Do All Cockroaches Fly? Let’s Find Out

By Cyron Ray Macey from Brisbane (-27.470963,153.026505), Australia - Bush Cockroach, CC BY 2.0,

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Do All Cockroaches Fly? Let’s Find Out

Now, you might notice that all cockroach species have wings, but does that mean they all fly? The answer might surprise you, but even though they have wings, their main use is definitely not flying. So without wasting time, let’s take a look, and see what they’re used for.

Can German Cockroaches fly?

The German cockroach is commonly found throughout Europe, and you can likely tell the species by the light brown color it has on its skin. Plus, these cockroaches are also much more likely to live indoors as opposed to outdoors. This is why many German Cockroaches appear indoors and can be quite tricky to manage. This adaptation is also one of the many factors that have influenced their inability to cover great distance flying.

So can they fly?

The German cockroach is a species of cockroach that is barely able to glide or get off the ground. While these roaches definitely do have wings, they can’t use them to fly around in the way that you might be thinking. This is due to the fact that their body mass size is not geared towards flight. While these cockroaches are not great at flying, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Plus, in some cases, German cockroaches have shown the ability to glide if the need arises.

So what are their wings used for?

There are plenty of insects that have wings and are still unable to fly all that well. This is actually a relatively common occurrence, and while their wings may seem useless, this is not exactly the case. These German cockroaches can actually use their wings to maneuver, glide, and even evade danger.

So when you think about whether or not a German cockroach can fly, while it may be able to cover very short distances, their wings can help them glide quite a bit. This is mostly used in cases where danger is right around the corner, or if they need to quickly drop from a high point.

While the German Cockroach can fly under certain circumstances, they really have little to no use for flying. At the end of the day, chances are you’ll never see them up in the air, and that’s due to the fact that they can barely get themselves oft the ground.

Can American Cockroaches fly?

By American-cockroach.jpg: Gary Alpertderivative work: B kimmel (talk) - American-cockroach.jpg, CC BY 2.5,

The American Cockroach is another species of cockroach that is not a very avid flyer. Unlike German cockroaches, though, American Cockroaches have a better ability to fly over short distances. These cockroaches will also use their wings more, and sometimes you can see them flying around outdoors.

So how well can they fly?

While American Cockroaches have the ability to fly, you’ll rarely find them doing so. This is due to the fact that they tend to scurry away on their legs as opposed to flying. Cockroaches are very fast when it comes to moving on the ground, and can cover quite a bit of distance quickly (up to 3 miles). This makes their wings less useful, unless they’re needed to help them avoid dangerous situations.

What are the American Cockroach’s wings used for?

The American Cockroach primarily uses their wings to glide, avoid danger, and to seek out shelter. This is why it’s hard to catch then flying because they really don’t do it all that much.

Want to know more than you ever thought possible about the American Cockroach?! We’ve got your back. Check out American Cockroach Facts.

Can Oriental Cockroaches fly?

By Alvesgaspar - Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Oriental Cockroaches are very similar in size to the German Cockroach, and at a quick glance, it can actually be quite hard to distinguish between the two. The main difference here, between the two species, is that oriental cockroaches actually have no ability to fly. They don’t use their wings to glide, evade danger, or even to cover a short distance. Oriental Cockroaches also tend to be one of the darkest colored cockroaches, with their exoskeleton almost resembling a jet back color.

So what are their wings for?

The wings on the oriental cockroach are much smaller in size on the female, and while the wings are larger on the male, that doesn’t mean they can fly either. The wings are likely carried over from their 280 million years of history, and in the case or this cockroach, the wings have been rendered unimportant.

This does not mean that they won’t attempt to use their wings, and in many cases, you’ll see their wings actually open up and flutter. In Oriental Cockroaches, this is used to deter threats or attempt to get themselves out of water.

The Oriental Cockroach is not a species of cockroach that can fly. While they have wings, these wings are just leftovers from millions of years worth of evolution. You might even see them use their wings, but in doing so, they really don’t accomplish all that much.

If you’re interested in learning about a bug that flies a little more regularly than a cockroach, check out our article Everything You Need to Know About Fruit Flies.

How far can cockroaches fly?

When cockroaches fly, they generally don’t cover a great amount of distance. This is due to the fact that most cockroaches use their wings for evasive purposes. For the purpose of this section, it’s important to take a look at how far some of the better flying species can fly, which is the Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach.

The Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach is one of the few species of cockroaches that actually use their wings quite often, and if you see a cockroach flying outdoors in the United States, there is a good chance that you’re looking at this particular species.

So how far can this cockroach fly?

When it comes to covering larger distances, the Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach is one of the best cockroaches for flying. While they may be better at flying than other species, that does not mean that they can cover great distances. Therefore, on average, these cockroaches can tend to remain in the air for a couple of hundred meters tops. Even on their best days, they generally fly for about 100 meters at a time, and typically still prefer to walk around like other species.

While some cockroaches can fly better than others, that doesn’t mean that they prefer to fly. At this point of the article, you’ve probably started to notice a trend. All species of cockroaches have wings, but not every species uses them for anything.

Why do cockroaches fly?

Cockroaches fly for all different types of reasons, and for the cockroaches that do fly, it’s never their primary function. For this section, let’s take a look at what the American Cockroach uses their wings for. It’s important to look at the American Cockroach here because out of the species we went over so far, they use their wings for the most applications.

So why does the American Cockroach fly?

American Cockroaches fly for a few key reasons. Plus, unlike most other insects that can fly, you won’t really see them flying around all too much. As we’ve mentioned earlier, this is due to the fact that the American Cockroach uses its wings for evasive maneuvers or for gliding purposes. This is not to say that American Cockroach couldn’t cover great distances through the air if it wanted too.

How does gliding work?

Cockroaches will glide for a couple of different reasons, and while one of them might be to avoid danger, we’ll touch more on that in just a moment. Cockroaches will typically prefer to crawl down most high surfaces on foot, and can move pretty fast in doing so, but sometimes they tend to glide down as well. This is not necessarily for fun, or to cover a great distance, but instead, their wings are used for impact reduction in this particular application. Cockroaches will also use gliding to escape hot temperatures in an attempt to glide into a colder shelter.

What types of maneuvers does the American Cockroach use their wings for?

The American Cockroach is not a frequent flyer, but they definitely like to use their wings for a few different applications. One of the main reasons you’ll see them use their wings, is in order to avoid danger. Typically, they won’t stay in the air very long, but the distance they can cover is enough for them to avoid most forms of imminent danger. In this case, their wings can also help them get onto adjacent surfaces relatively quickly.

Cockroaches can also fly for temperature reasons

During the hot summer months, you’ll typically see the most amount of flying activity from cockroaches. This is due to the fact that while cockroaches may be tropical insects, that doesn’t mean they enjoy a scorching hot day. This will cause species like the Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach and the American Cockroach to seek out shelter in a cooler setting. To get their quickly, these cockroaches will use their wings to go from high elevations to low elevations, or in an attempt to cover a greater distance.

So while cockroaches don’t normally hover around with their wings all of the time, that doesn’t mean that they’re never used from time to time. Plus, while most cockroaches can’t fly very well, the Pennsylvania Wood Cockroach is definitely the most proficient species when it comes to flying.

Final Finding

Now, while most cockroaches can’t fly, that doesn’t mean that some don’t. Therefore, this summer, you might want to keep an eye out for airborne cockroaches.

Some species are better than others, and chances are if you find cockroaches indoors, they’re not very good at flying.

The next time you look at a cockroach, hopefully this article will have you thinking about them a bit different. Not all cockroaches can fly, but they definitely all have wings, so you can rest easy knowing that you don’t have to worry too much about a horde of flying roaches.

Their wings are used for various reasons, but you’ll never see them flying for too long.

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Steve Foster

Mad about bugs and wanting to publish as many articles as I can to help educate people about these amazing beautiful creatures! For more info check out my about page

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