Cockroaches are a menace that is found in every corner of the earth ( except maybe Antarctica, because it’s too cold out there !). The reason behind this is their ability to survive in almost any condition, be it some filthy sewer line or some damp corner of your house. Cockroaches will find a way to live.
The two most common places where you will see these creepers are the kitchen and the bathroom because from here they can both feed and drink.
Cockroaches may enter through drains and you may even spot them inside the toilet. But the question is can they swim up the toilet? Because if they can, then peacefully sitting on the toilet will not be an option anymore for fear of a cockroach lurking somewhere underneath.
Let us find out!
Can Cockroaches Swim?
Yes, cockroaches can swim. As already mentioned, cockroaches can survive almost any condition and that also includes being in the water. Roaches prefer to live near a water source because they need water to survive. This may sometimes lead them into situations where they find themselves inside a pool of water and they need to swim their way through it.
The way cockroaches swim in water is less swimming but more floating. They sort of drift in the pool until they float near a solid wall or something along which they can crawl up.
They generally do not expend much energy actively out of a pool of water because then it will lead to the loss of water vapor from their body which cannot be immediately refilled as they have to close their spiracles while they are inside water.
That said, if you see a dead cockroach in the bathroom toilet it probably drowned to death. This seems contrary to what was just said about cockroaches being able to swim but the thing is, they can swim but they cannot survive being submerged in water for more than two or three hours.
Can Cockroaches Swim Up Toilets?
No cockroaches generally should not be able to swim up toilets. But, there are certain instances where you might still spot a roach or two crawling up through the toilet.
The chances of cockroaches swimming up your toilet are slim because the base of each toilet is fixed with a water trap which will make it very difficult for the cockroach to swim up.
Have you ever noticed the curved S-shaped bend at the base of your toilet? It can be seen from the outside and that area is what houses the water trap also known as the air trap. It uses the siphon system as the S-shaped bend traps gasses and wastewater from traveling upwards and emitting a bad odor from the mouth of the toilet.
Water traps form an airtight seal at the base of the toilet to stop the bad fumes from entering the bathroom. If a cockroach does try to enter the bathroom using the main sewer drain and then tries to access the toilet, it has to swim a lot and is unlikely to succeed.
The water trap is always filled with water and the cockroach has to swim through the entire S-shaped bend in order to come out of the mouth alive.
Thus, if you do see a cockroach inside your toilet, there can be three chances. It may have entered from the outside and just happened to be on the toilet when you spotted it, or the toilet may be blocked or it may not have a water trap.
A blocked toilet means that the bend area does not have any water and whatever you flush down the toilet will come right back up. If the cockroach can crawl up when you are not using the toilet and there is no flush then it can come up easily.
However, a cockroach cannot stay submerged for long and if it does not succeed in swimming to the surface then it will drown and die. Therefore, nine out of ten times the cockroaches that appear in the toilet are dead ones and if you see one then you should check whether the toilet is blocked or not.
How Long Can Cockroaches Live Underwater?
Cockroaches can survive underwater for as long as two to three hours.
Cockroaches have an open circulatory system. This means that they do not use a particular organ like the nose or the mouth to breathe. Instead, the entire body of a cockroach is filled with valvular openings called Spiracles. In essence, cockroaches breathe with their skin.
When drowned or submerged in water, cockroaches simply close these spiracles which stops the airflow from their bodies as well as lowers the rate of metabolism thus conserving the reserve oxygen.
This is why cockroaches do not swim in the water and rather float without any effort. Because swimming will expend oxygen and they cannot afford to do that unless they emerge from the water. Unlike certain insects, cockroaches cannot absorb oxygen from the water by filtering it out, and thus it has to wait until they can get out of the water to breathe.
Hot water however can kill a cockroach faster. Some may associate it with pain but that is not what happens. Cockroaches do not have any feelings or pain receptors, they only feel irritation to warn them of dangers in their surroundings.
When drowned in hot water, the metabolism in cockroaches increases, and thus the flow of oxygen increases in their body. In such a state neither can they open up their spiracles nor can they access more oxygen and suffocate to death.
Can Cockroaches Survive Being Flushed Down The Toilet?
Flushing cockroaches down the toilet, thus may or may not kill them as they will simply hold their breaths by closing down the spiracles and start floating upwards towards the mouth of the toilet.
If you spot a cockroach in the toilet then it is not proof that it also entered your bathroom from there. They are simply in the toilet because they follow the smell of feces which is a replenishing nutrient to them.
As already mentioned, if you see a cockroach crawling upward from inside the mouth of the toilet then it may mean that the toilet is blocked and the water trap is not functioning.
In that case, even if flushed, the cockroach will not die because the water will not be able to make it past the S-bend and move back up from the mouth of the toilet and the cockroach can just swim a little to escape.
How Do You Keep Roaches From Coming Up Your Toilet?
There’s not a single person who doesn’t want to get rid of the menace of cockroaches, and especially in a place like the toilet.
Here are a few tried and tested methods to go about it.
Close the toilet lid after using it
If you have seen one or two cockroaches crawling up your toilet then it might be possible they are trying to infest your bathroom. Precautions have to be taken against that.
The easiest to stop cockroaches from crawling up your toilet is to simply keep the toilet lid closed after using it. In this way even if they swim upwards through the toilet water trap, they cannot come out into the bathroom.
This should especially be done at night because roaches do not usually come out when there is light because they fear being killed. They use their senses to forage for food only when it is dark. So you should cover their access point into the bathroom by simply putting down the toilet lid.
Baking soda and Warm Water
Cockroaches cannot feel any pain because they do not have any pain receptors in their body. But they have a strong sense of smell and if a smell irritates them then they flee from there.
The smell of baking soda is one such irritant for cockroaches. In a mug add some baking soda and warm water. The warm water activates the baking soda and you will see a sort of bubbling in the water. Pour this solution inside the toilet and keep it so without flushing.
The smell emitted will drive away cockroaches if one is in the middle of swimming upwards.
Most citrus fruits have a very fresh smell. But cockroaches find the smell irritating and strong.
Such strong smells force them to close their spiracles and stop taking in air for oxygen. So if these roaches smell citrus in your bathroom or the toilet, they will run away.
Hang citrus-scented bathroom freshening tablets at the inner side of the toilet so that with each flush the water dissolves away some of the tablets and emits a citrus scent.
You can also pour a citrus-scented germicide solution inside the water tank of the toilet but make sure that it has no corroding toxic chemicals in it which will harm the interior mechanics of the water tank and flush system.
Keep your bathroom clean
Cockroaches are attracted to filth and thus the more filthy and dirty a place is, the more the possibility of seeing a cockroach there. Thus make sure to always flush well after you use the toilet.
Using germicides such as phenyl on the toilet will keep cockroaches away as well as make your bathroom smell fresh and clean. If you do not like the strong smell of raw phenyl then use the scented ones.
Spraying the insides of your toilet with insecticide is also a good way to stop roach infestation from the toilet but the only problem is that insecticides are made with toxic chemicals and constantly using them may wear the toilet surface down.
The Bottom Line
Spotting a cockroach in the toilet should be treated with urgency because if not, they can lay eggs somewhere inside the bathroom and build an entire legion of cockroaches who will infest your house as they please.