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Can You Kill a Cockroach By Stepping On It?

Seeing a cockroach in the house might make you want to kill it quickly. Stepping on it seems to be the fastest method of killing the roach. Some recommend this method while others say cockroaches cause more trouble when stepped on.

Various species of cockroaches such as The American Cockroach or the Brown-banded Cockroach can live indoors. Roaches spotted in the house are a sign of an infestation. You need to kill them and stepping on these bugs might not be the most efficient method of killing them.

Key facts

  • Solid shoes and plenty of force are needed to step on a cockroach to kill it
  • Cockroaches have thick exoskeletons which handle up to 900 times their body weight
  • Stepping on cockroaches eliminates individual bugs but it doesn’t eliminate nests
  • Squished roach parts may attract other bugs and even other cockroaches

You can kill a cockroach by stepping on it

Most people stepping on cockroaches with sufficient force will kill them. Heavy shoes such as boots help quickly squish cockroaches as opposed to thin-sole shoes. Squishing cockroaches isn’t recommended as this can spread bacteria, attract other bugs, and require deep cleaning.

Why a cockroach might not die when stepped on

While cockroaches can die when stepped on, they can also be difficult to kill, they might not die, or they might even fake their death.

Roaches have a hard exoskeleton

Cockroaches have a very hard and flexible exoskeleton, which is the rigid outer part of their bodies. They can withstand the weight of up to 900 times their body weight and even survive falls due to the hard exoskeleton.

High flexibility is also associated with this exoskeleton. A cockroach such as The Oriental Cockroach takes up to 600 days to mature. This is the time it takes for the bug to grow and thicken its exoskeleton which is then difficult to break.

Cockroaches make a quick escape when seeing people

Cockroaches can run at a speed of up to 3 miles per hour. They usually make a quick escape under the furniture or behind walls to escape humans trying to squish them. While you might try to step on them, you might not be able to catch them.

Cockroaches can play dead

Cockroaches can turn upside down to fake their death. They do this as there are plenty of predators that don’t eat dead bugs or dead animals. These bugs may attempt to play dead when they are harassed and when there’s no quick escape route.

Cockroach eggs escape stepping and squishing

Female German cockroaches are among the few that carry the eggs attached to their bodies, in an ootheca. You may squish these roaches and release its eggs when stepping on them. Other species lay the oothecal in a safe place, typically in the nest or next to food.

You can step on the cockroach and kill it but there are still new emerging cockroaches your home is going to be invaded by in a few weeks. Killing a cockroach doesn’t necessarily mean the eggs are also destroyed.

How do you know if a cockroach is dead after stepping on it?

You need to check if the roach is dead after stepping on it since you might have only partially squished it. Here’s how to tell if the roach is dead.

  • You hear a pop

    a pop sound is heard when you break the exoskeleton of the roach. Without it, the roach cannot move properly and it dies either on the spot or soon after.

  • Visible squishing evidence

    cockroach pieces, limbs, droppings, and crushed organs are all visual signs of a dead roach.

stepping on a cockroach might not be the best method of killing it

A single cockroach can be quickly killed by stepping on it with full force. However, this method of dealing with cockroaches isn’t the best. A squished roach may spread bacteria or require deep cleaning products to remove the marks and its squishing leaves on the floor.

Dead cockroaches release stench (oleic acid) that attracts other cockroaches

A dead cockroach is known to release a specific odor or stench. Oleic acid is released when you squish a bug and this stench may attract other bugs.

Cockroaches might not eat their dead but they are attracted to the stench, which means more can follow if you don’t properly remove the stench from the home.

Dead cockroaches can spread bacteria and diseases on your shoes and the floor

Cockroaches are known to spread different bacteria that may cause diseases. Squishing these bugs with shoes means you can spread out this bacteria by walking around the house.

Salmonella – cockroaches that eat decaying meat or uncooked meat may spread salmonellosis.

Streptococcus – some cockroaches such as those in hospitals or those who’ve been in hospitals often carry and spread pathogenic bacteria such as streptococcus.

Staphylococcus – the digestive tract of cockroaches that get squished might eliminate bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus which causes infections.

Respiratory allergies – cockroaches have been shown to exacerbate breathing difficulties such as asthma.

Keeping in mind cockroaches are dirty bugs that spread bacteria through food and which enter into contact with feces and decaying organic matter, squishing bugs might not be the best method of killing them. Furthermore, there are other reasons why this method might not be the best method for eliminating them,

You might not kill the cockroach when you step on it with soft shoes

A stepping and squishing attempt can fail when you don’t put in the force needed to kill the bug. Thick and elastic exoskeletons help cockroaches evade these killing attempts many times.

The extreme flexibility of the exoskeleton is what also allows cockroaches to flatten under the shows to escape squishing. An ability to flatten their bodies to squeeze through the smallest spaces without breaking the exoskeleton differentiates cockroaches from other bugs.

Cockroaches can regrow limits and regenerate after a failed squishing attempt

Cockroach nymphs show an adaptive behavior that allows them to regrow limbs after being squashed. Even more, cockroaches can shed limbs when they feel squashed as they can regrow them if it helps them make a quick escape.

Adult cockroaches can’t regrow limbs. Since they move fast, you may not be able to differentiate adults from nymphs and simply fail to quickly kill a nymph that can regenerate its lost legs.

Adult cockroaches have wings while nymphs are smaller versions of wingless adults. These younger roaches are more likely to quickly recover from a failed squishing attempt.

Squished heads still allow cockroaches to survive up to 10 days

Adult cockroaches have been known to survive a long time even without a head since they have 2 brains.

The main brain of the cockroach is located in the head while a secondary primitive brain responsible for movements is found in the body, next to the abdomen. A failed squishing attempt where you only squish the head may not kill the bug as roaches can survive more than a week without a head.

Other species of bugs can be attracted to roach parts on the floor

A dead cockroach requires proper vacuuming and cleaning. Its dead and spread-out body parts resulting from squishing may attract other types of bugs indoors.

Spiders, centipedes, and some beetles eat dead roaches and dead roach parts. Limbs and organs spread around the floor or behind the furniture might attract other pests indoors.

Extra cleaning is needed to clear out squished roach organs

Cockroaches are famous for leaving smear marks are they move along from moist to dry areas. More prominent marks as a result of released fluids from squishing end up on the floor as well.

These fluids may attract other types of bugs and even more roaches to the area. They also take more time to clean and may require deep cleaning products.

You may squish bugs outside of the house

While squishing bugs may leave residue on your kitchen or bathroom floors you may still squish them when you spot them outdoors.

Cockroaches need to be spotted on a hard surface such as on a paved driveway for the attempt to succeed.

Other methods of dealing with them indoors prove more practical. Sweeping and vacuuming quickly gets rid of cockroaches without leaving residue and without releasing oleic acid which may attract other bugs.