Have you ever felt a mini heart attack when the innocent-looking cockroach you were chasing suddenly decided to fly away?
That’s right. The gross insect scuttering away at night and landing on your head as you sleep can ALSO fly.
Cockroaches can run up to three miles an hour. If you live in a moderately warm city, you will probably never see an insect in your house that moves as fast as roaches can.
But are they also master flyers?
Let’s find out do roaches fly.
Do all Cockroaches Fly?
Cockroaches are a large group of insects belonging to the order Blattodea, with hundreds of unique species.
Cockroaches have a lifecycle that is very similar to any other bug.
So are all species of this enormous category able to fly?
Unfortunately, the short answer to this question is: YES
So, big roaches that fly or giant flying cockroaches that you’ve all heard stories about can be very much true.
Most species of cockroaches have wings, and many can fly.
While in certain species of cockroach, such as the Madagascar hissing cockroach, the wings are vestigial, and the cockroach is incapable of powered flight, this is a rare exception.
Other species, like the German cockroach, have wings but weak flight muscles, which means that the roaches can barely take flight and tend to glide.
Why Don’t Cockroaches Always Fly?
Most cockroaches avoid the cumbersome process of flying, preferring to scurry around to scavenge for food and escape predators.
So, the real question is- can roaches fly?
And if they can, why don’t they utilize their superpower to become the greatest supervillains on the planet?
Cockroaches that can fly are JUST regular roaches. They are neither more dangerous than other cockroaches nor more evolved than their crawling counterparts.
Some cockroaches are lucky enough to be gifted with an additional skill; that is, they can fly away from danger or to places that only crawl may not be able to reach.
The reason could be simple physics. Most cockroaches have an enormous body mass if we compare their size to their wingspan and volume.
Therefore flying is a significant task for them – it burns up their energy and is also a cumbersome exercise.
Maneuvering their untrained bodies is hard, and so is the enormous strain of achieving instant liftoff.
That’s right, in layman’s terms, cockroaches don’t often fly because they are too fat to take off.
For example, the most iconic species, the American cockroach, can fly but usually prefers to run (which they do at a fantastic fifty body lengths a second!) Most members of Blattodea have accomplished runners.
When do Cockroaches Fly?
Cockroaches will most likely fly if they feel a threat and need to get away quickly.
So, if they find themselves in a precarious situation on the ground and flying is their only survival option, they’ll flutter away to safety. (leaving us humans rushing for cover in horror).
They sometimes might deploy their wings like gliders when threatened and escape predators or quickly descend from high places.
This allows them to scale longer distances quicker without the threat of falling and getting crushed accidentally. They could also fly if they (usually males) search for a potential mate.
So yes, flying is flexible for some cockroaches, who show off their skill to woo their partners.
Can Hot Weather Make Cockroaches Fly?
Like most other insects, roaches are ectothermic, i.e., they have cold blood. Under this biological condition, their body temperatures are regulated and optimized according to their surroundings.
Generally, roaches prefer a moderate, humid temperature between 75 degrees and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Whenever temperatures exceed 85 degrees, they resort to flying or gliding over short distances.
As a thumb rule, cockroaches usually glide around in search of cooler temperatures and nifty crawl spaces during peak summers; higher temperatures force them to use more energy and lose out on critical nutrients in their body.
How High Can Cockroaches Fly?
Well, a roach’s capacity to fly primarily depends on its wings’ strength and size.
Even the best flying cockroaches can’t usually fly more than 100 feet at one time.
However, it is to be noted that they can’t fly this distance vertically. Most of these roaches can fly only as high as a common treetop.
Which Cockroach Species are Expert Flyers?
Australian cockroaches are strong fliers and are typically found outdoors. They are an inch long and prefer to live in the hot and humid portions of the country.
This green-colored cockroach is commonly found in Central America and is very thin. They have wings that allow them to fly relatively short distances.
Pennsylvania Woods Cockroaches
Both males and females have very light wings, but only males can fly.
American cockroaches are one of the most common species in the U.S., taking up residence in North America since the 1600s. Their long, narrow bodies are reddish-brown, and they have wings that allow them to fly, although they rarely do.
Why Do Roaches Fly At You?
Now let’s answer the main question – why do cockroaches fly toward you?
So now you know the few sporadic circumstances that lead to roaches taking flight.
But do they ever charge toward humans when provoked?
The answer is no.
Contrary to your worst fears, cockroaches that fly hardly ever fly toward humans. This is because they are too timid and insecure to challenge a towering person in a duel.
So, what you take as flying is merely their response to being startled and zooming around uncontrollably, sometimes in your direction too.
Additionally, some species are attracted to light, prompting them to glide toward a bright light source behind or around.
You can breathe a sigh of relief now!
No one would want the cockroaches to crawl around in their homes as the roaches can spread filth and disease and cause an unnecessary nuisance.
In fact, the only thing that could make a crawling roach worse would be if it could also fly — landing on you or your belongings.
But thankfully, now you know that most cockroaches are just reluctant flyers, and thus you can act accordingly.
Now that we’ve had this question answered, also find out whether roaches can bite!
Having all the information about the pests that could linger in your home is always good.