Can a Cockroach Survive a Nuclear Blast, Really?

The only thing that will survive after the earth is turned into a barren nuclear wasteland is cockroaches.

That’s the lore, we’ve all heard it before. but is it true?

Can a cockroach survive a nuclear blast, really? The answer is no, roaches would not survive a direct nuclear blast, but they would thrive in the aftermath. Here are the basics:

  • Roaches could not survive a blast because of the heat
  • Some cockroach species can withstand more than ten times the radiation humans can
  • Slow cell cycles help them to withstand radiation exposure

Let’s investigate to see why.


Can a Cockroach Survive a Nuclear Blast? Reasons Why Cockroaches May Survive a Nuclear Blast

There’s Hal, the roach in Wall-E that manages to survive the post-apocalypse world. And there were many rumors that roaches were the only things seen scuttling around in the post-Hiroshima and Nagasaki rubble.

But there is little solid evidence that roaches actually survived Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Certainly, there are photos of insects flying around in the area of the rubble, but it’s not really clear whether the insects survived the blast, or moved in later.

There is little solid evidence that roaches actually survived Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

So let’s see why some people believe that cockroaches, with their effective reproduction techniques and efficient life cycle, will inherit the earth if there ever is a nuclear war.


Radiation And Cockroaches: The Reality

As proven through the years and many tests, cockroaches can withstand a lot of radiation. They can withstand more than ten times the amount of radiation humans can withstand! So roaches are much more likely to survive a nuclear holocaust than humans are.

But there’s a limit.

Roaches are much more likely to survive a nuclear holocaust than humans are.

The TV Show Mythbusters tested the theory in 2012, and found that roaches can withstand a lot of radiation… but eventually will meet their demise. Here’s a clip:

While human beings can withstand up to a thousand radiation units, cockroaches can withstand more than 10,000 radiation units. The Hiroshima nuclear bomb created a radiation fall out of just about 10,300 radiation units, far too high for humans to survive.

Humans can withstand up to 1,000 radiation units for a time before it is too much for us. On the other hand, cockroaches will withstand more than the 10,300 radiation units created by the Hiroshima nuclear bomb.

This means they can easily survive a nuclear holocaust if they were not in the heat of the original blast. That is because the heat of such a blast will be far too hot for them, and they will die along with with all other species in the vicinity.

Cockroaches can withstand temperatures as high as 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, so they are not completely heatproof. A nuclear blast, in comparison, is more than 180 million degrees Fahrenheit. Cockroaches aren’t gonna make it through that!

Cockroaches can withstand temperatures as high as 110 to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, so they are not completely heatproof. A nuclear blast, in comparison, is more than 180 million degrees Fahrenheit. Cockroaches aren’t gonna make it through that!

The fact is that no living creature will be able to withstand the very high heat generated by a nuclear blast. So, the real answer is that cockroaches will not survive a nuclear blast.

But some species may thrive in the fallout after such a bomb.


Procreation and Species

The test to determine whether cockroaches could survive a nuclear holocaust was done on the German species, so the results are limited to just the (very fast-spawning German cockroach).

And tests were not done on the eggs of the roaches. If the eggs of the roaches were all rendered unviable, then obviously they would not be able to procreate, and ultimately the roach species would die off as well.


Why Do Pesticides Kill Cockroaches, But Radiation Does Not?

Even though the radiation caused by a nuclear blast is far worse than pesticides, these products can easily kill cockroaches! How is that possible?

One of the main reasons is that when you use pesticides, it is specifically aimed at the habitat of the cockroaches.

In the case of a nuclear blast, cockroaches generally live safely underground or in a building where the fallout may not penetrate. This means they can still survive inside their dwelling place until the heat and radiation have dissipated enough for them to survive.

If a human was also huddled in a protected area or fallout shelter and survived the initial blast, the human could also wait out the radiation and eventually move back to the surface.

It’s just a lot harder for humans to do that, and would you even want to be alive in such a circumstance?

Some homemade pesticides used to kill a whole colony, such as boric acid, affect roach digestive systems. This will cause them to be unable to consume fluids and, in the long run, seriously dehydrate them, so they will eventually die.

It may also occur that if a cockroach eats another roach that was killed by boric acid, it will be affected the same way.

This took many years of research before finding ways to kill off whole colonies of cockroaches without affecting humans and pets.


Other Interesting Facts

Look at these interesting facts about cockroaches that may make you look at them differently in the future.

1. They Are Among the Oldest Creatures

Cockroaches belong to a species of creatures that existed more than 320 million years ago and are still around. They’re older than the continents!

2. There Are Uncountable Numbers Of Roaches

While only about 30 different cockroach species live around us, there are more than 4,000 different cockroach species worldwide.┬áBecause of their rapid growth rates and quick lifecycle, it’s difficult to really get an estimate of the number of roaches in the world.

3. Cockroaches Are Lazy But Fast

While they spend more than 70 percent of their time resting, they can quickly reach up to 3 mph to scurry out of sight when a light comes on. You will not be able to see them most of the time because of their very sensitive movement and vibration detection system.

4. They Can Eat Almost Anything

Nothing is unhealthy for them to eat, so they will be able to consume anything they can find, especially organic waste. Cockroaches can also go without food for a long time. Even as long as three months, and still survive.

5. They Don’t Need a Head

If you chop off a cockroach’s head, it can survive for up to a week. It can even lay eggs.

6. They Will Not Survive In Space

Because they can not withstand extreme heat or cold, cockroaches will not be able to survive in space for long.

Because they can not withstand extreme heat or cold, cockroaches will not be able to survive in space for long.

7. Cockroaches Are Used For Medicine

The Greeks and Egyptians used to grind them up for medicinal purposes, while in China, they are used to treat certain diseases. Some cultures also praise them for their high nutritional value.


Conclusion

Roaches are incredibly resilient creatures, but cannot survive a direct nuclear blast. The heat would kill any roaches in the vicinity immediately. But they can withstand a lot of radiation and may thrive in the aftermath of a nuclear blast.