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Do Cockroaches Have Eyes?

Since roaches seem so primitive, you may assume they don’t have eyes. 

But is that true?

Yes, Cockroaches do have eyes. In fact, they have four eyes, more than most other animals. However, their eyes are different than humans since they have around 2,000 lenses to see out of, whereas people only have one in each eye. 

Where Are the Eyes on a Cockroach?

Close-up photo of a cockroach facing front.

Well, cockroaches have four eyes, two pairs that are in different places on the head. 

Two of them are simple eyes, called ocelli, and they are on the top of their heads behind their antennas. 

The other two eyes are larger and more complex, and they start at the top of the roach’s head and curb down the sides of the face towards the mouth. 

What Kind of Eyes Do Roaches Have?

Roaches have two types of eyes, which I will discuss below. 

Simple Eyes – Ocelli 

Roaches have two ocelli at the base of their antennas. 

These simple eyes do not show a roach an entire picture as our eyes do. 

Instead, they only allow them to detect changes in light and movement. 

Compound Eyes 

Although some insects only have simple eyes, a cockroach has both simple and complex compound eyes. 

A compound eye is unlike a human eye since it has several lenses. 

In our eyes, we only have one lens per eye, which allows us to see one “picture” at a time. 

However, creatures with compound eyes, like roaches and butterflies, have more than one lens, letting them see many “pictures” at once, although blended into one image

In the case of roaches, they typically have around 2,000 lenses. 

This feature allows them to see in several directions simultaneously, making it harder for predators to sneak up on them. 

Compound eyes also let the roach detect movement better, which makes them hard to catch. 

Can Roaches See in the Dark?

Close-up photo of a cockroach on a green leaf with a black background.

Yes, roaches can see in the dark. 

They can even see in pitch blackness. 

They can do this by using signals from the photoreceptors (light-sensitive cells) in their eyes. 

Yet, roach vision is not that great in the dark, so they use other senses such as touch and smell to understand where they are going and to figure out where they can find food. 

Can Cockroaches See People? 

Yes, cockroaches can see people. 

In fact, they can see us quite well, making it difficult for us to smash them. 

But, you may ask, how exactly do they always seem to know where we are?

Well, of course, as stated above, their compound eyes are excellent at detecting movement, and they allow them to see in many directions. 

However, the ability of their eyes is not the only reason roaches can detect people trying to sneak up on them. 

You see, a cockroach has eyes on the top of its head, unlike most other animals. 

Roaches also have flat bodies. 

When you combine these two features with compound eyes, you get a creature that can see in pretty much every direction at once. 

Therefore, it is practically impossible to sneak up on a cockroach. 

Can a Headless Cockroach See?

Close-up photo of a stick insect eating the cockroach's head.

You may have heard that roaches can live without their heads, and that is true. 

But, if they don’t have heads, how do they see?

Well, they don’t. 

A headless cockroach can not see because it does not have eyes. 

So, instead of seeing, a decapitated roach must use its other senses to get around. 

However, it doesn’t need to do so for long because a roach without a head usually only lives for a few days before dying of dehydration. 

Do Cockroaches Have Ears?

No, cockroaches do not have ears. 

Thus, they can not hear in the traditional sense. 

Rather, they use hairs on their legs to pick up vibrations, which they use to make sense of the sounds in their environment. 

Do Roaches Have Mouths?

Close-up photo of a cockroach on a rock and a blurred spider in front with a yellow background.

Yes, roaches have mouths, and they need them to eat. 

A roach’s mouth is at the bottom of its head and points towards the floor. 

Do Roaches Breathe Through Their Mouths? 

No, roaches do not breathe through their mouths or even their noses. 

Roaches breathe through tiny holes along their bodies called spiracles. 

The oxygen then travels in their tracheal system, which is a series of tubes that deliver oxygen to their cells. 

This system is actually more efficient than the way humans must transport oxygen around their bodies in their blood. 

And because of the tracheal system’s efficiency, roaches only need to breathe every few minutes. 

Do Roaches Have Teeth?

No, roaches do not have teeth in the way that humans and many other animals, like cats and dogs, have teeth. 

Instead, roaches use their mandibles to gnaw on food and break it down to a digestible size. 

Do Roaches Bite?

Roaches do bite on occasion. 

They usually only bite people when they are asleep since cockroaches do not like to get close to alert humans because they know we often smash them. 

Typically, roaches bite people if they are hungry and are trying to see if they are edible. 

However, if you want to be technical, roaches don’t actually bite. 

Instead, they use their mandibles to gnaw on us like they would any other food. 

Yet, although these aren’t actually bites, they can be painful and itchy. 

What Do Cockroach Antennas Do? 

Close-up photo of a cockroach facing front with a blue background.

Since you’ve probably heard people call antennas “feelers,” you may think that the insects only use them to feel. 

And yes, cockroaches do use their antennas to feel things in front of them, but that is not their only use. 

Antennas also allow cockroaches to smell, which helps them find food and interpret pheromones from other roaches. 

Additionally, cockroaches’ antennas can help them sense changes in air pressure and movement, which assists them in figuring out what is near them and if it is a threat. 

Of course, they could use their eyes to do this, and they do, but antennas give them extra protection from potential dangers. 

Antennas pick up on vibrations as well, which also helps them sense the world around them by allowing them to detect movement and loud noises. 

Lastly, antennas let cockroaches feel the weather and even predict when a storm is approaching. 

They can feel the weather through their antennas since they have sensors that help them determine the temperature and humidity around them. 

But more interestingly, they can also feel changes in barometric pressure, which lets them know when a storm is coming their way. 

What Do the Cerci Do on a Roach?

You may have never heard of them, but cerci are extra feelers on the back of a roach’s abdomen. 

Similar to antennas, cerci allow the roach to feel changes in the air, such as when something is coming near them. 

And when a roach feels a change in the air, its legs immediately start running before the nerve signals can even reach its brain. 


Roaches do have eyes, but they are not like human eyes. 

Rather than having eyes that see one “picture,” roach eyes see thousands of different images, allowing them to view more of the world around them at once. 

Roaches also do not breathe, smell, or hear in the same way that people and most other animals do.