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How Many Legs Do Cockroaches Have

Last Updated: 06.07.20


Cockroaches are not welcomed guests in any home. If you need help finding the best cockroach killer, this guide is packed with suggestions. This article provides readers with info regarding the anatomy of a roach, its lifecycle, as well as tips on how to prevent and combat an infestation. 


How many legs do they have?

Cockroaches have a body divided into three parts: the head, the thorax and the abdomen. What is more, there are three pairs of legs attached to the thorax of these insects. Therefore, cockroaches have six legs in total. 

Each of the three pairs of legs a roach has is named after the area in the thorax to which it is attached to. Firstly, the prothoracic legs are the closest to the insect’s head. This pair is the shortest and it is generally used as a brake when a roach is running.

Secondly, the middle pair is called the mesothoracic legs. This pair can be moved backward or forward and it can be used when the roach is trying to speed up or slow down.

Finally, the metathoracic legs are the last pair of legs that a roach has and they are also the longest. When using these legs, a cockroach can move up to 50 body lengths in one second. Whenever an insect runs this fast, it usually lifts its body and it only uses its last pair of legs.

The head of a roach can point downward. Even though most of the males have wings, they are vestigial wings that are undeveloped and, thus, pretty much undeveloped. 

Because most roaches have up to three joints on each leg, it could be said that they have around 18 knees. The skeleton of a cockroach is made of a substance called chitin. Chitin is a hard material that cannot grow.  As a result, as they grow, roaches shed their exoskeleton a few times a year.



The parts of a cockroach leg

The leg of a roach is made up of various parts the coxa, the trochanter, the femur, the tibia, and the tarsus. Each part has a different length and a distinct function. The coxa is the section that is attached directly to the thorax of the insect. It plays the same role as a human hip.

The trochanter, the second part of the leg, acts similarly to a knee as it helps the roach bend its leg. Next, the femur and the tibia are just like the thigh and the shin bone of a human, while the tarsus plays the same role as the ankle and the foot. 

On top of that, the tarsus also helps the insect climb walls and walk upside down on walls and ceilings.


Types of roaches

At first, it might seem that roaches look the same, regardless of their species. However, at close inspection, it becomes clear that this is not the case. For instance, the American cockroach, also called the water bug has a long body that measures around two inches. It also has a flat, reddish body that has an oval shape. The edges of its exoskeleton are yellow.

The Oriental roach has a shape that is similar to that of a scallop. Males are short as they only measure one inch, while females can reach 1-3/8 inches in length. These insects are black. 

The German cockroach is usually light brown. It has long and thin legs as well as wings. These critters are easy to spot because of the dark stripes that run parallel on their backs.


Where do roaches like to live?

According to specialists, roaches usually live in warm and humid areas. Because of this, they are popular in regions such as Mexico or Florida. Yet, some species can also be found in the colder, drier parts of the world. They like to live close to people because they are constantly in search of a source of food.

As you probably know, roaches like to hide in dark spaces. For instance, in a house, they can be found near the stove, where food is often spilled and easy to access. 


The lifecycle of a roach

In its lifetime, a roach goes through three distinct stages: egg, nymph, and adult. Most cockroaches are oviparous. This means that the young grow in eggs outside the body of the female. 

Usually, the female carries a sac called the ootheca that contains between 6 and 40 eggs attached to her abdomen. The ootheca can remain attached to the female until the eggs are ready to hatch or the mother deposits it in a safe place. From this point of view, roaches act differently, depending on their species. Ovoviviparous roaches grow an ootheca inside the body of the female. 

After 6 to 8 weeks the eggs hatch and undeveloped roaches called nymphs emerge from the ootheca. Nymphs are generally white and, as they age, they turn brown. Over one year, nymphs go through numerous changes and they gradually transform into adults. An adult roach has a lifespan of one to two years.

What is more, a single German cockroach, one of the most common species in America, can produce around 300,000 cockroaches in just one year. Because of this, a cockroach infestation can turn problematic and it should be handled immediately.



How to prevent a cockroach infestation

Seasoned exterminators have created a list of tips that you can follow if you want to make sure that you won’t have to deal with a cockroach infestation. To start, it is essential that you keep your home clean. Most roaches are attracted to warm and humid areas where food is easy to access. 

So, be sure to clean the dishes before you go to bed and to keep your food sealed in airtight containers. Moreover, you should always feed your pets at a specific time so that you can clean their food bowls before you call it a night. Also, keep your floors clean by sweeping them regularly. 

To prevent these pests from entering your home, you should use insecticide sprays around your doors and outdoor furniture. You have to remember to reapply the spray after it rains or after the indicated number of weeks, depending on the type of product that you use.

Because rubbish bins also attract roaches, you should empty and thoroughly clean them regularly. Bins that have airtight covers should be preferred as they do not allow the insects to crawl into them.


How to get rid of roaches? 

The first thing you have to do is to identify the species of roaches that you are dealing with. This way, you will know what type of products you have to use. In the USA, there are two widely spread species the American and the German cockroach. The German roaches have a brown body and small wings, while the American ones are reddish and larger. 

When not dealt with properly, a cockroach infestation can turn dangerous because these insects can infest one’s food with bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. You should start by cutting the insects off from food. It might also help to clean crumbs from the floor and cupboards and behind appliances such as the stove or the refrigerator.

Next, go ahead and eliminate their hiding places by sealing cracks and crevices and throwing out cardboard boxes and any stacks of paper that you might have. To start killing them, it is advisable that you use bait. Bait is equally efficient as sprays. On top of that, bait is not as toxic for humans and it does not contaminate surfaces.


Call the exterminators

If you find it too difficult to get rid of roaches by yourself, or if you simply do not want to waste your precious time killing roaches, it might be a good idea to ask for professional help. Exterminators have a lot of experience with roaches and they know who to correctly identify the type of roaches that have invaded your home.

To make sure that your home is in good hands, be sure to look online and read the feedback left by other customers. This might help you to make a good decision. Besides, it is also a great idea to ask for recommendations from friends that have used exterminators before.  



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