The sight of a cockroach is annoying for most people, and it gets worse when the roach flies toward you. So when it first happened to me, I was surprised to see it had two sets of wings, and only the hind ones flapped for it to fly around.
While all roaches have wings, not all of them are good at flying, or fly at all. Most roaches fly to run from danger, seek favorable weather conditions, or when they fall from a high point and they glide for a while to cushion their fall. Whether with or without wings, roaches don’t bite or sting.
Some environments are more friendly for the flying roaches. For instance, the roaches are energized under warm temperatures and fly more often than in the cold seasons when the temperatures are low. This article explores the different types of cockroaches that fly and how they do it.
Do all cockroaches fly?
No, not all cockroaches fly. Although they may have wings as adults, only a few can fly as their wing muscles are not strong enough to get them off the ground.
Cockroaches have two pairs of wings that perform different functions. One pair attached to the thorax acts as a protective layer, while the other is what the roaches use to fly around or glide over short distances.
For the cockroaches that fly, the environment must be ideal. When it’s humid, and the temperatures are high, the cockroaches gather the muscle strength to fly around. For this reason, most cities will observe the flying roaches during summer.
Cockroach legs are stronger than their wings, so when they face danger, the roaches opt to run rather than fly.
Do all cockroaches have wings?
There are thousands of cockroach species across the globe, and although they have similar anatomy structures, not all of them can fly. Among these species, some are good fliers while others, though they have wings, can’t fly.
Below are some of the common types of roaches that have wings and can fly:
1. American cockroaches
These roaches have wings as adults and can fly for short distances. They will glide and hit the ground at the earliest opportunity when coming from higher ground, such as a tree.
When threatened, the American roaches prefer to run, which they are good at, instead of flying. These roaches develop wings in their adult life. During their nymph level, they are wingless and thus can’t fly.
For these roaches to fly, the temperatures need to be right. Ideally, the temperatures need to be above 85⁰F for them to fly. This helps boost the energy of their wings so they can fly a longer distance. It also enables them to fly in different directions.
2. German cockroaches
German cockroaches have wings, but they can’t fly long distances. So instead, when provoked, they will glide short distances and then hit the ground running.
These roaches are common invaders but cannot power up their wings for flight. They are better off running on the ground.
3. Brown-banded cockroaches
The brown-banded roaches get their name from the two bands below their heads. They are easy to spot from these conspicuous bands.
Interestingly, this roach species has a clear sexual dimorphism in flying. The males have wings and can fly over short distances. Under the right temperatures above 80⁰F, the brown-banded roach will fly a short distance when threatened. They also glide from high levels to lower grounds in an attempt to shift to better places to hide.
The female brown-banded cockroaches are smaller in size, which explains why their wings are also smaller and incapable of flying around.
4. Oriental cockroaches
At the nymph stage, the oriental cockroaches are wingless and don’t fly, while the adults have small wings. The male adults have small wings that cover half of their bodies. The females, too, have wings though they are smaller compared to their male counterparts.
Oriental cockroaches find it hard to crawl up smooth surfaces, and since they can’t fly or glide, they will find the longer route to their destination, walking steadily.
5. Dubia roaches
Dubia roaches have wings covering a big portion of their bodies, especially males. Despite the wings, these roaches can’t fly. The wings only come in handy when the dubia is about to fall to the ground as the wings help it have a soft landing.
The dubia roaches hardly fly, and when they do, it’s minimal, and they are not good at controlling the direction they fly.
6. Discoid roaches
As adults, the discoid roaches have wings but can’t fly. This is because their two pairs of wings are smaller than their body size, making it hard for them to fly.
The nymph stage of the discoid roaches doesn’t have wings as they only appear in adult discoid roaches.
7. Smoky brown Roaches
The smoky brown adult roaches have wings and will fly around when need be. However, they don’t have wings at the nymph stage, so they can’t fly.
While flying, these roaches will have the front pair of wings opened while the back set of the wings does the flapping. Mostly, they will fly in case they feel threatened or when shifting to areas with favorable climate conditions.
8. Asian Roaches
This roach breed is a strong flier and can fly a long distance of more than 100 feet. They have strong pairs of wings, especially when the temperatures are right to strengthen their wings muscles.
The Asian roaches love the light and will mostly fly towards the light in your home, although they prefer to live outdoors.
Are flying roaches dangerous?
The winged flying roaches are no different from the crawling ones. They will hardly bite. Most people find them disgusting, given that most cannot control the direction they fly. For this reason, you could notice a roach flying directly toward you.
Although they may not bite, the flying roaches are vectors for ailments as they contaminate foodstuffs and can potentially cause allergies.
Like other types of roaches, the flying cockroaches carry bacteria, viruses, and fungi that they transfer to foods and surfaces that could trigger ailments. They are also asthma triggers attributable to their droppings and when they shed their skin.
Once you spot the flying cockroaches, plan to disinfect and get rid of them as they are nocturnal and can keep hiding during the day, making it hard to spot them.
Most flying roaches are heavy breeders, making their infestation in your home hard to eliminate.
How do cockroaches fly?
Cockroaches have two sets of wings. However, they only use one pair to fly. Roaches use the back pair of wings to fly, which is thin and membranous.
While flying, the roaches keep the front wings open while they flap the back pair to keep them afloat in the air. The front pair of wings is heavier, so the roaches use the hind wings to fly.
Why do cockroaches fly?
Cockroaches fly mostly to shift to areas with favorable weather conditions. Ideally, cockroaches find temperatures between 75 and 85⁰F favorable. Anything above or below this range will have the roach flying around in search of better areas with the preferred temperature range.
When cockroaches face danger, they will fly around to secure places. Then, the cockroaches will fly and glide to another location to keep safe.
If a flying cockroach is about to fall from high ground, it’ll fly to ensure it lands softly and avoid injuries. For instance, when a flying cockroach comes down from a tree, it will glide or fly to the ground slowly and land safely before it can start crawling again.
As seen from the information above, not all roaches fly even when most of them have wings. Most of the roaches kept as feeder insects for pets don’t fly and don’t even bite. In fact, roaches aren’t known for their bites or stings, hence quite harmless.