Free Inspections & Estimates Same Day Service!

Were There Prehistoric Cockroaches?Posted April 21, 2022

Popular mythology tells us that cockroaches can survive anything: a meteor strike, a resulting ice age or even nuclear war, but entomologists suggest that the myths might not be based on truth.

How Ancient are Cockroaches?

Claiming that cockroaches have been around for 300 million years is a lot like claiming that a pterodactyl is a chicken. Yes, they are related… But no, they are not the same thing. That doesn’t mean cockroaches are exactly new kids on the block, either.

The fossil evidence suggests that cockroaches and their closely related ancestors have been crawling the earth for as long as 150 million years. There was even an entire age where cockroaches were one of the most dominant species on earth.

But those 300-million-year-old fossils? Those are roachoids, an evolutionary precursor to cockroaches. They are the species that both modern roaches – all 7,000 species of them – and the praying mantis developed from. In fact, they look a lot like a cross between a roach and a mantis. And they were significantly bigger than most modern cockroaches.

How Big Were Prehistoric Cockroaches?

Roachoids, in particular, were somewhat larger than modern cockroaches. Fossil evidence indicates some roaches were up to 3.5 inches long, and some, like the roachoid, flew and preyed on other insects.

Modern roaches are usually less than 1.5 to 2 inches long, except in some subtropical environments. So – while there weren’t any giant prehistoric cockroaches – in comparison to modern cockroaches, they were larger.

Likewise, modern roaches are not good at flying. They have wings that they will use to turn themselves over when they land on their backs. Some species of cockroaches, like the Asian cockroach and wood cockroach, are decent flyers, but most roaches simply run off the edge of a higher surface (like cabinets) and glide down to the counter-top below.

Were Cockroaches Around With the Dinosaurs?

Modern roaches were just beginning to appear as the era of the dinosaur came to an end. In fact, many people credit roaches with cleaning up the mess after the mass extinction of dinosaurs. Dozens or even hundreds of cockroaches are preserved in amber, and fossil evidence suggests that there were plenty of the little creepy crawlers around before the Ice Age.

How Did Cockroaches Survive the Ice Age?

Yes… with human help, of course. Like other insects, cockroaches do not have an inherent way to stay warm. So, a few thousand years ago, when ice from the North Pole spread southward, covering much of the northern hemisphere, the roaches caught a ride south with early humans who were also fleeing the ice.

Call Fox for All of Your Pest Control Problems

Since cockroaches are sneaky little critters great at hiding and reproducing, they do continue to create massive headaches for humanity. Seeing even a single roach can be frightening because we’ve all been told that for every cockroach we see, there are dozens or hundreds of others that we don’t see. That’s why roaches are almost always a problem for professionals to handle. Contact us today to help eliminate these sturdy and sneaky ancient pests.

Call to Get a Quote
or to Schedule
Same Day* Service