Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Scientific Name: Gromphadorhina portentosa

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Facts

These huge insects push air out of a pair of breathing holes, called spiracles, on the sides of their bodies to make their distinctive hissing noise. They are the only insects that make a hissing sound this way. There are three types of hisses—disturbance hiss, female-attraction hiss, and fighting hiss. The disturbance hiss is the one most people hear. Older nymphs and adults, both male and female will make a hissing noise when handled or disturbed. Females and nymphs only make the disturbance hiss.

Madagascar Hissing cockroaches are one of the largest types of cockroaches in the world. In their natural habitat on the island of Madagascar near Africa, Madagascar Hissing cockroaches like to live in rotting logs. Male Madagascar Hissing cockroaches tell the difference between known males and strangers by the hissing sound they make. Males are more aggressive than females. Males are territorial and fight amongst themselves, ramming and pushing each other with their abdomens and horns. Hissing can be used to relay information about the size of the cockroach making the noise. At the end of the fight, the winner will make a loud hissing sound to declare his victory. Bigger males usually win out against smaller males. Although Madagascar Hissing cockroaches are usually active at night, males can be seen fighting during the day.

Males also hiss when courting females. They mate end to end with the male pushing his abdomen along and under the female’s body until he reaches her abdomen’s end and engages with her.

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Identification

These giant cockroaches are shiny, oval-shaped, and chocolate brown in color with dark orange marks on the abdomen. Adult cockroaches can grow to be up to 4 inches (or 10 centimeters) in length. They have spiky legs for grip and protection. Male Madagascar Hissing cockroaches have thick, hairy antennae and horns on the pronotum. Female Madagscar Hissing cockroaches have smooth antennae and have little bumps instead of horns. Females carry the egg case or ootheca inside and only release nymphs after they have hatched.

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Habitat

These bugs live on the island of Madagascar, off the coast of Africa. Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are large insects without wings. Madagascar Hissing cockroaches like to live in small spaces with places to hide and sticks to climb. They are able to climb glass walls. Many people keep them as pets. Sometimes people breed them in homes and classrooms.

Madagascar Hissing cockroaches eat dead animal debris, ripe fruit, and waste food. When kept as pets, they eat fresh vegetables and any kind of dry dog food or pellet food high in protein. They prefer vegetables to fruit. A little group of Madagascar Hissing cockroaches can consume a whole carrot in 24 hours.

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Life Cycle

Females carry the egg cases for 60 days. The female Madagascar Hissing cockroach produces 30 to 60 eggs that are stored in an ootheca that can be carried inside or outside the body. When the eggs hatch, the nymphs emerge.

The Madagascar Hissing cockroach nymphs molt six times within seven months before reaching adulthood. The skin of the cockroach splits down the middle of its back and the nymph wiggles out. The newly molted nymphs are white, but quickly darken within a few hours. All Madagascar Hissing cockroaches can make a disturbance hiss after the fourth molting cycle. Madagascar Hissing cockroaches have a lifespan of 2 to 5 years. Adults and their children keep close physical contact for long periods of time. Madagascar Hissing cockroaches are nocturnal and scavenge for food, eating mostly plant materials.

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches and Humans

These cockroaches do not bite and are often kept as pets. In the United States, a few states require owners obtain permits before purchasing these giant insects. Ninety-nine percent of all cockroaches do not inhabit homes, it is rare for the Madagascar Hissing cockroach to infest a human habitation.

Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Control

  1. Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Identification: Contact a pest control expert and ask them to come to your home to make sure the cockroaches you have are in fact Madagascar Hissing cockroaches. They will look for insects that are chocolate brown in color, wingless, and 3 inches in length.
  2. Bait and Insecticide: A pest control professional will use a chemical spray to kill Madagascar Hissing cockroaches taking care to skip food prep areas.
  3. Removal of Madagascar Hissing cockroaches: A professional will remove the large dead insect carcasses and vacuum up any eggs.

DIY and Green Solutions for Madagascar Hissing Cockroach Control

  1. Step on it! These cockroaches can reach up to 3 inches long, but destroying Madagascar Hissing cockroach is as easy as putting on a big old pair of boots and stomping them dead.
  2. Lure them to their deaths! Cover a vegetable with boric acid and hide it in a dark place near where you see Madagascar Hissing cockroaches congregating. The insects will eat the vegetable and the boric acid will kill the cockroach from the inside out starting in its stomach.
  3. Seal it up! Fill cracks and crevices or any potential insect entryways to the house using caulk. The Madagascar Hissing cockroach is wingless, but that doesn’t stop it from getting places by climbing very slippery surfaces. The best way to keep them from infesting your home is to take preventative measures.