Do Cockroaches Play Dead?

Cockroaches can do lots of damage so it’s important to keep them at bay.

They’re also very adaptable and can easily survive in any environment. You may already have them in your homes and businesses, so it’s important to keep up with your pest control strategies.

So, do cockroaches play dead? Cockroaches have a reputation for being dirty, ugly, and disgusting.

However, some cockroaches are actually quite pretty. Some species even have iridescent wings that glisten like gold dust.

Scientists have also discovered that cockroaches can play dead! They discovered that some cockroaches will hide under objects or behind walls, then slowly crawl out when they hear a noise.

It’s likely this behavior evolved as a way to confuse predators or communicate with other cockroaches. Cockroaches aren’t as dirty as their reputation suggests, so next time you see one, don’t kill the cockroach.

Do Cockroaches Play Dead?

They most definitely do! In fact, this is one of the most effective ways for roaches to trick predators into leaving them alone so they can live another day.

This behavior is exhibited by both German and American roaches.

When a roach is hiding somewhere in your home or business, it will try to remain still and quiet as it waits for its predator to leave.

When it is safe to do so, the roach will move slowly from its hiding place to a more favorable location where it can resume normal activities.

It’s also a common myth that cockroaches are dirty and disgusting insects that carry disease.

When in a dangerous situation, they spray a smelly substance as a defense mechanism to ward off attackers.

How Do Roaches Play Dead?

Roaches have a very complex nervous system that allows them to play dead in order to escape danger.

Roaches, unlike humans, lack the ability to feel pain because they lack an “immune system.

However, they, like all living things, have a self-preservation instinct and will do whatever they can to avoid being eaten or killed.

Where Could You Find a Dead Roach?

Cockroaches are nocturnal insects that spend the day hiding in dark places like under appliances or behind walls.

They emerge at nighttime to search for food; however, these bugs will eat almost anything that they can find including pet food and glue.

They will most likely pretend to be dead if they are being chased by a human so that they can escape from their predators.

How to Know If a Cockroach Is Playing Dead?

If you find a cockroach that seems to not be moving at all, it might be playing dead as a defense mechanism.

Then, using a feather or pencil, poke the insect to see if the legs move.

You may also wear gloves and touch them with your finger to see if there are signs of life.

The cockroach will revive quickly after it has been poked and will run away to hide again if it is still alive.

Difference Between a Dead Cockroach and a Playing One

Antennae Movements

Because it no longer has the capacity to stay alive, a dead cockroach will stop using its antennae and will lose its sense of direction.

While playing dead, roaches will raise their antennas up straight in order to sense their surroundings.

Legs Position

Most roaches that are playing dead will lie flat on the ground with their legs and wings spread out to the sides.

Those will seem to be distributed from head to tail with the abdomen bent forward and the thorax slightly elevated.

If you pull its legs, they will respond by moving just like those that are alive. However, a dead roach’s legs will not respond after being touched.


When a dead roach is disturbed, it will release a foul odor that will attract other insects to feast on it.

If there are a lot of them around, they smell even worse and can attract flies and other pests that can carry diseases.

When a clump of them dies, the stench is typically unbearable.


It is almost hard for three dead roaches to go unnoticed or remain unnoticed for too long because their bodies start to decompose quickly and release their foul odors.

There will be irregular motions since they will not be able to move their legs properly anymore and they won’t be able to eat anything because of their damaged jaws.

Some may attempt to escape by crawling onto another roach’s body but it’s highly unlikely that they will live for long, especially if they are trapped on the same place for a long time.

Can Cockroaches Come Back to Life?

Cockroaches that have just died may return to life within one or two days, especially the ones that were stung by a wasp or bitten by a spider.

Depending on the kind of chemicals that were used to kill cockroaches, the odor from the dead roaches will remain for quite some time even after they are gone.

The roach may seem to be dead, but it may have already gone into a state of hibernation and may still revive at a later time.

You may think the cockroach is dead when you see it motionless or flat on its back.

Also Read: Does Pine Sol Attract Roaches?


Cockroaches are a frequent pest problem in many homes today.

They evolved robust self-defense systems to survive in harsh environments and have managed to adapt to living with humans for millennia.

When they detect danger, one or a few roaches will scatter and hide while others remain behind to protect the colony from predators, and they will continue doing this until all the roaches have safely escaped to a safe hiding place.

This might be due to fear of being crushed if they stay together in one spot or being eaten if they run in different directions at the same time.

You may lightly touch the cockroach, but they will be unable to sense your presence or smell you.

It will move further away from the source of light until it can no longer see and will then move back into darkness.

Furthermore, if you find a roach in your home, you may start to panic and feel disgusted and embarrassed.

You may suppress them or even try to kill them with insecticide sprays or traps.