Can Cockroaches see color? How do Roaches see the World? Guide 2023

Cockroaches or Roaches are insects of the order Blattodea, which evolved over 40 to 50 million years or maybe earlier. 

Presently, people all around the world are familiar with roaches. So, have you ever been fascinated by how they see the world or what colors do they perceive? If yes, then let’s move to the answer.

Cockroaches can see specific colors like other bichromatic insects. Their eyes are susceptible to light and can see well in green light from the wavelength of 520 to 570 nm. Also, cockroaches cannot perceive prominent wavelength colors like red.

According to the study, roaches can sense some colors, but the spectrum range is yet to be researched.

wavelength range
Wavelength range for different colors | Source | NC State

That’s why it is difficult to conclude what color shades roaches’ eyes can witness. Later in this post, we have discussed more on roaches’ vision along with other queries.  

Can Cockroaches see color?

Yes, cockroaches can see color but cannot differentiate it as similar as humans. Humans have trichromatic vision allows us to glimpse the visible spectrum (blue, green, and red color variations).

On the contrary, cockroaches have 2000 hexagonal ommatidia (compound eyes of arthropods as shown in the image below) assists them in receiving multiple images of a thing at once. This sight is called mosaic vision.

Insects Mosaic Vision
Insects Mosaic Vision
Source | Larry Keeley

In simple words, mosaic vision helps insects to identify any nearby object with higher sensitivity and low resolution. Therefore, insects, including cockroaches, cannot witness in clarity.

Roaches have 2000 hexagonal ommatidia that help them to form numerous pictures of their surrounding, which makes them highly responsive. 

In other words, they can acquire considerable notions of an object at once. This is called mosaic vision with high sensitivity and low resolution. 

Also, research conducted on 20 roaches of different species discloses red light repels a more significant number of cockroaches than the other colored lights, followed by green, white, yellow, and blue.

Roaches are nocturnal insects because their eyes are highly vulnerable to daylight (or any kind of artificial bright lights). Hence, they prefer to be active at night.

How do Cockroaches see the world?

Cockroaches are narrow-sighted and see the world in blurry or hazy vision. The hexagonal ommatidia in their eyes qualify them to perceive the world with high sensitivity and low vision clarity.

On one side, the human eye has only one lens that provides binocular 3D vision with greater depth.

Can cockroaches see color
Cockroaches can see color

Conversely, roaches’ eyes possess several lenses that collectively form an image and help them to detect even the slightest movements of its predators.

Roaches have two types of eyes: simple and compound.

Simple eyes detect light and dark, whereas compound eyes detect 360-degree vision from all sides.

What color repels Cockroaches?

Red color repels cockroaches the most. Red light has a high wavelength that is more sensitive to roaches’ eyes. As per the experiment, green light scares off the second most cockroaches and then followed by white, yellow and blue.

Also, an exciting result surfaced that black light freezes the cockroaches for several minutes.

However, some peoples claim that their roaches face no problem in the red light. It is because of the color intensity. In a nutshell, the darker the red and the lower the intensity of light, the less the chance that cockroaches can detect it.

What color do Cockroaches like?

Cockroaches like blue and yellow color the most. According to the CALIFORNIA STATE SCIENCE FAIR project, blue and yellow lights deterred a much smaller number of cockroaches than other lights. 

Cockroaches have the best low-light abilities, and their eyesight is concentrated more on small wavelength colors. Therefore, they sense the shades of blues much better way.

In addition, the yellow color is universal for all insects. It has been discovered that nearly all insects are attracted to the yellow color the most. It is because a normal healthy green plant usually has colorful flowers, and due to poor nutrients, the leaves or flowers turn yellow.

Over the millions of years of evolution, various insects have learned to detect yellow color leaves or flowers for better nutrition. Therefore, the things that reflect yellow shades are categorized as decay for many insects.

Can Roaches see humans?

Yes, roaches can see humans, but they cannot distinguish us. They notice all vertebrates the same and have a minimal response program to run in fear when any vertebrate is in their line of sight.

Not only this, cockroaches can sense you with their antennae, and tiny hairs on their legs assist them in detecting any movement. 

Cockroach Vision vs Human Vision
Cockroach Vision vs Human Vision

Also, these hairs are extremely sensitive to the slightest touch, responding them to run for their life.   

In a nutshell, cockroaches can see and sense you not only with their 2000+ hexagonal ommatidia but also with tiny hairs and antennae.

Can Roaches see in the Dark?

Roaches can see in the pitch dark. They are nocturnal (night) creatures and can pool light signals over time. 

They have thousands of hexagonal ommatidia called photoreceptors, which absorb the light particles and sum them to see in the dark.

According to Matti Weckström, a biophysicist, the roach eye absorbs one photon every 10 seconds on the moonless night condition. 

It illustrates that roaches are some of the creatures that can see even in pitch black.

On the other hand, humans have a vision that is concentrated more on cones rather than rods. Therefore we perceive the world with more colors and details, whereas roaches can glimpse the world even in the pitch dark but have a hazy vision.

Can Cockroaches see in the light?

Cockroaches take time to adapt and see in the light. Cockroaches hate the light (whether natural or artificial) and adore living in the darkness. 

Their eyes comprise 2000+ mini lenses that are very vulnerable to light; that’s why they are likely to move out at night. 

However, it is noticed that cockroaches can adapt to their environment and become acclimated to light within some minutes.

That’s why when a cockroach enters the bright room from the dark; it rests for a while. Its eye takes time to fully adapt from complete darkness to bright light. After a particular interval, they start to glimpse even in the bright light conditions.

How many eyes does a cockroach have?

Cockroaches have five eyes: two large compound eyes that comprise thousands of ommatidium, a convex-shaped lens, and three simple eyes known as ocelli on the forehead. 

Cockroaches vision
Cockroaches vision
Uploaded by Anna Erika Honkanen

Below we have attached the image to demonstrate the cockroaches’ eyes.

Like other insects, ommatidia in roaches are responsible for hazy vision.

Why do I see Roaches during the day?

If you see roaches during the day, it means your home is too crowded with roaches that a single roach is forced out from its hiding place in search of food.

It is not a good indicator; you have to take some serious actions against them. Also, there is a probability it directly comes from outside. At that time, you can just get rid of it. During the rainy or stormy season, many insects fly towards shelter.

Cockroach Vision vs Human Vision

Cockroach Vision Human Vision
Are not trichromatic Are trichromatic
Have more than 2000 mini lenses Have only one 1 lens
Cannot see 3D view Can see 3D view
Are sensitive to light Are not sensitive to light
Can see in Pitch-Black Cannot see in dark

Here, we conclude our article on “Can cockroaches see color,” along with other queries. We hope you like the article. We will be back with another post. Till then, stay tuned with us and read the articles below.


Large Functional Variability in Cockroach Photoreceptors by JNeurosci

Color Vision by NC State

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