Life Cycle Stages
All cockroaches develop by completing a life cycle consisting of three distinct stages: egg, nymph, and adult.
The cockroach life cycle starts with the production of eggs. Adult females produce between 10 and 40 eggs at a time, which they carry in specialized cases called ootheca.
Generally shaped like a kidney bean or purse, the egg case is either carried by the mother or placed in a protected location until hatching.
After carrying the capsule around on her abdomen for a species-specific amount of time, the female deposits the egg capsule in a protected location preferably near a food source.
Nymph to Adult
Newly hatched cockroaches emerge from eggs as nymphs.
During the nymphal stage of the cockroach life cycle, the insects grow by shedding their skin multiple times until reaching adulthood, a process known as molting.
After each molt, the developing cockroaches become soft-bodied and white before eventually getting larger, getting darker in color and hardening off.
The rate at which cockroaches mature into fully developed adults depends on factors like species and the conditions of the surrounding environment.
In favorable conditions, cockroach nymphs can reach adulthood in a matter of weeks.
Developmental Details Vary by Species
While cockroaches all complete the same three phases of development, specific elements of the life cycle vary according to species.
The prolific German cockroach, for example, produces 30 to 40 eggs per ootheca and carries the egg case for the duration of the incubation period, while the brownbanded cockroach lays about 13 to 18 eggs at a time and attaches the protective capsule to inconspicuous objects or surfaces.
Oriental and American cockroaches also leave their egg cases in protected places. Cockroach eggs generally hatch within 20 to 60 days, depending on the species, with German cockroaches experiencing the shortest incubation period.
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