Are Cockroaches Attracted to Sunlight?

A cockroach with a light shining on it.

Are cockroaches attracted to sunlight? This question has perplexed some entomologists who have observed some species being attracted to light. Those species are also relatively rare, so the answer to the question is, “it’s complicated, but the most likely answer is no”.


Are cockroaches nocturnal?


Most cockroach species are nocturnal. This is especially true for the pest species we’re likely to encounter in our homes. Being active at night gives them an evolutionary advantage – they are far more likely to stay alive while the biggest danger to their existence (read “humans) is asleep.

This is also part of the reason why you rarely see any roaches during the day and you notice them almost exclusively at night. The peculiar adaptive mechanism of these pesky insects is also the cause of their ever-expanding infestations. If we could find out we had a cockroach infestation sooner, we would be able to do something about it in a timely manner.

Their propensity to seek damp and dark places does not automatically mean they are afraid of the light as some people would postulate.

There are species of cockroaches who prefer the daytime but they differ from what most people imagine in the mention of the word “cockroach”. There are some really colourful and beautiful species that thrive during the day and are only found in nature. In other words, their natural habitat would not allow them to survive in human settlements.


Are cockroaches afraid of light?


We’ve all experienced the “amazing” sensation of flipping the light switch on and having a bunch of small black raisins running around in terror. It’s a really unpleasant occurrence, which causes many people to (inaccurately) believe that cockroaches are afraid of light. This is not the case and leaving the light on would not prevent them from entering a room.

What they’re actually scared of is the sudden shift in the environment which causes them to run in disarray. They don’t know what is going on, so they panic and run for safety (and safety is in the shadows as they instinctively know).

There is a lot of conflicting information on the topic online and many publications would let you to believe that cockroaches, indeed, are afraid of light which is simply not true. Yes, most species prefer dark places. They have evolved in such a way that they “know” being in the shadows, in small, narrow places is beneficial for their survival. It also makes breeding easier and hoarding food – a lot simpler. That being said, there is no evidence to suggest they fear light and if driven to the brink of survival (or overpopulation) they absolutely go out during the day.

We mentioned already that some species are actually attracted to light (which is rare). The most prominent example would be the Asian cockroaches. They are a nocturnal flying insect (which would suggest they are not attracted to direct sunlight, but rather moonlight) and many people’s worst nightmare. Because they confuse other sources of light with the moon, they might enter your home if you have your TV or a light on.

Asian cockroaches breed just as quickly as other species and have absolutely no qualms about making your home their permanent residence. Only it’s a lot harder to kill a cockroach with a slipper when they can actually fly.

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