Roaches are some of the most resilient critters on the planet, but can they survive the devastating aftermath of a nuclear blast? There’s a lot of speculation about whether roaches survive a nuclear explosion. No concrete answers exist about how a nuclear explosion would affect the roach population. Cockroaches have a heightened immune system that protects them from less than hospitable environments, thus leading to myths and legends of roaches surviving the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear events during World War II.
Roaches are hard to kill, and it takes maximum efforts by homeowners and professional exterminators to get rid of them when they have infiltrated your property and your house. Their reputation precedes them, and they are despised, feared, and eliminated when possible. Their abilities and resilience back up the hard-to-kill persona of roaches. Delve deeper into the mystery of how the roach population would respond to a nuclear explosion.
What Are Roaches?
Image via Flickr by patrickkavanagh
Roaches, or cockroaches, are insects with six legs. Their body consists of a head, abdomen, and thorax. A roach’s thorax has three segments, and its abdomen comprises 10 segments. Roaches also have an exoskeleton and wings. Scientists only consider 30 species of roaches pests due to their direct contact with humans. In reality, approximately 4,500 different species of roaches exist in the world, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
You will find roaches on every continent on earth except for Antarctica, and they aren’t merely surviving; they are thriving. Whether exposed to extreme cold conditions or tropical locations, roaches will find a way to adapt and survive. Cockroaches help further the decomposition process in their natural habitat, contribute to the nitrogen cycle, and aerate the soil. You will find them living in dark, damp areas such as under leaves, logs, and other ground-covering debris.
Roaches mainly feed on decaying organic matter, such as dead insects and animals. However, they also feed on trash, discarded kitchen scraps, and many other items found in your kitchen. In addition, due to their unsanitary habits, roaches carry filth and disease where they go and pose a significant health risk. If you suspect that roaches have infested your property or home, contact Bulwark Exterminating for assistance. Our highly trained exterminators can help you eliminate roaches and any other pests you may encounter.
While you won’t find any popular superheroes based on a roach, it doesn’t mean that this creepy crawling creature doesn’t harbor superpowers of its own. Many consider cockroaches one of the most resilient creatures on the planet — and with good reason. Scientists believe that roaches have been around since the Jurassic period, or 125 to 140 million years ago. If this theory is correct, cockroaches would have survived the giant asteroid that collided with the earth 66 million years ago, and they are still going strong today.
What are these superpowers that roaches have? Take a closer look at the extraordinary capabilities of cockroaches:
Roaches are extremely fast in comparison to their body size. They can run at impressive speeds of up to 15 body lengths per second. For comparison purposes, this capability would equate to a human running at a speed of 198.8 mph. Now you know why it is so challenging to capture a roach.
Have you ever stepped on a roach only for it to scurry away when you lift your foot? A roach’s exoskeleton or body armor can sustain over 900 times the roach’s body weight, making it exceedingly challenging to crush one.
Roaches already have a slender body, but they can easily contort their bodies to squeeze through cracks and crevices only a quarter of their body height. This feature allows them access to almost any structure, no matter how hard you try to keep them out.
Static Apnea Champion
Static apnea is the sport of holding your breath underwater, and the current AIDA World Champion is Aleix Segura Vendrell. He can hold his breath for an astounding 10 minutes and more and holds the Guinness World Record with an astonishing 24 minutes and 3 seconds using pure oxygen. Compare this rate to a roach’s ability to hold its breath underwater. Cockroaches not only can hold their breath underwater for 40 minutes but can do so while swimming.
Super Immune System
Roaches have one of the most well-developed immune systems, allowing them to feed on items that would be considered poisonous to most other animals and to live in inhospitable places. They eat lots of everyday foods such as meat, sugar, and cheese. Not-so-normal foods they can eat are nails, cardboard, rotting food, and blood. Their super immune system efficiently seeks out and destroys harmful microbes, giving them the ability to live anywhere and eat anything.
Super Healing Factor
No miraculous regenerations occur when a human being loses a limb or an eye. Roaches, on the other hand, can regenerate. They can regrow lost antennae, limbs, and eyes. Cockroaches can also survive without food for up to a month. They can also go without water for approximately a week before suffering ill effects.
Remember the tale of Ichabod Crane, the Headless Horseman? Washington Irving writes about this story in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Although this classic horror tale is purely fictional, it isn’t very comforting to think of a human somehow surviving without a head. This fantastical notion of existing without a head is a real-life fact for roaches.
Roaches can live without a head until the body finally dies of dehydration. When a cockroach loses its head, the neck seals off the area where the head was once attached. As such, the roach continues to function without the head. This disturbing fact is not fully understood, but roaches don’t have pressurized blood vessels so that they won’t bleed out, and they breathe through their open circulatory systems. Although they can regenerate some parts, they can’t regrow their heads.
Nuclear Fallout and Roaches
Nuclear explosions are the most feared of all human creations. An atomic blast not only disintegrates everything in its blast radius with immense force and heat but irradiates the area with harmful radiation that will kill any remaining life within the affected area. Humans can’t withstand very much radiation. A very short period of exposure to 400 radon units (rads) is enough to kill up to 50% of a human population in 30 days. This type of destruction is hard to imagine and is devastating to all life, including roaches.
Even with all of their inherent superpowers, roaches aren’t immune to the effects of nuclear fallout or radiation but would fare better than humans. For example, the atomic bombs that dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II released a devastating 1,000 rads. This level of rads is fatal to humans after 10 minutes of exposure, but roaches can handle this level without much impact.
Roach populations exposed to rad levels of up to 1,000 were affected, but around 50% of their population remained healthy. Rad levels of 10,000 allow roaches a marginal survival rate, with approximately 10% of their population surviving. When exposed to 100,000 rads, roaches have no chance of survival. These results were released through a popular television show with MythBusters and the Discovery Channel.
Survival of the Fittest
The ultimate survival challenge would be an all-out nuclear holocaust, and mammals would be among the first creatures to die out, followed by all other life. Depending on the circumstances, roaches have a slim chance of being the last creatures on earth after a nuclear apocalypse. Still, there’s no doubt that with the entire world irradiated that they too would eventually succumb to the ill effects of radiation exposure, lack of viable food and water, and the inability to reproduce.
Roaches play an essential role in the ecosystem and rely on it to sustain themselves. Any disruption in the overall aspect of our planet’s interconnected biosphere would upset the delicate balance of life as we know it. This concept works both ways, and even if roaches were to survive a nuclear apocalypse, they wouldn’t be able to exist without the rest of the world’s inhabitants.
Consider these final questions:
Roaches may be fascinating creatures to learn about, but when they have invaded your home, they become a health risk and a threat that needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible. Don’t hesitate to contact us today for further information about Bulwark Exterminating’s services.