How will cockroaches be affected by global warming & climate change?

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Disclaimer: I hate cockroaches. They are my worst nightmare. One of the articles on this website that I am most proud of is called “How to get rid of cockroaches when you live in Shanghai“. And the reason why I`m proud of that article?

Because I am actively helping people to kill as many of these bugs as possible.

However, I am NOT going to let my feelings for these small bugs get in the way for presenting you with interesting biological facts. This article is 100 % based on science and 0 % based on my personal feelings.

The question we would all want to know the answer to is: How will global warming affect the behavior and the geographical spread of cockroaches?

What do scientists believe will happen to cockroaches if the planet becomes a couple of degrees warmer?

As already stated in the question above, scientists believe that two possible effects happen:

1) They change their behavior pattern and possibly also their look and size.
2) Cockroaches will be spread out to parts of the world that currently do not struggle with them.*

*= There`s a reason why I am currently living in the coldest capital in the world (Oslo). Zero cockroaches to be found in our homes…as of now.

Animal behavior: Will there be any change in the way cockroaches look and behave?

Yes, some scientists have already come to that conclusion. The reason for that is quite simple:


Let`s take Asia as an example. The longer south you get (Thailand, Philippines, Taiwan, etc.), the larger the cockroaches become. This is something they are very aware of in China for instance. In the capital Beijing, which is placed up north, the “bug size” is nearly insignificant. You can see some cockroaches running around, but they are super small. If you travel down to Shanghai (which is in the middle of the country), they are medium to large-sized. Down in Hong Kong and Shenzhen (very south), the cockroaches are HUGE. And they CAN FLY!!

This would be a great opportunity for me to show off my Photoshop skills:

How cockroaches increase in size the longer south you get. Photo: Google Maps & Amazing Photoshop skills.

You get the point. Cockroaches get BIGGER, MORE AGGRESSIVE as well as HUNGRIER the more south you come. In other words: this is the development we will see on a large scale. Warmer climate = larger and more “advanced” cockroaches.

PS! Please note that it is not only temperature that will attract cockroaches. They also prefer to be in humid areas, which is why drier places (up the mountains) have less bugs.

How will cockroaches look like on a warmer planet (year 2050)?

Live Science published a very interesting article back in 2016. In this article, a scientist is asked about the behavior change that cockroaches experience in warmer weather. Mrs. Silverman claims that warmer temperatures will turn the roaches into frequent flyers,

quote: “Sweltering summer heat, however, can give them enough energy to spread their wings. They may fly for various reasons, including to find mates, to find food or to escape a predator (or a stomping foot).”

Conclusion #1: They will use their wings more often. Be prepared for flying cockroaches around your head! (ewwww).

But wait. There`s more!

San Joaqin Pest Control has published a brilliant article about where roaches seek when the temperatures get higher. You might have experienced an increasing number of cockroaches in your bathroom/bedroom/kitchen during warm periods? That is no coincidence. Let me quickly
The tendency of the average cockroach to seek out warm, moist areas means that homes are at an increased risk of infestation during an extended warm temperature period.”

Conclusion #2: The roaches will invade your home more easily in the future. You will not only have cockroaches flying around in the streets and on the subway but more importantly: in your own house. 🙂

That is all we know about how the cockroaches will change their behavior in case of global warming. Now, will they come to your area? That`s the next question we are going to research.

Geography: Where will the cockroaches move to when it gets warmer?

That question is hard to answer. The reason for that is that we do not know how warm it will be in the future. If global warming slows down (or even stops), cockroaches will not become a problem up North.
What we do know is that cockroaches will move wherever they can survive. As of now, there are no cockroaches that are “normal” to be found in Scandinavia nor Canada.

This might very well change if global warming keeps accelerating. Several studies have previously shown that the number of cockroaches in an area will explode if it experiences a long-term heat wave – just like this one from Sacramento.

How cold must it be for the cockroaches to die?

This is dependent on what type of cockroach it is. Some are better at dealing with cold than others. That being said, there is no way that any cockroach species can survive the arctic winter. The German cockroach is one of the most common species in the world.

An article from Scientific American stated the following about their chances of surviving in a cold environment:

“Cool and dry climates, anywhere too high in latitude or elevation, are uninhabitable for the German cockroach. At the chilly temperature of 23˚F, 50% of German cockroaches die within 10 hours. At 14˚F, 50% die within the first hour.

What can we expect from the development of cockroaches in the (near) future?

There is overwhelming evidence that warm weather makes the cockroaches spread around to new geographical areas. Also, many scientists suggest that the bugs will evolve into something that would be even more annoying compared to what they already are.

These are the two main takeaways from this article.

And the way we can prevent that from happening?

Stop global warming. That’s unfortunately the only solution.

2 thoughts on “How will cockroaches be affected by global warming & climate change?”

  1. Avatar

    So you’re not saying it will be more of them, but they will also become larger and spread out?

    Ok, this is enough for me. We need to stop global warming.

    1. Avatar

      That’s exactly what I’m saying. 🙂

      Fantastic – let’s hope more people get motivated to stop global warming now.

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