Can Roaches Drown? – Do Cockroaches Die In Water

Although pesticides may effectively eliminate cockroaches, they pose a potential risk to human safety, as indicated by the EPA. Additionally, the repeated use of insecticides can lead to cockroaches building up a resistance, making it difficult to eradicate them. One may wonder, in a more traditional approach, is drowning a viable option for controlling cockroaches? Is it possible to physically drown a cockroach?

Hence, when there’s a cockroach infestation in your house, you can’t help but think of some creative ways of getting rid of the pests. And one idea that has most probably hit your mind is, what if you could trap them underwater?

This article explains if cockroaches can drown and the common FAQs associated with it. We also look at other chemical-free ways of removing cockroaches from your residence.

Can Roaches Drown?

Yes, cockroaches can drown in water. Just like any oxygen breathing organism, if roaches are underwater for a long enough period, they will drown. When they are surrounded by water, their bodies will fill with water which will prevent them from breathing, killing them.

can roaches drown

Can Cockroaches Swim Underwater?

Cockroaches don’t know how to swim. However, their extremely light bodies allow them to float in the water for as long as they want.

Similarly, cockroaches can’t swim when they’re underwater. It’s just that they can hold their breath for long periods by blocking their spiracles (similar to lungs).

Remember, unlike humans, roaches don’t only inhale from their noses. Even when their head is submerged in water, they can still get oxygen from the breathing holes in their other body segments, including feet, back, etc.

What About Oriental Cockroaches?

Many people may argue that an oriental cockroach can swim. Well, it’s not true- oriental cockroaches originated from the Black and Caspian seas, so they’re just naturally attracted to damp places and spend more time in the water.

On the other hand, these species can hold their breath for longer than German and American cockroaches.

How Long Can Cockroaches Hold Their Breath?

Cockroaches can hold their breath for up to 40 minutes. Similarly, they can stay submerged in water for about half an hour.

But do note that sometimes roaches may die faster inside water if their body is weak.

Furthermore, cockroaches survive longer in cold water than in hot water. As you can see, their bodies start experiencing fatal heat exposure in temperatures more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Couple that with the slowed-down metabolism when underwater, the pests will die faster when the water is hot.

So, Can You Kill Cockroaches By Drowning Them?

Technically yes, but it would involve holding them underwater for between 30 minutes and an hour.

Roaches are adaptable creatures and actually use water puddles and sinks as hiding places.

Now, to kill them, you would have to catch each of them, drop them inside a bucket full of water, and close the bucket with a lid up to half an hour. But that’s really cumbersome, given that there are easier ways of getting rid of roaches.

Can Roaches Swim?

Some species of roaches can “swim”. Although they generally survive in water by simply floating rather than actively swimming. They aren’t strong swimmers but they can survive calm water.

Reasons Cockroaches Like Water

Regardless of the species, you’ll notice that cockroaches like being in places near water sources. There are several reasons for this, including:

Survival Instinct

First things first, roaches need food, water, and shelter to survive, and if they have these things, roaches can live for quite a while! And they’re very good at finding everything at once- hence, they will invade rooms (especially kitchens, bathrooms, and toilet) where they can get all three of them. It’s often wondered if cockroaches can ever go extinct.


Did you know that roaches survive almost thirty days without eating? Contrarily, they can only go for a week without water.

Having been around the world for millions of years, cockroaches know what they need to survive and like staying close to those things. And water is very important for them.

Hiding Spots

Rooms with a lot of moisture and water also have many holes and other hiding places. Furthermore, homeowners rarely check the water inside drains or sinks, so roaches like living in those places. Here’s our guide on how to get roaches out of a hiding spot!

Presence of Mold

Did you know that cockroaches like taking a bite or two out of paper and wood when needed? Well, these pests are attracted to the smell of mold, since mold has organic matter that can break those paper and wood and make them easier to digest.

And if you didn’t know, excessive moisture causes mold.

Do Cockroaches Lay Eggs Underwater?

Cockroaches lay their eggs in an ootheca, also known as egg casing. A single ootheca can hold up to 50 eggs, and the female likes moving its ootheca regularly to keep it safe from predators.

While cockroaches don’t take the ootheca underwater, depending on the species, they may deposit their eggs near a water source.

By the way, you must know what the roach eggs look like and where they’re most likely to be found if you have an infestation in your house:

German Cockroach

German cockroaches tend to be very protective of their eggs; the mother carries them everywhere she goes. The ootheca is brown and is about 6 to 9mm in length.

The eggs are generally found in cervices and sinks and in places that’re humid, dark, and warm.

American Cockroach

Contrary to a german cockroach, an American cockroach’s ootheca is glued to a single surface. The egg casings are dark brown and are laid in places like tables and furniture that match their color.

Oriental Cockroach

Oriental cockroach eggs are dark red and appear slightly inflated. You will find them near food and water sources, and they can be up to 10 mm in length.

What are Water Roaches?

Water roaches are simply another name given to peridomestic (American and oriental) cockroaches. They primarily live outdoors but can still infest a house and spread germs like other cockroaches (brown-banded and german). Learn more about the different types of roaches.

Since water roaches are from the wild, they tend to be more carefree and spend more time in the water than the ‘domestic’ species.

Reasons There are Water Cockroaches in Your House

There are many things that can attract cockroaches into your home. Here are some reasons you have water cockroaches in your home:

Note: This information applies to every other roaches.

Open Windows and Cracks

Roaches don’t appear out of nowhere; they need places to crawl inside your home. And for that, they will look for crevices in the building and open doors or windows. They can also get in through pipes or even the house’s chimney.

Food Lying Around

Cockroaches have evolved to steal food from anywhere they can find. Furthermore, despite being small, their antennas are powerful and can food from long distances. You don’t need to have a lot of food out in the open- even crumbs can attract roaches in your home.

Unsanitary Environment

Dirty homes are havens for roaches, as they have everything the pests need to survive. First, there’s food (cockroaches can also feed on feces and sweat), and then there are plenty of hiding areas with things lying all around. Furthermore, roaches like bad smells, and they especially love floating in dirty water.

Ways to Get Rid of Cockroach Infestation

Getting rid of cockroaches from your house boils down to four essential steps:

  1. Seal
  2. Clean
  3. Exterminate
  4. and Prevent


Before anything, you’ll need to ensure that every pathway from which the roaches can enter has been blocked. This includes sealing wall voids, door ducts and crevices, and fixing leaky pipes. You’ll also need to avoid leaving an open window since palmetto bugs (American cockroaches) can fly in from there.


Devoiding cockroaches of food, water, and shelter should be your utmost priority if you want to drive them out. And the best way of doing so is by keeping your house clean at all times:

  • Wash your dishes as soon as possible after eating
  • Regularly vacuum for any crumbs, and always store leftover food properly in a refrigerator or in jars with lids so that the bugs can’t get to them
  • Never allow mold to form in your house
  • Clean your bathroom regularly to avoid bad smell
  • Make your bed regularly, and remove any clutter such as cardboard boxes or newpapers wherein the roaches can hide
  • Trim your plants and shrubs regularly


Now that you’ve blocked the way and made the surrounding in your home unfavorable to roaches, it’s time to take the crawlers away. Here are some chemical-free and relatively safer procedures you can implement to kill cockroaches:

Baking Soda

Baking soda can cause gases in the cockroach’s stomach, eventually making it burst. However, you’ll need to trick the pests into eating the soda.

For that, you can mix some baking soda with onion or sugar and place it near the places where you’ve noticed roaches. Furthermore, put some water in a bottlecap and close to the bait.

Remember, every home-based method takes some time to work. This means the cockroach won’t die beside the bait; you’ll need to search for its dead body afterwards.

Diatomaceous Earth

A good alternative to the ‘cockroach chalk’, Diatomaceous earth against roaches (DE) consists of pulverized, fossilized algae. You spread the DE on the path of the roaches, and it will dehydrate their bodies when they walk on it.

Ensure that you use food-grade diatomaceous earth.


Borax is another way to dehydrate cockroaches. Similar to baking soda, you’ll need to mix it with white table sugar and sprinkle the mixture in places you’ve seen cockroach activities.

You can also use peanut butter, egg yolks or cocoa powder instead of sugar. Furthermore, sprinkling some baking soda into the mixture can make it stronger. Read our guide on using borax powder for roaches.

Note: Despite being natural, borax is still harmful to pets and kids. Since there’s risk anyway, you can also use boric acid.

Glue Strips

Cockroach glue strips are paper strips with glue that can trap roaches. You put food on them, and as the bugs try to grab the food, they will get stuck on the paper.

Glue strips are very safe in the sense that they don’t have any insecticides. However, they can be a hassle to set up and won’t be able to hold many roaches at once. Furthermore, you’ll need to dispose of the live cockroaches yourself, which will still be trying to move while in the strips.


Repellants are substances that don’t necessarily kill cockroaches but will still chase them away. In other words, roaches can’t stand their smell, so they won’t get near them.

Some popular natural insect repellants include:

Citrus oil

Oil of citrus fruits like lemon and orange don’t only irritate cockroaches but can also drive other insects like bugs, fleas, mites, etc., away.

Garlic Oil

Though roaches generally like pungent smells, they can’t stand garlic. Thus, you can use spread garlic oil in places you don’t want the pests.

If you don’t have garlic oil, you can simply use crushed garlic cloves, even if they may not be as effective.

Catnip Oil

A cockroach’s respiratory system also has a strong reaction to catnip oil. To use it, you can mix it with equal parts of water and rubbing alcohol and spray it in areas with roach activity. Mix it with other essential oil like rosemary oil for a more potent repellant.

Bay Leaves

While bay leaves themselves won’t be able to drive roaches away, crushing them creates some essential oil which has a stronger smell.

Call a Pest Control Expert

Finally, if you don’t have much time or nothing seems to work, you can call a pest control professional. Remember, roaches are one of the hardest pests to get rid of, even more so if you just want to use natural remedies.

In addition, getting rid of the cockroaches completely can take up to months and a lot of effort. In addition, only killing the roaches isn’t enough, you’ll also need to make sure that


After removing the cockroaches, you must ensure they don’t come back. And to do this, all you need to do is repeat the first two steps, i.e., seal your house and clean it regularly.

You may need to consult pest control regularly if you live in areas with a relatively higher number of cockroaches.

Final Thoughts On Cockroaches And Water

Cockroaches have an impressive ability to survive underwater for a long time, even if they aren’t aquatic animals. And while they’ll eventually die when submerged for hours, there are still better (and easier) ways to kill them than making them drown.

You can use natural methods such as baking soda, borax or DE. Furthermore, make sure that your house is clean and there are no leakages or little holes in the house from where the pests can get in.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide on can roaches drown, and I hope it was helpful as you’re battling a roach infestation!


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