|Feeder Hissing Cockroach Biology
Cockroaches consists of 14 Families which contains more or less
3 500 species. Modern entomologists use the term Hexapoda (hex"sah-pod'ah
- hexa meaning six) as a more inclusive class name. Hexapods
(insects) are characterized by having three pairs of legs. Some
have wings and the body is divided into a head, thorax and
abdomen. Insecta is used as a more restricted term referring to
hexapods whose mouthparts are more or less exposed. Hissing
cockroaches belong to the Superorder Exopterygota (eks-op-ter-i-go'tah)
meaning they are hemimetabolous or have incomplete metamorphosis
and to the Order Blattaria (blat-tar'eah) denoting an oval and
flattened body and a concealed head when looking from above. The
head is protected by a shield-like extension of the prothorax.
Basic Hissing Cockroach Anatomy
As mentioned above, the body of Hissing cockroaches are divided
into a head, thorax and abdomen. The part of the thorax that is
just behind the head is called the prothorax. The antennae are
long, whip-like structures found on the head.
Hissing cockroaches have thousands of tiny hairs on the last segment of
their legs (tarsi) which increases the overall contact area to
to surface they walk on. This makes it possible for them to have
a tight grip on almost any surface and make them able to climb
almost any vertical surface including plastic and glass.
Hissing Cockroach Distribution & Natural Environment
Hissing cockroaches originates from the central, tropical areas
of the world. Although the name implies that they are mainly
found in the forests of Madagascar, they have also established
themselves in other climatic zones mainly as the result of
transport. They are ground dwelling insects which are like most
cockroaches mainly active at night (nocturnal). During the day
they hide under forest debris like leafs, pieces of bark and
rocks where they establish themselves in suitable habitats or
All cockroaches are known to establish themselves in human homes
where they are attracted to and lives from animal and human
Hissing Cockroach Life Cycle
Female hissing cockroaches lay their eggs in a purse-like capsule or
egg case known as the ootheca. This capsule is retained within
the body of the female. While the ootheca is formed it is
extruded and visible to the naked eye, but once it is completely
formed she will retract it into a special cavity in the caudal
tip of her abdomen. The egg case will remain in the female body
for about sixty days until the eggs hatch, where the young will be
This means that when you breed Hissing cockroaches the "gravid"
females can be left with the rest of the roach colony without
any problems. Under optimal conditions new born roaches will not
be consumed by the adults which makes it possible to keep all
the life stages in the same container.
Nymphs must grow and moult or shed their skin several times
before they reach adulthood. They will usually moult six times
during the course of their lives. The last moult occurs about
five months after birth. After the last moult the nymphal
roaches become sexually mature adults. Adult roaches never moult
again and may live for two or more years.
Sexing Hissing Cockroaches
Adults can be sexed by any one of three methods:
The easiest way to sex hissing cockroaches is to look at the
thorax. In both sexes the upper surface of this prothorax is
developed into two protuberances. This protrusions are slight in
females and stand out in the males.
The second way is to look at the feelers or antennae. Adult
males have antennae with many laterally-projecting sensory
hairs, which gives it a fuzzy look, especially near the base.
The antennae of the female lack these hairs.
The third way of determining sex is to look at the tip of the
abdomen where there is a ventral plate. In the male this plate
is much narrower when compared to the female. Some literature
also suggests that females have raised abdomens.