Do Cockroaches Have Brains?

Cockroaches wreaking havoc in your home don’t leave anything to chance.

They’re quick, intelligent, and nearly impossible to remove completely. They’re also prone to spreading, which is why you need to stay vigilant about them.

When it’s time to get rid of them, you can use different methods. So, do cockroaches have brains?

Many people believe that cockroaches don’t have brains. However, this is incorrect.

Cockroaches do have brains, but they’re not fully developed. These brains are organized into ganglia, which control basic bodily functions like breathing and movement.

They also have a central complex, which contains a brain stem and ganglia that control higher-level functions like learning, memory, and decision-making.

Although cockroaches don’t have fully developed brains, they’re still capable of learning simple tasks and performing basic behaviors.

Do Cockroaches Have Brains?

Many people believe cockroaches are dirty pests that carry dangerous diseases.

However, cockroaches are more complicated than that.

Not only do they not cause disease, but they actually play an important role in the environment, decomposing garbage and leftovers and regulating the population of other household pests.

In fact, cockroaches have long been a part of human society and have even been used to fight disease when antibiotics were scarce.

Furthermore, cockroaches have incredible survival skills, allowing them to survive in the harshest conditions imaginable and making it nearly impossible to exterminate them completely.

For these reasons, cockroaches deserve more respect and should not be exterminated like pests.

Do Cockroaches Have Two Brains?

Cockroaches are said to possess two brains—one located in the thorax and the other in the abdomen.

One is in the skull, while the other two are located in different parts of the body—the thorax and the abdomen respectively.

To make matters even more confusing, the cockroach brains are of different sizes and function differently from one another.

Cockroaches have a head with a set of antennae and a pair of compound eyes that are attached to it.

They have nerve clusters throughout the body that are responsible for their sense of touch, smell, and taste.

These nerve groupings form a network that regulates their body movements, feeding behavior, and reproductive activities.

From a scientific standpoint, the brain of the cockroach is divided into two parts: the central complex and the subesophageal zone.

The subesophageal zone is located inside the thorax and controls basic body functions like respiration, heart rate, temperature regulation, locomotion, and basic responses for avoiding predators.

The subesophageal zone is also connected to the central complex by a series of nerves called longitudinal connectives.

In practice, this bundle forms a neural tube that conducts sensory information between the head and abdomen.

Are Roaches Smart?

Nature has imbued every living creature with the ability to be smart in one way or another.

This includes roaches as well. Some species of roaches are known to perform simple tasks and recall lessons that have been taught to them.

For instance, roaches can distinguish between different colors and remember the colors they’ve seen. They have also shown that they can distinguish different shapes.

For example, they remember if a shape has been rotated or not by a specific angle and can use this information to perform different tasks in the future.

A recently born newborn, the nymph of a house roach, is capable of learning from its mother how to catch prey and where to find food to survive.

Similarly, a young chicken has the phenomena of imprinting in its brain where it recognizes its mother’s voice when it gets scared and follows her wherever she goes for protection and comfort.

Roaches are clever if they have fundamental survival instincts imprinted in their tiny minds which help them stay alive.

How Big Is A Cockroach Brain?

Because roaches are tiny creatures and have small bodies, people assume that they don’t have large and complex brains.

However, this isn’t true at all. The brain of a roach is actually quite large when compared to the size of its body.

As you may have guessed by now, the brain of the common house roach is split into two parts: the head and the abdominal segment.

The head of a roach houses a pair of compound eyes, sensory organs that detect light and other stimuli and are used to search for food, water, and shelter at night.

The true brain will reside in the abdomen of the insect; however, the two halves are connected by nerves which carry signals between the head and the body.

Depending on the species, the brain of a cockroach can be anywhere from the size of a pea to almost as large as a nut.

Ganglia clusters, on the other hand, are bundles of nerve fibers that work like large neurons and transmit signals from one part of the body to another.

They may be found throughout the body, but they are most concentrated in the head region.

This dispersed structure enables the insect to quickly respond to environmental changes and regulate its internal systems accordingly.

How Do Roaches Move?

Roaches move by walking and by jumping.

They walk by constantly rocking their body back and forth and their legs forward. They jump by jumping up and then down repeatedly.

Jumping helps them move longer distances quickly. When cockroaches feel threatened, they quickly jump away, minimizing the distance they need to travel to escape danger.

Roaches can jump as high as 7 inches to 8 inches, which is much higher than their body height.

Where Are Cockroaches’ Brains Located?

The cockroach’s primary brain is located above its antennae, just behind the head.

The second brain is located at the base of its abdomen, behind its head and under its legs.

The major processing unit is the brain of the insect which is located in the head region. This part of the brain is divided into three sections: the forebrain, the midbrain, and the hindbrain.

It is these three sections that make the insect capable of movement, feeding, mating, and other vital processes for survival.

Each of these clusters has specific functions which are further subdivided into other units or sections which work together to give the body the ability to perform various tasks.

A ventral nerve cord runs the length of the body from the head through the thorax to the abdomen.

Each cluster is in charge of a certain function or process which the insect needs to survive.

Their ganglia are much too numerous to mention individually here but the three most important are the brain and central nervous system (CNS), the nerve cords and the sensory organs.

Humans depend on nerves to send information to the brain, but insects have a completely different system involving specialized nerve cells called neurons that transmit signals to other parts of the body directly without going through the CNS.

A roach’s nerve cord carries signals from the brain to the legs and antennae through a set of short, stubby protrusions called dendrites.

This makes it considerably more plausible that there might be more than one brain in an insect.

What Is A Cockroach’s IQ?

A cockroach’s precise intelligence depends on which species you’re talking about.

What we do know is that cockroaches are smart when it comes to solving puzzles.

Cockroach brains, like other insects, have relatively complex neuronal networks for processing sensory input and motor output.

Cockroaches lack the same degree or type of complexity found in the brains of vertebrates, including humans.

Nonetheless, they are one of the most widely studied insect species in terms of behavior and cognition.

This intellect is not usually apparent in the everyday behavior of most roaches.

Do Cockroaches Have Memory?

Cockroaches can learn, demonstrating that they have some form of memory. They also have long-term memory in the form of habits which they repeat even after they have died.

Sensory input is collected and processed by the nervous system of the cockroach which processes this information and sends it to the muscles of the animal for action.

What the cockroach learns from these experiences is reinforced by sensory input, causing a change in behavior in the future.

Do Cockroaches Have Feelings?

Basic sensations or emotions are feelings of pleasure and pain which are experienced when the nerves in an animal’s body are stimulated, either positively or negatively.

These substances cause changes in the behavior of animals, like cockroaches, by affecting their nervous systems.

Complex emotions such as jealousy and empathy are often considered to be learned behaviors rather than innate instincts.

Cockroaches, like all other organisms, will instinctively avoid pain and seek pleasure.

How Much Can Cockroaches Learn?

Cockroach intelligence permits them to learn a variety of skills necessary for survival such as navigating mazes and avoiding predators.

Behavioural Ecology investigated how cockroaches learn to navigate mazes and concluded that “learning is an important attribute for surviving in nature.”

Other studies have found evidence that they can learn how to escape a predator and even associate different odors with reward and punishment.

Also Read: Do Roaches Like the Cold?


In conclusion, cockroaches have brains.

However, their brains are not very sophisticated. They’re like little computers, which allow them to learn simple tasks, such as how to avoid predators and navigate mazes.

In addition, cockroaches can learn to avoid electric shocks when paired with humans.

Cockroaches also have more complex social interactions than other insects.

For example, they communicate with each other through pheromones, chemicals that indicate whether another roach is around.

Cockroaches also have complex and painful social rituals called castes.

Finally, cockroaches have complex nervous systems with sensory and motor nerves.

Cockroaches may have evolved to have brains because brains are expensive to develop and maintain.

Moreover, having brains helps cockroaches survive and reproduce.