• Robert Bate

Can Cockroaches Survive a Nuclear Blast?



We’ve all heard the “factoid” that a cockroach can survive a nuclear blast and whilst cockroaches are supreme survivors and could possibly survive a nuclear blast, in modern contexts, the answer is invariably no.

This nugget of etymological wisdom started to circulate around the 1950’s after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings, though the exact origin of the rumour is still unclear. It wasn’t until the 1960’s that scientists and etymologists actually began to study the effect of radiation on various insect species and small mammal species (mice, in particular). Experiments were done on cockroaches among other insects like wood-boring insects, wasps and flour beetles. It was found that in comparison with these other insects, the cockroach could survive much less radiation.

Radiation is measured by a number of metrics including rad, rem or gray. A human can withstand up to 500-600 rads in a single dose and cockroaches can survive about 10x that amount. The Hiroshima atomic bomb emitted about 10,000 rads so a cockroach would be able to withstand the explosion. In fact,Mythbusters tested this very “myth” and found 10% of the German Cockroaches subjected to 10,000 rads survived, however all the cockroaches died when exposed to 100,000 rads. So perhaps a cockroach could survive a nuclear explosion if our nuclear weapons remain at the same size as Little Boy and Fat Man (name of the bombs dropped on Japan) but alas, billions of dollars worldwide have been invested to make our nuclear weapons more powerful, which would obliterate even the humble cockroach.


Radiation gradually destroys organisms on a cellular level and cells are said to be the most sensitive to radiation when they are dividing, which explains why humans are so vulnerable to radiation; our complex anatomies have millions of dividing and multiplying cells at any one time. Cockroaches on the other hand moult approximately once a week (at most) which makes the window of effect quite small for radiation.

So the answer to the eternal question, can cockroaches survive a nuclear blast is maybe. It would largely depend on the size of the blast and the cockroaches’ distance from ground zero. Now you know!

Mythbusters - Cockroaches outliving a nuclear blast


MythBusters – Death by Drowning?


Help with your cockroach problem?

Having problems with cockroaches? We don’t use a nuclear blast to clear your home of cockroaches but we do use the latest and safest of chemical technology to keep you home safe from these pests. So call Results Home Services now on 3823 2500 and speak to one of our friendly staff about how we can help you make your home cockroach free! We’ve been protecting Brisbane homes for over 25 years so our qualified technicians have the knowledge and experience to protect your home and family from all kinds of pests like cockroaches, rodents and termites.

#cockroach #pestcontrol #nuclearblast

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