaches Live?
Baby roaches are commonly found in cracks and tight dark spaces, alongside adult roaches. They live out of sunlight, under decking, in dark corners of garages, or under cupboards and in cupboards. They are particularly numerous in the tropics and subtropical areas but can live in extreme high and low temperatures, on every continent on earth.
Natural Predators Of Baby Roaches
Cockroaches and their baby nymphs, have many natural predators. From amphibians such as frogs and toads, to small rodents such as rats, mice and shrews. Other insects like beetles, praying mantis and centipedes or even arachnids commonly eat baby roaches.