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How To Know if a Roach Is Dead

How To Know If A Roach Is Dead

As you live in the comforts of your room, you may have unwanted guests come from time to time. And one of them is the cockroach.

These pests can be nasty, contaminating your food and kitchen utensils and reproducing very fast. That is why people try their best to eliminate them.

Unfortunately, cockroaches are very resilient animals. They can survive for about a month without food and a week without water.

They are also impossible to drown and are resistant to radiation.

In this article, you will learn to be sure if a roach is dead.


Cockroaches are nasty pests. So you want to ensure they are dead when you try to kill them.

Below are some ways you can tell these insects are dead:

  • Check if other cockroaches surround the corpse.
  • Touch the corpse.
  • Check the location of the corpse.
  • Ensure the insecticide nozzle sprays a mist.

If you want to know how to tell if a cockroach is dead, the information below should help:

4 Ways To Ensure a Cockroach Is Dead

Ways To Ensure A Cockroach Is Dead

If you see an unmoving cockroach in your home, don’t turn your back on it. It could just be playing dead, a behavior called:

  • Tonic immobility
  • Apparent death
  • Playing possum

It is an evolutionary trait meant to deceive predators. Some will do it as a survival tactic.

But there are cases when it’s just involuntary action. So even if a roach wanted to, it couldn’t move. It’s most likely a shock and will typically happen if you spray them with insecticide.

Roaches can play dead for nearly a week, but they need to have sufficient food around them to be healthy.

However, they can’t last long when you spray them with insecticide.

So below are some of the telltale signs that a cockroach is dead.

1. Check if There Are Other Roaches Nearby

Check If There Are Other Roaches Nearby

It might sound gruesome, but cockroaches can become cannibals. If other roaches are surrounding a corpse, it’s most likely dead.

While this is not their first instinct, they’ll only resort to cannibalism to:

  • Get energy in freezing and other harsh conditions.
  • Reduce the population.
  • Absorb nutrients they are deficient with.

That said, cockroaches will not instantly eat their dead the moment it dies.

During death, roaches will release a foul odor of oleic acid to warn others of the potential danger. After it fades and there are hungry cockroaches nearby, they’ll bypass the warning and eat the corpse.

But seeing other roaches eat another means you might be dealing with more. So it would be best to check if you have an infestation.

2. Touch It Very Carefully

Touch It Very Carefully

You can poke a dead cockroach with a shoe, a gloved hand, or a pen to know if it’s dead.

Never touch the roach with your bare hand. It can carry disease-causing bacteria that can get onto your skin. Even the dead ones can be a health hazard.

So, bring an insecticide or a shoe on your other hand. That way, if it latches on to the pen or whatever you are poking it with, you can hit it again.

If the cockroach moves but is not running away, it could be pretending to be dead. Even with temporary paralysis, a cockroach’s nervous system will remain active. And can respond to stimuli.

So double tap just to be sure!

3. Check Where It Supposedly Died

Check Where It Supposedly Died

If a roach is floating in the water, there’s a good possibility that it’s still alive. Cockroaches can’t swim, but they are difficult to drown.

So if you find one floating in a bucket, don’t celebrate just yet. It could have been treading in the water for quite some time and is just holding still until it can find a way out.

It also lets them conserve energy and avoid detection from other predators.

If you find a cockroach near a food source and is motionless, it may not be dead either.

Roaches can prolong tonic immobility for days, especially if it has eaten a big meal beforehand.

While cockroaches like organic food, other sources they can eat for nutrients are:

  • Glue
  • Clay
  • Soap
  • Paint

Another thing you should double-check is when stomping one to death.

It’s easy to assume a cockroach is dead once you stomp on it. But most often than not, cockroaches will only be stunned. So when you return to take out the corpse, it may already run away.

4. Check the Nozzle of Your Insecticide Can

Check The Nozzle Of Your Insecticide Can

A cockroach can easily die when it inhales poison, but not so much if you cover them in neurotoxin.

So to ensure that you can kill a cockroach, the nozzle must spray a fine mist.

That way, it can reach the roach’s nervous system by permeating through the closed spiracles.

Some sprays will only spray in chunks. And most of the time, it can only stun the cockroaches.


Cockroaches cannot come back to life. But they are very resilient animals. So much so that you may need to double-check to find out if it died.

You can check where the roach died and if others surround the corpse or touch it carefully to see if it’s still alive.

If you know anyone who has cockroaches in their home, sharing this article should tell them how to know if a roach is dead.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Dead Roaches Harmful?

Yes, coming into contact with dead roaches can put you at risk of:

  • Typhoid fever
  • Dysentery
  • Diarrhea
  • Cholera

So, it would be best to wash the part of your body that came into contact with the roach immediately.

Are Dead Roaches a Good Sign?

Unfortunately, a dead roach does not mean an infestation is dying. Cockroaches come out at night to forage for water and food. But not all can make it back to the nest. So if you see a dead one, there could be an infestation.

When Do Cockroaches Play Dead?

Cockroaches will play dead when they are in a vulnerable situation like when they are in extreme temperatures, you spray them with insecticide, or you stomp on them.

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