Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda (insects, arachnids, and crustaceans)
Class: Insecta
Order: Blattodea (cockroaches and the termites)
Family: Blaberidae (giant cockroaches)

Genus/species: Blaberus giganteus 

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: They have three pairs of legs, and two pairs of wings, the forewings being light brown in colour. Largest neotropical cockroach by weight. A giant cockroach has a flattened, oval body, about 9 cm (3.5 inches) long and 4 cm (1.5 inches) wide. Females are slightly larger than males. They commonly run along the ground, although the adults have wings that are rarely if ever used for flight. They have long, very slender antennae and two sensory organs, called cerci, at the tip of the abdomen.

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DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Central and South America. They prefer dark, damp locations such as caves, rock crevices, tree hollows, and spaces under loose tree bark.

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DIET IN THE WILD: Cockroaches are omnivores and detritivores. Common diet includes bat guano, rotting wood, fruit, seeds, decomposing vegetation, dead insects, and other animals. They help recycle decaying matter on the ground into useful nutrients for plants. 

REPRODUCTION: Females emit a pheromone that induces males to mate. Male courtship rituals include raising wings at right angles to abdomen and making trembling movements with abdomen. After mating, the female B. giganteus will be pregnant for life producing eggs which turn into nymphs which later become adults.

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MORTALITY/LONGEVITY: They can live about 20 months as adults.

PREDATORS:  Army ants kill and eat nymphs.

CONSERVATION:  IUCN: Not Listed; CITES: Not Listed  

Cockroaches dates back over 200-300 million years, and are very adaptable and resilient animals.

REMARKS:  The leg bristles and antennae are used for seeing and feeling, in their dark habitat, while their flat bodies enable them to hide in crevices and underneath rocks. Cockroaches do not have lungs to breathe, but instead they take air in through spiracles, which are tiny holes on the sides of their bodies, and are used to send oxygen to other parts of the body. This allows the cockroach to survive for a period of time without its head, until it dies of infection, starvation or dehydration. When threatened, the giant cockroach is able to produce a foul smell to ward off predators. 

Location: Rainforest Costa Rica CR04 


Toronto Zoo

Encyclopedia of Life

Sreng, L. 1993. Cockroach Mating Behaviours, Sex-Pheromones, and Abdominal Glands (Dictyoptera, Blaberidae). Journal of Insect Behaviour. 6: 715-735.

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