Cockroach Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Cockroaches are a common kind of insect that are found in many places around the world. Come learn about cockroaches, what they eat, why their poo is important, and some other cool facts about these unpopular bugs.

What is a Cockroach?

Imagine walking into your kitchen in the middle of the night for a glass of water. You aren't really awake, but you grab a glass and start drinking. Suddenly, you feel a little tickle on the top of your foot! You look down to see a dark brown bug crawling across your toes with its antennae twitching wildly. You scream, kick your foot and send it flying, waking everyone up in the house. You've just seen a cockroach!


Cockroaches are black or brownish insects that are nocturnal, or most active at night, and some are considered pests. People are usually creeped out by these bugs and try to squish them on sight, but a cockroach can survive a whole week with no head! They have been around since dinosaurs roamed the Earth and aren't going anywhere, but they are interesting even if some people think they're icky.

There are at least 4,500 kinds of cockroaches that scientists know about, and they are all different. The heaviest known cockroach weighs about one ounce. That is about the weight of five quarters! The cockroach with the longest wings lives in Central and South America, and its wings from tip to tip are about seven inches. That's almost as long as an unsharpened pencil. And the Madagascar hissing cockroaches actually do hiss like a mad cat!

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach
Madagascar Hissing Cockroach

The most typical cockroach in the United States is the German cockroach, which can grow to be a little over half an inch long.

Except for Antarctica, cockroaches are everywhere and like comfy, warm temperatures and plenty of food and water, just like people do. They creep around in dirty places and can spread nasty germs where they crawl, making you sick. Some people are even allergic to them.

What Is on the Cockroach Menu?

Cockroaches use their antennae like you use your nose and mouth, so they can taste and smell a meal. Once they find dinner, their jaws are like garbage disposals and chew sideways.

Cockroach with Long Antennae
Cockroach with Long Antennae

Cockroaches will chow down on most anything they can find. Some eat things like rotting food and garbage, plants, insects, and even snack on other cockroaches. Others eat strange things like toothpaste, books, wallpaper glue, and the spines that hold books together.

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