With the threat of foreign war heating up, many people have begun wondering whether cockroaches can survive a nuclear explosion. Contrary to popular belief, the smaller cockroach species do not ‘disappear into thin air’ when exposed to a nuclear blast, and in fact are quite capable of surviving some of the most intense blasts known (we are talking about atomic warfare after all). Moreover, there is not even any evidence that cockroaches were ever actually impacted by any attacks and instead it was propaganda which was used by the public to describe the aftermath and reasoning behind such attacks. I really don’t expect much from cockroaches, but what might surprise you is how resilient they really are. Cockroaches are found in nearly every part of the world. These adaptable insects manage to survive through an impressive variety of circumstances. The adaptability of the cockroach is due to their high reproductive rates, ability to quickly establish new populations after environmental disasters, and because they can eat almost anything. During World War II a team of researchers released several thousand German Cockroaches in modern day post-nuclear Hiroshima. The cockroaches survived, and within six months they began to breed and repopulate the area. A nuclear bomb is a large explosive device capable of causing great loss of life, severe property damage, and social disruption. This is generally the result of the explosion itself and the radioactive fallout produced by the explosion, which remains hazardous to living organisms (including humans) for an extended period of time.
an Cockroaches Survive A Nuke
To begin with, we need to understand that there are more than 4,000 cockroach species on the planet.
- There are over 4,000 cockroach species across the world, and only about 30 of them hang out with us in our homes and businesses. Some live in trees and some live in water, some are harmless to humans and others are dangerous, some are edible and others are poisonous.
There is scant evidence of any roach species surviving a nuclear blast.
It’s difficult to pinpoint how the myth began, but it’s most likely a misunderstanding of an experiment conducted in the 1970s. The experiment was designed to measure how well cockroaches could tolerate radiation, not whether or not they would survive a nuclear blast.
Cockroaches are certainly among the most resilient creatures on Earth, but that doesn’t mean they can survive anything. There is scant evidence of any roach species surviving a nuclear blast. So while you might find them in any ruined cityscape, they weren’t around before people screwed everything up.
Roaches have survived for millions of years and are unlikely to be wiped out by anything we do.
The adaptability and resilience of cockroaches isn’t limited to their immediate, day-to-day survival. Let’s talk about their long-term survival as a species. In the grand scheme of things, humans haven’t been around very long: our species has only existed for 200,000 years. Cockroaches have existed for much longer than that. In fact, cockroaches have survived the last 250 million years—they were even around before dinosaurs! What’s more, they’ve survived multiple mass extinction events throughout their evolution—for instance, they made it through the Permian-Triassic mass extinction event 252 million years ago and the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event 66 million years ago.
Roaches in the wild have much greater populations than any of the domesticated roaches.
Roaches in the wild have much greater populations than any of the domesticated roaches, and those wild cockroaches are a lot less squeamish about the world. They can survive for long periods by slowing their metabolism down until they get more food or water. If a nuclear bomb didn’t kill them all on its own, there’s plenty of evidence that they would be able to outlast any radiation.
“In natural conditions [cockroaches] will start calling it quits after five to six days with no food,” says Akhteruzzaman. “But when you expose them to starvation, they can last several weeks.”
As far as other disasters go, we’re not going to be able to wipe out cockroaches easily either. The closest that anyone has come was during one of our past wars, in Iraq back 1989, when Saddam Hussein had his scientists look into how his people could possibly survive an attack from nuclear weapons from America.
One of the things they did was test out different species’ resistance against radiation — and it turned out that cockroaches were incredibly tough customers indeed.
The cockroaches that do survive a nuclear attack would be left without food or water and wouldn’t live long.
An insect has little chance of surviving a nuclear event, let alone a nuclear war. We have a lot of evidence to support this. (I can’t even say “a lot” without chuckling.)
There were two famous tests in the 50s, Operation Teapot and Operation Buster-Jangle Dog.
In both instances, thousands upon thousands of insects were placed in various locations from 0.5 to 18 miles away from ground zero. The results were overwhelmingly identical: nearly all insects died immediately or shortly after the blast.
Cockroaches can’t survive in the vacuum of space, so anything that can happen in our atmosphere will destroy them, too.
There’s a common urban legend that cockroaches can survive a nuclear explosion, and while it may seem like they could because they’ve been around for millions of years, we’re here to break it down. Let’s look at the ways we know that cockroaches can be killed:
- A sharp blow: Cockroaches have exoskeletons, so if you hit them hard enough with something heavy, their skeletons will splinter and crack. You don’t even need anything particularly sophisticated—a boot or a heavy book could do the trick.
- An explosion: If you blow up a cockroach, they will die from blunt-force trauma. The force of an explosion would cause serious injury to the roaches’ fragile bodies, which are adapted to scurrying around quickly over uneven terrain but not things exploding all around them.
- Radiation from the sun: Cockroaches can be killed by radiation from the sun in just a few minutes because they lack protection against ultraviolet rays. They are able to withstand gamma radiation on Earth because there is such a low amount of it compared to our atmosphere (and what we get daily from the sun).
- Insecticides: Cockroaches are vulnerable to insecticides; they even have special adaptations to help them stay away from toxic compounds in nature. However, these adaptations become useless when confronted with modern man-made insecticides like Raid and Off!
- Traps: Cockroaches can be trapped and killed using things like glue traps or boric acid bait stations. In fact, these are some of the most effective methods for getting rid of an infestation without resorting to more drastic measures like calling an exterminator or installing expensive devices into your walls and attic spaces that emit ultrasonic frequencies meant to disrupt pests’ sensory systems (but also your neighbors’).
The cockroach is not indestructible, as people seem to think it is.
Contrary to popular belief, cockroaches cannot survive a nuclear war. The radiation from the blast itself would not only kill the roaches, it would also render the planet uninhabitable for them. They wouldn’t be able to live on their own, and humans need help from other organisms like cockroaches in order to survive.
Cockroaches are not invincible. They can’t survive in space or a nuclear attack because they rely on certain environmental conditions that are necessary for survival. Even if they could somehow manage without those conditions, they’d still be killed by radiation poisoning within minutes of being exposed without any protection whatsoever. And while some types of cockroaches can go up to eight months without food or water (AKA “the longest time ever recorded”), this still isn’t enough time to survive an entire nuclear winter—even if it was possible in theory (which it isn’t).”
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- Dupont advice cockroach gel bait can be used in single and multi-family residential buildings, schools, commercial and industrial facilities (including warehouses, apartments, supermarkets, restaurants, motels, hotels, hospitals, food handling/storage establishments), and transportation equipment such as aircraft, trains, ships, boats, buses
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- Country Of Origin: United States
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