Home Pests | Cockroaches

Can Cockroaches Fly?

Have you ever wondered “can cockroaches fly?” when dealing with these little pests. They are unpleasant enough to have around without wings, but the idea that they might also have wings can be a bit of a creepy one, because that lends them access to so many more parts of the home.

The answer depends a bit on the species of cockroach. Many adult cockroaches do have wings, but a lot are poor fliers or cannot fly. There are some strong fliers, however, and in the US, Wood cockroaches, Smokybrown cockroaches, and Asian cockroaches are among the common flying species. Others, such as the American cockroach, will glide rather than fly.

Which Kinds Of Cockroach Can Fly?

As mentioned, many kinds of cockroaches don’t fly at all, even if they have wings in their adult form. They will generally get about by scuttling, not by taking to the air, so a flying cockroach isn’t something you need to be too concerned about.

Even for the cockroaches that can fly, flight is a relatively rare way of moving from A to B. They do not tend to be very good fliers, so it’s easier for them to stick to the ground.

Almost all adult cockroaches have wings, but many do not fly. There are more than 3,000 kinds of cockroach in the world, but only about 70 species in the US. Of these, the most common fliers include:

  • The Australian cockroach
  • The Pennsylvania Wood cockroach
  • The Smokybrown cockroach
  • The Asian cockroach
  • The American cockroach
  • The male of the Brown-banded cockroach
  • The Cuban cockroach

And if you’d like a “reassuring” pest that at least cannot take to the air, the German cockroach (one of the commonest in American households) does not fly. The Madagascar hissing cockroach and the female of the Oriental species both lack wings too.

It might not be much comfort, but it’s better than nothing! So, in answer to “can cockroaches fly,” some can!

Why Can’t All Cockroaches Fly?

You might be wondering why these insects have wings they cannot use. This is actually not uncommon in the insect world, and essentially, a lot of cockroaches are just too big for their wings to lift them. This is partly why some only glide, using their wings to slow a fall, but incapable of lifting themselves clear of the ground.

However, some large cockroaches can still fly – it just depends on the proportion of their wings to their body mass. If their wings have not grown to match their bodies, they won’t be able to fly.

Cockroaches don’t have a lot of need to fly, which is why many cannot. They are extremely fast runners, so they can travel very quickly from place to place without expending the energy it takes to get into the air.

They are clumsy and slow once in the air, too. This makes them easy prey for bats and birds. They become more visible and more vulnerable than they are when on the ground, and they cannot hide themselves in crevices and cracks.

On the whole, therefore, cockroaches rarely need to fly, and some have evolved bigger bodies that prevent them from doing so. In some cases, the male or female of a species can fly, while their counterpart cannot.

When Do Cockroaches Usually Fly?

It’s important to note that cockroaches depend on the external temperature to regulate their body temperature (they are ectothermic). They cannot heat or cool themselves, which means that if their environment gets uncomfortable for them, they will want to leave it as quickly as possible.

This is when they are most likely to take to the air. Cockroaches prefer to live in temperatures between 75° F and 85° F. If temperatures rise above this, they will often fly on their search for a cooler spot.

Because cockroaches can’t keep themselves cool or warm, it’s important for them to be able to seek a new environment quickly, and this is when they usually use their wings. They will fly down into cool, damp spots to escape the warmth in most cases.

Of course, cockroaches will fly at other times too, but it is rarer. In general, they use their feet, rather than their wings. You might occasionally see a cockroach fly at night, attracted to the brightness of the overhead lights.

Why Else Do Cockroaches Fly?

Cockroaches usually fly to escape high temperatures, but there are a couple of other reasons for them to take to the air. One of the most obvious ones is that they wish to escape danger. Cockroaches have many natural predators, and a flight will sometimes help them escape when running might not.

 If a cockroach feels threatened, it will flutter up into the air or glide down to escape the threat. This is the most common cause of flight that you are likely to see, especially if you alarm your unwelcome guests or your pets take an interest in them.

The next reason is reproduction. Some cockroaches will fly long distances to try and find a mate during their mating season. They are particularly drawn in by lights at this time, which may attract them into your home if you leave windows open and lights on.

You may wish to put screens on your windows and keep doors closed at night during the summer, especially if you live in a rural community where these insects are more likely to be found in the wild.

Another possible explanation for flight is to access food or shelter. That means you shouldn’t assume your high up surfaces are safe from cockroaches; most flying species will be able to easily access these spaces.

Avoid leaving food out, even high up, and make sure you clean and disinfect all these surfaces if you think you have cockroaches in your home. Don’t assume that they are out of reach just because they are high up!

Will Cockroaches Fly At Me?

Cockroaches don’t fly at people deliberately, no. However, be aware that they are generally quite poor fliers, and do not have much aerial control. This may mean that they seem to fly directly at you, whereas in fact they have usually just lost control and are not able to direct their flight path properly.

Often, if you approach a cockroach, it will panic and fly in the wrong direction. Try not to panic yourself. It is not aiming to attack you; it is just out of control.

Many cockroaches also only glide, rather than flying. They will use their wings to steady their descent from – for example – the top of the bookcase to the floor. Often, they do this if they are too hot, but they may do it at other times too.

On the whole, no, cockroaches won’t fly straight at you. However, if it happens, it is probably because you are standing near a light they are trying to fly toward, or they have lost control and are veering toward you by mistake.

Can Flying Cockroaches Bite?

Cockroaches can bite, but don’t panic that they are going to be munching on you at every opportunity. Cockroaches are not aggressive and will very rarely approach or attack people. 

Although flying cockroaches can bite, they won’t be flying up to attack you at random, and they won’t fly onto your bed while you are sleeping in most cases. You don’t need to worry about being nibbled while you rest.

Cockroaches only go after humans in very extreme circumstances, when they have no other sources of food. This usually happens when the infestation is extremely serious and you have cut off their food sources.

They will also usually only eat dead, calloused skin, fingernails, or eyelashes. These, they see as sources of food, and they may try and consume them. It is quite rare that they will bite your skin, but they are capable of puncturing human flesh if they do.

If you’re wondering what a cockroach bite is like, the answer is that you may feel a slight pinch or nip, but it won’t hurt much. Although cockroaches have very strong jaws relative to their size, they cannot bite people hard.

A cockroach bite is usually about 4 mm wide and often leaves a pink, slightly raised lump. They differ from bed bug bites in that they are usually just a single bite, rather than a cluster, and they are considerably bigger.

A cockroach bite may be slightly uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t itch like a mosquito bite. The bites aren’t dangerous and have no toxins to cause itching or rashes.

On the whole, you will very rarely be bitten by a cockroach, and bites are not something that you particularly need to be concerned with.

Diseases are a much more dangerous aspect of having cockroaches in your home, and flying cockroaches may spread these particularly effectively because they can access all the different levels. Flightless cockroaches may not be able to get so high up in the home (although many do climb efficiently).

How Far Can Cockroaches Fly?

Although it varies from species to species, some cockroaches can fly surprisingly well. The strongest fliers can sometimes manage up to a hundred feet at a time, although they can’t gain this much vertical height.

They can usually fly to about the height of a tree, sometimes a little less. However, they will have no problem getting from one end of your home to the other – provided they don’t crash!

You shouldn’t assume that the big cockroaches can’t get this sort of aerial movement, either. Some of the big cockroaches, such as the American cockroach, can fly for considerable distances despite being more than two inches long.

Many cockroaches can’t fly for long distances at all, or can only glide because they are unable to gain much height. If they have some height to launch from, they can travel much further.

How far they can and will fly depends on both the species and the circumstances, but don’t underestimate their capacity to take to the air and cover large distances.

How Can I Get Rid Of Flying Cockroaches?

Cockroaches can be a challenge to get rid of. They are notoriously resilient and if they can fly, they are more likely to be able to get into hard-to-reach spots that even pest control experts may struggle to access.

The first thing to do if you realize you have a cockroach infestation is to put away all food and all traces of food. Clean the house thoroughly. Sweep up dust and dirt, which cockroaches enjoy, and wipe down all surfaces with a mild disinfectant.

You should also deal with any damp spots. Cockroaches need a source of moisture and dripping taps or leaking pipes provide this. If you remove the water sources, the cockroaches will have to go elsewhere in order to drink.

However, often you will need pest control to deal with a serious cockroach infestation. These are very tough insects and can be seriously difficult to get rid of. If you’ve got them in your home, you need to take care of them quickly as they can breed fast and pose a major danger in terms of spreading germs from surface to surface.

Because they move around a lot, cockroaches may transfer germs from your toilet to your kitchen in very little time.

Summary

So, the answer to the question “can cockroaches fly?” is that yes, many cockroaches can. However, not all the different species can fly, and having wings is not a sign that they are able to get airborne. Many of these insects have wings but cannot get into the air properly.

Of the cockroaches that can fly, many are strong fliers that use the ability to find mates and look for new sources of food or shelter. You should always call pest control if you find that you have cockroaches in your home, but take particular care to disinfect high up surfaces if you find flying cockroaches.

Remember, the biggest danger posed by cockroaches is the spread of germs, so keep your home as clean as possible!

Similar Posts