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Do Cockroaches Have Eyes?

Last Updated: 14.07.24


Cockroaches are definitely not a pleasant presence, especially if you are dealing with an infestation in your home. Since you are here, reading about them, you might also want to find out more about how to effectively get rid of them. It’s important to know that roaches are not only rather disgusting, but they can also carry bacteria.

That’s why you should take all the necessary measures to prevent them from creating nests and infesting your home, in order to protect your loved ones. On the other hand, it’s true that roaches are rather fascinating creatures that have been able to adapt to various environments, being extremely resistant to all types of dangers.

While the myth that they could survive a nuclear bomb is most probably an exaggeration, the fact remains that they can quickly move around and adapt to changing conditions in the environment in order to survive for long periods.


Roaches and their heads

Another well-known and fun fact about roaches is that they can live without their heads for impressive amounts of time. While this is not possible for most of the other living creatures, the fact that these insects have an open circulatory system allows them to go on for as long as one week without their head.

Their bodies are also able to breathe through little holes divided among different body segments, which means their survival is not dependent on breathing through the head or the mouth. Of course, there are thousands of cockroach species across the world, and each one of them has different characteristics, but overall these insects are equipped with everything they need to survive.

Going back to the part where they can live without their heads for a while, it’s good to keep in mind that even though they will eventually die, they can still carry bacteria and diseases around the house up to that point. That’s why, if you want to make sure that you never have to deal with this problem, you should take all the measures to prevent their presence in the first place.

Roaches and their eyes

If a roach does keep its head on, then you need to know that it does have eyes and that they are actually very effective ones. Even though they don’t look like ours, and many other parts of these insects’ anatomy are somewhat primitive, their eyes are able to offer an almost 360-degree vision around them.

This way, they can literally keep a close eye on their surroundings, thus protecting themselves from predators and dangers. Cockroaches have bodies that are very flat but rounded on top, and they protect themselves with thick armor. In this setting, the eyes are positioned on the top of the head. It is exactly this location that helps them see almost everything around them.

Many other species, such as mammals and humans, have their eyes on the front, but in the case of cockroaches, having them positioned on the top of their heads ensures a near perfect view of their surroundings. Therefore, if you are not sure how a roach seems able to foresee any move you are about to make and run away, this can help explain a lot.

Moreover, their eyes are either simple or compound ones. Simple eyes are usually smaller and less effective since they detect light and darkness. Compound ones contain more than one lens, which brings everything to a whole new level in terms of getting a good idea of what is going in the immediate surroundings since they can see attacks coming from all sides.

The human eyes are able to see shapes, colors, and fine details, even if they have single lenses. However, the compound eyes of roaches have an impressive number of over 2,000 lenses, so you can only imagine what this means, even though they are not as developed as ours. A roach’s eyes are also sensitive to daylight and they are not fans of red light.

That’s why these insects are usually active in the dark, so if you leave any food out on the kitchen counter overnight, they will take this as an open invitation to have a midnight party and feed themselves.


A few words about the lenses

As we’ve said, unlike our own eyes which have only one lens, cockroaches benefit from a vision ensured by over 2,000 lenses. For example, the Madagascar hissing roach has somewhere between 2,400 and 2,500 hexagonal lenses, and these numbers are for each eye.

What this actually means is that besides having an excellent overall vision, they are also capable of seeing more than one thing at the same time. While the human vision only sees one large picture all the time, roaches are able to form multiple pictures of their environment, which most probably feels like looking at a large number of TV sets at the same time.

If everything we’ve said so far makes you think that you’ll never stand a chance when it comes to catching roaches, then it’s good to be aware that there are some limitations to their vision as well. One of these is the fact that lenses in their eyes tend to grow more misshapen as they go toward the outer edges of the eyes.

Moreover, irregularities within the lens can also affect their vision in the middle of the eye. This is not as common and given that there are so many lenses, it is not necessarily such a big issue. There are some image quality issues when it comes to red light as well since roaches cannot see in this case very well.

On the other hand, the same cannot be said about green light, and the insects do see rather well in such an environment. Of course, all the information above about their eyes becomes useless if they lose their heads, even though they are still able to live for some time in this condition.

Other senses

Just like any other living thing in the world, roaches cannot rely on one single sense to survive, which means that there are several other ones that they routinely use to survive. You might not be aware of this, but their antennae are the ones that house the scent organs.

In the case of males, they also have extra receptors in order to help them identify female pheromones when these are around and ready to mate. After all, reproducing in large numbers is one of the key aspects that ensures their survival, so nature took care of this matter as well.

Roaches need to be constantly aware of their environment, therefore their bodies also feature two appendages that are mounted on the underside of the shell. These are called cerci and their role is to sense movements and air currents in order to indicate any potentially dangerous presence. Moreover, hairs distributed along their legs have the same function.

In terms of spaces they prefer, roaches are happy when humid conditions are available. Any type of water leakage or area of humidity in your home might get their attention. That’s why, if you want to make sure that you won’t have to deal with an infestation any time soon, you should check the entire house, particularly the kitchen and the bathroom areas.



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