Can Cockroaches Climb Walls?

Have you ever noticed a cockroach on the wall or ceiling and wondered how it got there? Can they climb or have they flown up there?

The ability of cockroaches to climb walls depends on the cockroach species, however, the majority do and are capable of climbing different types of surfaces, including walls, ceilings, countertops, and furniture.

Some cockroach species are better climbers than others. Cockroaches with larger wings, such as the oriental cockroach, are poor climbers in comparison to species like the German and American cockroaches.

Cockroaches climb walls and other surfaces for a variety of reasons, including:

  • To escape predators
  • To find shelter
  • To gain access to food

How Do Cockroaches Walk on Walls?

Cockroaches’ ability to climb is due, in part, to the structure of their legs. Cockroaches have six legs and each has a tarsus, which makes up six climbing axes.

Cockroaches climb walls by utilizing setae (miniature hairs) that cover their body and legs. Each of the cockroach’s legs is covered with hundreds of these microscopic hairs, called spatulae, which allow cockroaches to cling to surfaces and even ceilings.

While cockroaches lack the ability to grasp objects, they are able to climb walls because of these microscopic hairs.

The adhesion mechanisms cockroaches use are the same found in geckos, but cockroach setae are much denser, allowing cockroaches to cling tighter to surfaces.

Can cockroaches climb walls?

Why Don’t Cockroach’s Feet Stick to Walls?

Scientists believe it is because cockroaches’ feet are not large enough for strong intermolecular forces to form between the surfaces.

In addition, the cockroach’s body has a thin layer of waxy coating which prevents it from sticking.

When cockroaches walk on a wall or ceiling, they move their legs in a manner that allows them to maximize the number of setae touching the surface, allowing cockroaches to walk upside down.

To get a cockroach off a wall or ceiling, you will have better luck using a steamer or blow dryer rather than spraying chemicals on the cockroach.

The cockroach’s waxy coating can be melted by steam and it will be forced to let go of the wall or ceiling.

On the other hand, cockroaches are capable of returning to a surface after being sprayed with chemicals, making it difficult for chemicals to prevent cockroaches from climbing walls.

Can Cockroaches Climb On Ceilings?

Cockroaches climb on ceilings as well as walls. Like cockroaches that climb up walls, cockroaches can gain access to ceiling spaces through voids in construction or by climbing up the sides of cabinets.

Cockroaches are also able to walk on ceilings due to their rapid inversion ability. They are able to quickly switch their bodies from a vertical or horizontal stance to their undersides with no loss of momentum. Cockroaches have the ability to scale walls swiftly and flip to their underside once they reach the limit between the wall and ceiling.

Can Cockroaches Climb Curtains?

Yes, cockroaches can climb curtains and other similar vertical surfaces such as vertical blinds.

Cockroaches are able to climb fabric or any other type of porous surface. To cockroaches, the fabric is more like a ladder than a wall; cockroaches will find their way up the material via the fibers and openings.

Can Cockroaches Climb Onto Beds?

Cockroaches can and do often climb onto beds and other sleeping surfaces while we sleep.

When cockroaches invade a home, they typically hide in areas where there is little activity. This includes wall voids or attics. At night, cockroaches will move into more populated areas such as bedrooms to seek food and water sources.

Once cockroaches reach sleeping areas, they may be found on pillows, bedding, or even inside spaces within your mattress.

Surfaces Cockroaches Can Climb

Cockroaches have a variety of climbing adaptations, some of which include the ability to scale walls. Some species are better climbers than others. As an example, compared to German and American cockroaches, Oriental roaches are poor climbers.

Unfortunately, many of the materials utilized in residential construction, such as wood, drywall, brick, and stone, provide cockroaches with a plethora of gripping surfaces allowing them to climb vertically and walk upside down on a ceiling.

Cockroaches can also climb most household interiors including:

  • Curtains
  • Vertical blinds
  • Fabric, including bedding and clothing
  • Cupboards
  • Furniture

Surfaces Cockroaches Cannot Climb

Cockroaches can’t climb smooth surfaces with little to no imperfections. Cockroaches will not be able to scale the following:

  • Smooth plastic
  • Glossy paint
  • Glass
  • Mirrors
  • Porcelain
  • Polished metal
  • Marble
  • Granite

Do Cockroaches Poop On Walls?

Cockroaches produce an oily, smelly excrement they deposit anywhere and everywhere as they move along.

It is this cockroach poop that glistens on walls and leaves cockroach footprints in its wake.

Cockroaches are said to leave cockroach footprints in their cockroach poop.

Cockroach poop glistens on walls because cockroach excrement contains cockroach bodily fluid. This cockroach bodily fluid is watery in nature and it comes out of cockroaches’ behinds when the cockroaches poop or excrete. In this manner, cockroach poop glistens on cockroach feet and cockroach legs as cockroaches walk.

Cockroach hard droppings are comparable to those of rodents in terms of appearance. As a result, determining whether you’re dealing with a cockroach or rodent infestation might be difficult. Cockroach droppings, unlike mouse droppings, look like black pepper or ground coffee. They don’t have pointed ends, are cylindrical in shape, and have ridges running lengthwise along the cockroach poop.

Can Cockroaches Eat Through Walls?

While cockroaches are good at finding their way around, they don’t have sharp teeth to chew solid items. If anything blocks their path, cockroaches usually give up very quickly.

Cockroaches can’t eat through bricks or concrete. They can only enter your home by squeezing through tiny holes and cracks in the wall.

There are cockroach species that can chew through some types of wood, but it would be very difficult for them to chew their way through a wall made from concrete, metal, tile, etc.

Cockroaches might get through softer, more vulnerable materials if the wall is constructed from them. Remember that cockroaches eat just about everything. They can gnaw through the cardboard with ease.

Is a Cockroach On the Wall a Sign of an Infestation?

One or two cockroaches on the wall may indicate a serious infestation. Cockroaches usually stay close to their hiding places. If you see one crawling along the wall, its nest is probably not far away. Many more cockroaches are likely to be hidden nearby if there is a nest.

Cockroaches are nocturnal insects, which means they’re most active at night. Unless it’s hungry or has been forced out of its nest, a cockroach is unlikely to be spotted on the walls during the day.

Cockroach climbing a wall

How to Keep Cockroaches Off Walls and Ceilings

There are a few methods to prevent cockroaches from climbing walls and ceilings. The first step is to limit cockroach entry points by repairing any cracks or other possible areas that cockroaches could enter through.

It’s also important to remember that cockroaches will try to hide as close to their food source as possible.

Keeping cockroach food sources away from cockroach entry points will help prevent cockroaches from entering your home in the first place.

To avoid cockroaches coming up through floors, sealed flooring is another important step.

The final step is to eliminate any cockroaches that have already entered your home.

For cockroaches that have already entered your home, there are cockroach baits and cockroach pesticides available to eliminate cockroaches inside your home.

The cockroach pesticide and cockroach bait can be placed in areas where cockroaches hide such as wall voids and under cabinets.

Once the cockroach pesticide or cockroach bait is placed in these cockroach hiding spaces, cockroaches will come into contact with the cockroach pesticide and cockroach bait which will kill them.

Place the cockroach pesticide and cockroach baits in out-of-the-way areas where children and pets cannot access them. Remember, even if a cockroach is killed, cockroach eggs will hatch into cockroaches unless the cockroach nest is eliminated.


Cockroaches can and do often climb walls, ceilings, beds, and other surfaces while we sleep.

When cockroaches invade a home, they typically hide in areas where there is little activity. This includes wall voids, behind appliances, and within the cockroach nest.

While cockroaches can climb up to a vertical surface, cockroaches cannot climb smooth surfaces with little to no imperfections.

To avoid cockroaches, it’s important to eliminate cockroach entry points and cockroach hiding spaces by using cockroach pesticides and cockroach baits inside your home. By doing so, you will then be able to deter cockroaches from entering your home in the first place.

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