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Is it true that cockroaches could survive a nuclear holocaust? © Getty Images

Is it true that cockroaches could survive a nuclear holocaust?

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Unfortunately for cockroaches their indestructible nature may be slightly exaggerated and their reliance on us is a main factor for this vulnerability.

Asked by: Anonymous


Absolutely not, for two important reasons. First, their reputation for radiation resistance is greatly exaggerated. Granted, they are tougher than humans, but that’s true of virtually all insects. Their simpler bodies and much shorter lifespans inherently make them less vulnerable, but a cockroach can only survive between six and 15 times the lethal radiation dose for humans. The exception being the parasitic wasp Habrobracon, which can cope with over 180 times our lethal exposure.

Secondly, the cockroach species we see most are the ones that have adapted to coexist with human populations. Once we have been wiped out by the bombs, there would be a brief ’roach surge as they used up all the easily available food, followed by a dramatic crash. They might not become extinct, but they would be no better off than any of the other insect detritivores (bugs that feed on detritus).


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luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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