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Do cockroaches fly at night?

Cockroaches are known for their ability to quickly scurry across floors and squeeze into tight spaces. However, some species of cockroaches are also capable of flight. So do cockroaches actually fly, and if so, do they fly more at night?

Can Cockroaches Fly?

Yes, some species of cockroaches can fly. Of the approximately 4,500 species of cockroaches worldwide, about 50 species are associated with human habitats. Of these 50 species, several are capable of flight:

  • American cockroach
  • Asian cockroach
  • Australian cockroach
  • Brownbanded cockroach
  • Field cockroach
  • Florida woods cockroach
  • Oriental cockroach (males only)
  • Smokybrown cockroach

Cockroaches fly by means of their two sets of wings. They have leathery forewings called tegmina that cover and protect their hind wings. Their hind wings are membranous and provide the ability to fly.

Why Can Some Cockroaches Fly While Others Can’t?

There are a few key reasons why some cockroach species can fly while others cannot:

  • Weight – Heavier cockroaches like the American cockroach have more difficulty flying than lighter species.
  • Habitat – Cockroaches that live in leaf litter and other forested environments tend to be better fliers than species that live indoors.
  • Gender – In some species like the Oriental cockroach, only males have wings and can fly.

Cockroaches that live exclusively indoors like the German cockroach lack the ability to fly. Their wings have become vestigial over time since flight offers no real advantage in a confined indoor space.

Do Cockroaches Fly More at Night?

Yes, cockroaches tend to fly more at night if given the opportunity. There are a couple reasons for their nocturnal flight:

  • Cooler temperatures – Cockroaches fly more on warmer evenings when temperatures are cooler.
  • Cover of darkness – The darkness provides cover from predators.
  • Exploration – Cockroaches forage and explore new areas more actively at night.

Additionally, cockroaches may take flight if suddenly exposed to light at night when foraging. Nymphs may also fly for the first time upon becoming adults, which often happens at night after molting.

How Far Can Cockroaches Fly?

Cockroaches are not considered strong fliers compared to other winged insects. They typically only fly for short distances:

  • American cockroach – Can fly up to 30 feet.
  • Asian cockroach – Up to 75 feet.
  • Australian cockroach – Several yards at a time.
  • Brownbanded cockroach – Up to 150 feet.
  • Field cockroach – Can glide several feet when disturbed.
  • Florida woods cockroach – Short hovering flights up to 20 feet.
  • Oriental cockroach – Males fly up to 50 feet seeking females.
  • Smokybrown cockroach – Powerful fliers that can fly 100-150 feet.

While cockroaches are not the strongest fliers, their ability to fly allows them to easily escape threats, find food, and explore or infest new areas.

When Are Cockroaches Most Likely to Fly Inside?

Cockroaches may take flight indoors if they are suddenly exposed to light, disturbed, or and looking for food and water. Some key times when they may fly inside include:

  • Late evening after lights have been turned off.
  • Overnight when food and water sources are most accessible.
  • When entering or exiting a structure through gaps and cracks.
  • After being disturbed by human activity.
  • During courtship flights by males seeking mates.

To prevent cockroaches from flying, it’s best to limit their access to food, water, and entry points into a home. Keeping interior lights off at night may also discourage flight.

How to Keep Cockroaches from Flying in Your Home

To help discourage cockroaches from taking flight in your home, consider these tips:

  • Seal cracks, gaps, and other pest entry points.
  • Store food in airtight containers and limit access to water sources.
  • Keep pet food bowls clean and avoid leaving food out.
  • Vacuum and clean frequently to remove food crumbs and debris.
  • Turn off interior lights at night when possible.
  • Use sticky traps near potential pest entrances.
  • Apply boric acid powder in wall voids and secluded areas.
  • Use gel baits in areas where cockroaches hide.
  • Limit humidity and moisture with dehumidifiers and fans.

Working with a pest management professional can also help stop cockroaches through targeted, effective treatment methods.


Many of the cockroach species that live in and around homes can fly. They often take flight at night when conditions are more favorable for flying and they can remain hidden from predators. While cockroaches are not the strongest fliers, their ability to fly allows for quick escape and dispersal. Limiting access to food, water, and shelter are key to preventing cockroaches from flying in your home.