The question over what happens if you step on a cockroach in your bare feet is probably more of a psychological one rather than a careful contemplation of what happens to the roach and the bottom of your foot.
If you do step on a cockroach with your bare foot, several things can happen, depending on how hard you step on it.
It will explode, it will flatten, using its exceptional exoskeleton to survive, or you will scream and leap away from the roach.
Cockroaches have a very unique and flexible exoskeleton that allows them to withstand an enormous amount of weight.
It also allows them a great degree of flexibility; flexibility that they need to scurry under the smallest of cracks or spaces between your trim and the floor.
How Durable is a Cockroach’s Exoskeleton?
In a highly scientific study on the efficacy of a cockroach’s exoskeleton, a bunch of scientists ran around stopping on cockroaches (yes, this is real), until they managed to stamp them all into oblivion.
Then they published their research on it and it goes to show you that roaches are pretty resilient.
For starters, cockroaches can compress their body up to 60% of their resting state. This means that stomping on it with a soft, barefoot, will only begin to phase the cockroach if the pressure you apply exceeds 60%.
In small openings, where roaches have to shove their bodies into as they flee your foot, their exoskeletons are capable of withstanding 300 times the cockroach’s weight.
In “other circumstances,” such as you step on it with your bare foot, the roach can withstand up to 900 times its body weight.
For mathematical purposes, the average roach weighs about a gram, which means that it can withstand 900 grams of crushing weight before it pops out of its little shell. That comes to about 2lbs.
As a comparison, that would be the same as a human being that weighs 175lbs withstanding 157,500lbs, or nearly 79 tons.
Clearly, roaches were designed to survive and they’re one of the few insects (or animals in the entire animal kingdom, period) that scientists believe would survive a nuclear holocaust.
What all of this means is that if you decide to step on a cockroach to kill it, you had better be 100% committed to the cause, intent on throwing your entire body weight behind the stomp.
Sure, it’ll make a bit of a mess, but it’s the only way to ensure that the job is done.
Why Do Cockroaches Pop When You Crush Them?
Surely you have opened a fragile mail package before where your item was surrounded by large, plastic bubbles.
If you squeeze those bubbles, they expand on one side and will continue to expand until the plastic’s durability is compromised. Then it pops.
It’s the same thing with cockroaches. Their exoskeletons are extremely hardy, as shown in the above description, and it takes a lot more than you would think to breach their shells.
When you step on one, you are essentially doing to the roach what we described with the plastic bubble.
Of course, like the bubble, the roach’s exoskeleton will explode and that usually means a sizeable splatter of roach guts on the floor and also on the bottom of your foot.
It may sound disgusting—it is—but if you decide to go at the cockroach in this manner, then that is likely what you will get.
What Happens if you Miss or Only Catch Half of the Roach?
Roaches are incredibly durable creatures and if you move in for the kill, you need to be committed, fast, and apply enough force to get the job done.
If you are only halfway committed, several things can happen.
- The roach will play dead, scurrying away when you back off
- You only catch one of two cockroach brains
- Crush the head, not killing it (at least not yet)
- Limb regeneration of you only catch its legs
Roaches are craftier than you think. They are more than happy to play dead as an instinctive, defense mechanism.
Once they feel as if the threat is gone, they will scurry off in the direction where safety is closest.
Cockroaches also have two brains. One of those brains is right where you would expect it to be, in its head.
This brain is responsible for regenerating lost limbs, mating behavior, hormone secretion, memory, and the majority of the roach’s senses.
The other brain is located in the roach’s posterior (yes, the cockroach has a brain in its butt) and is responsible for processing the information gathered through its senses from upfront, sexual activity, instinctive behavior (such as playing dead), and protecting their young.
Crush one of their brains and there is still a fully functioning brain operating. Of course, the roach will become enormously confused and is likely to die on its own at some point.
If you manage to crush the head, for example, the roach will go on living for quite some time.
A cockroach is also capable of regenerating its limbs, so if you catch it on the side or its back half, crushing or tearing off some of its limbs, the cockroach will slowly but surely regenerate those limbs as time goes by.
Do Cockroaches Lay Eggs When You Crush Them?
Aside from spiders, cockroaches are probably the second most popular insect to be disgusted at on Tik Tok videos.
Some videos show a recently crushed roach unleashing hundreds of baby cockroaches that flee in all directions.
The problem is, roaches don’t lay eggs in the traditional sense and they’re not likely to be scurrying around in the open while carrying one of their oothecae.
An ootheca is what a cockroach lays when it is time to expand the species.
An ootheca is a hardened, sack-like container that houses the eggs, which are anywhere between 10 and 25 in number.
The ootheca strongly resembles a dark brown or black bean, with some of them having a subtle striping on their exterior.
Besides, if a roach happens to be carrying around its ootheca, you will crush it along with the roach, killing everything inside the ootheca.
So all of those Tik Tok and YouTube videos are fake or use some subtle CG effects to make it look hundreds of roaches are released when you crush their dear mother.
Does Stomping on a Cockroach Attract More Cockroaches?
One of the most popular myths about cockroaches is that the dead ones attract roaches like white on rice. The truth is the exact opposite. Roaches avoid their dead like people would avoid the plague.
Roaches do give off a scent when they die, however, it’s not a dinner bell that rings for roaches to come running.
What the scent really means boils down to a simple, instinctive warning bell, and roaches will stay away from that area at all costs.
Now, roaches will eat their dead, but only well after the initial stench has died away and only if it’s their only choice left in the world.
They’d rather eat borax than their own dead. If they’re starving and they have no access to any other source of food, however, cockroaches will indulge in cannibalism.
In fact, if you catch a roach eating another roach then you are observing a live example of a cockroach that is starving to death.
In a scientific study, scientists tossed around the extracted goop from recently dead roaches so that they could study how it affected the living roaches in the same area.
The roaches avoided these pieces at all costs and, according to David Rollo, a McMasterUniversity Professor of Biology, “It was amazing to find that the cockroaches avoided places treated with these extracts like the plague.”
Should You Bother Stepping on Cockroaches?
If you’re caught in the moment, you should at least attempt to kill the roach, however, a single roach revealed and out in the open, maybe a warning sign of something far worse, which is an infestation.
At the very least, it may indicate that your home is undergoing the process of an infestation. Whether or not you know that you are dealing with an infestation, still means that you need to begin taking certain steps.
That includes finding every source of water and food in the house and securing it so that there is zero access.
- Grab yourself some paper plates
- Sprinkle a 50/50 mixture of borax and sugar on each plate
- Lay the plates in areas where roaches may congregate
- Observe the mixture for changes
Borax will slaughter roaches far more effectively than your bare foot or shoe ever could, so it’s a good idea to spread the love (in the form of borax) throughout the house as efficiently and effectively as possible.
While stepping on a cockroach with your bare foot may or may not kill it (depending on the force you apply), it’s certainly going to disgust you and is a possible indicator that you have an infestation problem going on.
Whether you do or not, hang up the shoes and approach them from a different angle, with borax and sugar. If all goes well, you won’t have to worry about stepping on a cockroach again.
Alright, that’s it for this article, here are a few hand-selected articles that you might also find interesting reads:How Often Do Cockroaches Reproduce?
Cockroaches That Look Like Bed Bugs – 3 Common Examples
What to Do If Your Apartment Is Infested with Roaches?
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