Interestingly enough, there’s a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to cockroach noises and sounds. For such notorious household pests, they sure seem to have people confused!
This guide will go over the various cockroach sounds you might hear, and dispel any myths about the noises they can make.
Table of contents
- Do Cockroaches Make Noise?
- Why They Make Noise
- What Is Stridulation?
- What Types Of Cockroaches Are The Noisiest?
- Listening For Different Cockroach Sounds
- Do Cockroaches Make A Buzzing Sound?
- Is It Possible To Hear Them Inside Walls?
- Why It’s More Common To Hear Them At Night
- Are Cockroach Sounds The Sign Of An Infestation?
Do Cockroaches Make Noise?
While these pests have a reputation for being discreet and flying under the radar, cockroaches can make certain noises when they become active. Like any other living creature, roaches are capable of producing noise when they interact with their environment. Specific actions might create distinct and recognizable sounds (more on that later).
However, the good news is that many of those noises are subtle and difficult to hear.
You see, household roach species have largely lost their ability to make sounds. There are well over 4,000 cockroach species globally, but only a handful are known to invade homes.
While wild cockroaches can sometimes vocalize to communicate, common household bugs do not. Instead, they rely on pheromones to do the talking. The pests you see running around your home have adapted to living in the shadows.
As a result, they prefer to stay as quiet as possible, with a few exceptions.
Why They Make Noise
There are a few different reasons why a cockroach might start making noises.
One of the most common is self-defense. Not every cockroach that enters your home is part of the same nest or colony. The sudden crossing of paths is bound to happen!
When this occurs, roaches sometimes make noise to claim dominance. For example, these bugs might use sound to indicate their size. A larger cockroach may do this to ensure that any smaller insects in the area know who’s boss.
Quick Tip: If the interaction leads to an altercation, you can sometimes hear the sound of a scuffle. The bugs might make noise as they fight, but those are largely unintentional.
Finally, roaches also make noise to attract mates. Again, this act is rare for household roaches. But if you live in a rural area, it’s possible to hear wild cockroaches attempting courtship.
What Is Stridulation?
Stridulation is a form of noise-making that many insects use. The behavior is most commonly observed in bugs like crickets and beetles. However, cockroaches can participate in the behavior as well!
Simply put, it’s the act of rubbing body parts together to make a sound.
In the case of roaches, it’s the pronotum grinding against the costal veins. The pronotum is the plate-like structure that covers part of the thorax. Meanwhile, the costal veins are ridges on the edges of the wing.
When the rough wing edges glide across the smooth pronotum, it produces a signature chirping sound. The resulting cockroach noise is nowhere near as loud as a cricket’s, but it’s still quite effective for mating.
Quick Tip: Only male cockroaches can stridulate, and it’s almost exclusively used for attracting females.
What Types Of Cockroaches Are The Noisiest?
As mentioned earlier, most household cockroach species aren’t going to make a ton of noise. Neither German or American cockroaches are known to produce any significant noise (unless you’re listening closely). Oriental roaches aren’t either. The only exception is during mating.
Believe it or not, only one cockroach species is famous for its noise-making abilities. The Madagascar hissing cockroach uses its breathing holes to produce an audible hiss.
The breathing holes, called spiracles, are a little different from those found in other species. When threatened, the insect will push air through the spiracles. They might also make this noise when coming across other insects to assert dominance.
This cockroach noise is quite loud and audible in most conditions.
Fortunately, most people won’t ever encounter a Madagascar hissing roach at home. They’re endemic to the forests of Madagascar.
Listening For Different Cockroach Sounds
Concerned about mystery noises you hear at night?
There are many misconceptions about cockroach sounds and what sort of noise they’re capable of producing. While they can produce some subtle sounds, most of the things people hear are actually cases of mistaken identity.
Contrary to popular belief, cockroaches don’t make noise when they’re moving at an average walking pace.
These insects lack the weight to cause any reach disturbance as they move. Their six legs are nimble and agile, allowing them to navigate without producing many vibrations at all.
Quick Tip: Even the most astute listeners, such as cats and dogs, rarely hear roaches when they’re walking. The only way you’d be able to listen to these insects walking is if they were moving through a super delicate surface like thin foil.
It’s rare to hear roaches walking, but running is a different story.
These creatures can scurry across the floor at blazing speeds (relative to their size). They cover a lot of ground in a brief moment!
While their feet are quick and relatively graceful, you can sometimes hear their little legs scurrying as they try to escape. Certain surfaces will amplify the sound to make things even more audible.
Overall, the sound is still subtle and challenging to hear under normal circumstances. It all depends on the environment! Chances are, your pets will hear them running before you do.
But in everyday life, you probably won’t be able to notice their scurrying unless it’s done by several roaches at the same time.
Roaches have a healthy appetite for just about anything. Seriously, anything that we find disgusting is probably on the menu for them!
Thanks to a pair of sharp mandibles, cockroaches have no problem getting through both soft and hard foods. But does the act of eating make any noise?
In most situations, it does not. The mandibles are small and precise. Cockroaches take small bites and eat efficiently to avoid waste. As a result, hearing cockroach noise while they’re eating is rare.
Quick Tip: That said, you might notice some subtle sounds if you have good hearing (or happen to be near a cockroach that’s having a snack). Crispier food sources like paper or chips sometimes crunch with every bite.
Did you know that most roach species have fully developed wings?
Thankfully, not all cockroaches can use those wings to fly. There are only a few species that take to the skies. One is the palmetto bug.
Flying roaches can reach fast speeds as well. During the flight, they can reportedly go as fast as 3.4 miles per hour.
If you listen very closely, you can sometimes hear their wings fluttering. You might notice some sound as they lift off and land, too.
The noisiest scenario is when a flying cockroach ends up on its back. To get back up, it’ll flap its wings sporadically. This is a pretty jarring act that will undoubtedly garner attention.
However, for most flights those sounds mostly go unnoticed by humans. Thanks to their refined hearing, cats and dogs are more likely to notice flying roaches before humans do.
Hissing is pretty rare unless you’re dealing with the Madagascar hissing cockroach.
Technically speaking, several roach species can make that hissing noise. However, it’s much quieter and doesn’t occur as often as it does with the Madagascar roach.
These insects mostly make hissing noises when threatened by others. They do it by forcing air through the spiracles on their body. Some will make the noise rhythmically to produce a distinct sound (some people call it screaming but we disagree).
Either way, the hissing sound is very subdued which means you might not hear it unless you’re nearby.
Roaches can make a subtle chirping sound through stridulation. The rubbing of two body parts creates strong vibrations that you might hear if you listen closely enough.
That said, you’re not going to hear this inside your home. Stridulation and chirping are things that only occur with wild cockroaches outside.
There are no roach species that are known to make clicking noises. The closest thing to clicking is the chirping from stridulation. Anything that sounds sharp and distinct is usually another pest.
Quick Tip: Many people mistake the sounds of the clicking beetle with cockroaches. While they may live near each other, they are two different insects.
Do Cockroaches Make A Buzzing Sound?
Roaches might make a soft buzzing sound when they fly. The noise is usually missed by humans unless you have a fantastic sense of hearing and you’re paying close attention.
So in general, it’s a cockroach noise that typically only gets noticed by nearby animals.
Is It Possible To Hear Them Inside Walls?
There’s nothing more spine-tingling than the thought of hearing cockroaches crawling inside the walls.
Fortunately, it’s not an experience most people will have.
Walls are well-insulated and do a fantastic job of stopping cockroach sound vibrations from resonating throughout your home. Well-built walls aren’t going to let you hear roaches. Some won’t even transmit sounds from large rats!
But there are some exceptions.
Thinner panelized walls tend to amplify noise more than drywall.
You also might hear the sound of cockroaches in your walls if you’re dealing with a more extensive infestation. A massive colony is going to make a lot more noise than a few stray cockroaches.
The materials inside your walls matter as well.
Fiberglass insulation does a fine job of dampening noise. You’re not going to detect those tiny legs scurrying around. But if there’s loose paper, there’s a real possibility that you could hear roaches.
Paper lining can dry out and become brittle. If it’s touching the walls the right way, vibrations could easily transfer.
Ultimately, it all depends on your home’s build quality and the size of the cockroach infestation. Listening closely could help you uncover the presence of roaches. But in typical situations, you’re unlikely to hear anything at all.
Why It’s More Common To Hear Them At Night
If you’re unlucky enough to notice the sounds of cockroaches, you’ve probably noticed that it only occurs at night.
Why is that?
Well, roaches are nocturnal. They’re a lot more active at night than during the day. With more movement comes the potential for more noise and sounds!
Another reason why it’s more common to hear these pests once the sun goes down is that things are generally quieter as it is. During the day, there are tons of distractions and extraneous sounds.
Come dusk, those disturbances calm down, and the world gets a little more peaceful. Your ears become tuned to the quieter environment, which makes every little sound seem more amplified than usual.
Are Cockroach Sounds The Sign Of An Infestation?
When many homeowners think they hear cockroaches, they automatically go into panic mode!
Contrary to popular belief, hearing roaches doesn’t automatically mean you’re dealing with a pest infestation.
In the vast majority of cases, those sounds you’re hearing aren’t roaches at all! Remember, household cockroach species don’t produce the same amount of noise as outdoor wild varieties. The sounds they do make are far too subtle for most people to hear.
Unless you’re actively listening, you’re unlikely to hear much at all.
Now, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the problem! You could very well have a few roaches hiding out in your home.
If you’re concerned, it’s always a good idea to take some safety precautions. You can look for other signs of an infestation yourself, or even hire an exterminator to perform an inspection if you feel like cockroaches are trying to invade your domain.
Mysterious sounds aren’t enough to diagnose a roach infestation. You can use the noise as an excuse to get a thorough inspection, but sounds alone are not a reliable indicator of a cockroach problem.
You should now know that cockroaches do make noise, but it’s usually quite hard to actually hear them. However, understanding the kind of sounds they make will help you identify them and take action if required.
If you hear something, take the time to verify that you have a roach problem before getting concerned. There’s usually no need to panic!