​​How Long Do Roaches Live?

  • Written By Dan Edwards on November 16, 2020
    Last Updated: November 25, 2020

The average cockroach lifespan varies between species. Below, I will explain the individual duration of the three most common cockroach breeds in the U.S. These are the German, American and oriental cockroaches.

How Long Do Roaches Live on Average?

The American Cockroach

The American cockroach is probably the largest roach we can expect to find in our homes. The females generally live the longest. They can survive almost two years with ideal conditions.

Females will produce an average of one egg capsule (ootheca) per month, although it could be up to two a week. Each can hold approximately 14 to 16 eggs. Over the course of a year, one female could be a mother to more than 800 babies.

Males, however, live a shorter life. Male adults will generally have a lifespan of one year.  

The German Cockroach

The German cockroach is one of the most common house pests in the U.S. They are a lot smaller than their American cousin, yet their reproduction rate is much higher.

Both females and males live no longer than six months. During this short time period, these roaches are busy. Females will lay about 20 to 40 eggs at a time, with an incubation period of about 28 days. The average female will produce about four or five oothecae during her lifetime.

German cockroach eggs tend to hatch more successfully, when compared to others. This is primarily due to the female’s actions. She will carry the egg capsules until the embryos are fully developed and ready to hatch.

The Oriental Cockroach

The oriental cockroach is generally known as the water bug. This species spends most of its time around moist, damp areas, such as behind the sink or down drains and sewers.

This roach is also considered quite clumsy and lazy since it travels a lot slower than other roaches. It often gets stuck in sinks or bathtubs due to its inability to climb out.

Adult males have an average lifespan of 160 days, about five months. Females can live a little longer, at around 180 days.

During her lifespan, the female will produce about eight oothecae on average, around 128 babies.

How Long Can Cockroaches Live Without Feeding?

Cockroaches are resilient insects. They have survived since the dawn of days and predate some of the most incredible predators to ever roam our humble planet. Cockroaches are, however, like all other living creatures, dependent on food.

Roaches can survive up to one month without food. This is simply due to their cold-blooded bodies and lazy routines. They spend most of their time resting. Although cockroaches can survive this long with no food, they do have a few tactics to prevent starvation.

One study busted the myth that roaches wander randomly about, stumbling into food. Researchers at the UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences discovered that cockroaches do, in fact, follow scent trails. They will even leave out trails for their fellow roaches to follow.

Cockroaches are also omnivorous, meaning that they will eat pretty much anything they can chew on. Their preferred foods include anything sweet, starchy, and meats and pet food. Many types of roach can also eat leather and books if food is scarce.

Some roaches will even bite humans when they become desperate. This generally only happens when there is food or food residue on a person’s body. Trying to kill a cockroach by depriving it of food is not the most efficient way of getting rid of it.

What Other Factors Can Affect the Lifespan of a Cockroach?

Cockroaches can survive an awful lot, including a month without food, a kick from a heavy duty boot, and a chilly winter. Fortunately, they also have a few weaknesses.

Lack of Water

Roaches can survive a long time without food, yet water is essential. These bugs dehydrate rather quickly. Some species can survive two weeks without a water supply, but on average when deprived of water, they will die within a week.

Low humidity within their living conditions will also cause distress among the roaches. Inside dry environments, cockroaches may also slow down their reproduction rate. Eggs will take longer to hatch, and the nymphs may not survive.

No Head?

Didn’t I say that cockroaches are tough? Roaches can, in fact, live without their head.

This is because they don’t use their mouths to breathe. The only reason why they would die from losing their heads is that they can’t drink water. Therefore, they die from dehydration.

Cockroaches have small tubes located on their abdomen or thorax, called spiracles. The roach can open and close these to breathe, when needed.

Roaches can even survive underwater for up to 40 minutes because they simply close these tubes. These bugs are, however, not the best of swimmers. Generally, they just float about.

Cockroaches will also close their spiracles when there is no need for oxygen. This has to do with water preservation. Every time they leave the tubes open, water escapes from their bodies and they are at risk of dehydration.


As cockroaches are cold-blooded insects, they rely on a warm climate, although high temperatures over 115 degrees Fahrenheit will likely kill them.

Many roaches can survive a mild winter. They will just find a warmer place to take shelter, such as moving indoors from outside. During cooler seasons, these bugs tend to slow down their breeding cycle, if not halt it altogether.

Temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit could even kill some species. On the contrary, other species can survive in sub-zero conditions if the temperature drop is gradual.

Humans and Predators

Cockroaches have many enemies. Humans dislike them due to the diseases they spread, and predators love them because of their high nutrient content.

Geckos, frogs, ants, lizards, and snakes all have one thing in common; they love munching on cockroaches. Geckos, for instance, will readily hunt down any nearby roach. It has even been suggested that these four-legged animals are your best solution if you want a natural cockroach control strategy.

Ordinarily, when we suspect an infestation, we grab the pesticide or call pest control. Using pesticides can reduce a cockroach infestation, although some might be immune to these chemicals.

Even though the cockroach lifespan is relatively short, their breeding habits have ensured their survival throughout millions of years. However, many treatments are available to control their population—you just need to find the right one.