Pest Identification

Learn More About the Pests Invading Your Home

Flying Cockroach: Myth Or Fact?

The worldwide cockroach network covers the globe. Roaches may be German, Oriental, Asian, or even from Turkestan or Madagascar. The biggest cucarachas—naturally—are American. But the flying cockroach is both a myth AND a fact. It all depends on how you define flying.

Do cockroaches soar like eagles or swarm like houseflies? Nope, they do not. However, this is cold comfort for those who have had an evil-looking roach blunder into the nose or dive-bomb the head. In such cases the roaches aren’t flying, but using their leathery little wings to glide to a new location, like a paper airplane. And—cold comfort again—this flying technique is determined by species and sex.

Of the 4,500 different cockroach species, less than 1 percent of them are considered household pests. Among this revolting subset, the gliders include the half-inch-long Asian cockroach which is nearly identical to the German roach, except for its long, narrow wings. The Asian was first introduced to the United States in the Florida area in 1986 and has become a significant pest in the Southeast.

Most Florida residents are also familiar with the iridescent green Cuban cockroach. While not considered a disease-spreading pest, these roaches have wings and are good fliers. Attracted to light, they often bang into screens and windows at night. Among two other species, the smokybrown and woods cockroach, both females and males fly. These bugs live outdoors.

Now let’s discuss the mother of all nasty gliding roaches, the 2-inch long American cockroach. These cringe-worthy critters have wings that allow them to fly short distances. If they climb up high in a tree they can glide a good long distance before gracefully landing in your hair. However, American roaches don’t usually bother to fly. They can run 4.4-feet per second and can turn on a dime, so they don’t really need wings to get from place to place.