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).
Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.