How Many Legs Do Cockroaches Have?

Insects are a diverse group of animals with different shapes and sizes. They can be as small as gnats or as large as fearsome giant waterbugs. Cockroaches are one of the most common household pests that are found all over the world, but especially in urban areas like New York City. 

But there are lots of bugs that get confused with cockroaches, including silverfish, waterbugs, termites, etc. One way of telling the bugs apart is the number of legs.

How many legs do cockroaches have? Roaches have six legs, as well as two antennae and four palps (short arms that help them eat).

This article will explore what cockroaches look like and how to identify them by their legs. 

How Many Legs Do Cockroaches Have? What Do They Look Like?

Cockroaches have a hard exoskeleton, which is covered with spikey bristles. They are usually brown or dark brown in color and have flattened bodies which enable them to move quickly. The roach’s body is divided into three sections: head, thorax, and abdomen. 

Cockroaches have a hard exoskeleton, which is covered with bristles. They are usually brown or dark brown in color.

The head and thorax are fused together to form the cephalothorax, which also contains small ocelli and compound eyes. The head has antennae and compound eyes that can see in all directions. The pair of antennae are used for sensing the environment and detecting food.

Also attached to the head are four palps, of two different lengths. There are two longer ones that act somewhat like arms, and two very short ones. These help the roach consume food.

The cockroach’s head is at the front of the body, while the thorax is in between the head and abdomen.

Well… the roaches head is usually at the front of the body. But they can live for quite a while without a head, so you may occasionally find a headless one.

The abdomen is located at the back of their body and has ten segments. It contains vital organs for digestion as well as reproductive organs for males and females.

The last segment is called the pygidium or tail, which contains muscles that enable it to move quickly away from danger (or toward danger!) when needed. 

There are also two small sensory hairs on the front wings near their mouthparts which help them detect chemicals around them.

The shape of the cockroach is not just grotesque, but it also happens to be iconic. 

The Structure of the Cockroach’s Leg

The cockroach has six legs. They are all connected to the same body segment called the prothorax. Cockroaches have evolved a complex locomotion system that allows them to move in any direction and with great speed.

This has allowed them to occupy almost every habitat on Earth, including those with high levels of radiation.

A cockroach leg is composed of a series of segments, each with its joint and muscles. The joints allow the legs to bend at various angles while the muscles contract and relax at different times during movement. This combination allows for great speed and agility in all directions.

Cockroach legs are made of a combination of proteins, chitin, and keratin. 

The tarsus is the uppermost segment of the leg and is made up of a thin layer of chitin. The tibia is the lowermost segment of the leg, and it is made up of two layers of keratin and a mineral called calcium carbonate.

The femur is located between those two segments, which are made of calcium phosphate. 

The Importance of Roach Legs

Cockroaches’ legs are long and thin, so they can easily run up walls. They can run up to 5 miles per hour and have a top speed of 10 miles per hour. Their legs are also tough, which makes them difficult to break.

Besides, it is not only a structural part but also a sensory organ and a lung! Yes, roaches breathe through their legs, through organs called spiracles. 

Cockroaches’ legs are long and thin, so they can easily run up walls. They can run up to 5 miles per hour.

All six legs have a lot of sensory organs that help them sense their surroundings and detect danger to avoid it.

Cockroaches have a leg with a sharp, spur-like structure at the end. This structure is covered with many hairs that can help cockroaches grip surfaces. 

Types of Cockroaches

There are many types of cockroaches, but all of them have six legs. There are some species of cockroaches that have both wings and antennae. These species include the Madagascar hissing cockroach, the large German cockroach, and the American cockroach. 

Some species of roaches can fly or glide with their wings. The largest winged roach is the giant wood roach from Australia. Its wings are about 2 inches long. The following are the most common species of cockroaches:

  • German cockroach – Blattella germanica
  • American cockroach – Periplaneta americana
  • Oriental cockroach – Blatta orientalis

Difference Between Male and Female Cockroach Structure

Female cockroaches are bigger than males due to their reproductive organs. They have a long, narrow body and are about 3/8 inch long (though this varies by species). Males have a shorter, broader body and relatively large wings. The size of a male cockroach is usually about 1/4 inch long, depeding on the species. 

The jointed cerci of the female cockroach is a unique feature that helps distinguish the sexes. The male cockroach has long, whip-like cerci that are pointed at one end and flat at the other. The female’s cerci are short, broad, and rounded like a spade.

The jointed cerci is a structural feature that is a pair of fused spines located on the end of the abdomen.

Furthermore, the male cockroach’s body contains 18-19 segments. In comparison, the female body contains 13-14 segments. Male cockroaches have a wingspan of about 4-5 millimeters, while female cockroaches have blunted wings. Therefore, male cockroaches can fly up to 10 meters in the air. 

In contrast, the female cockroaches usually stay on the ground and move around slowly. The antennae of female roaches are longer and thinner than male roaches. This difference in the structure of the antennae is due to the different mating behaviors between males and females. 

Hence, antennae play a significant role in how male and female cockroaches communicate with each other during mating. Female roaches have more sensitive olfactory organs, which allows them to detect pheromones released by males. 

Females use these pheromones to find the best place for mating with a male. Male roaches use their antennae to detect these pheromones as well as other important information such as food sources, shelter, or potential mates. 


The roach’s six leg design has a significant role in its survival success. Their leg is an important adaptation as it allows the roach to climb up walls, run across ceilings, and seemingly defy gravity.

According to a study, their feet are covered with up to 25,000 hairs that help them easily grip surfaces.