Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Facts, Identification & Control

Scientific Name

Gromphadorhina portentosa


madagascar cockroach picture

Madagascar hissing cockroaches are also commonly referred to as hissing cockroaches. Some people refer to them as giant cockroaches. These insects are native to Madagascar and live in forests and other moist, tropical regions.

Growing up to 7.5 cm in length, Madagascar hissing cockroaches are one of the largest cockroach species. Madagascar hissing cockroaches are brown in color, wingless and have long antennae. Males have larger pronotal humps on the thorax and bushier antennae than females.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Madagascar hissing cockroaches hiss when disturbed or alarmed. They produce this sound by expelling air though slits in the abdomen. The hiss of Madagascar hissing cockroaches is very loud and plays an important role in colony hierarchy, courtship and communication. This hissing is used to communicate with the rest of the colony, as well as to threaten and warn away predators. Males are particularly aggressive and have been known to remain within their colonies for months at a time in order to protect them from harm.

Hissing cockroaches are omnivores which feed primarily upon vegetables and other decaying organic matter.Despite their large size, Madagascar hissing cockroaches are capable of hiding within incredibly narrow spaces.

Madagascar hissing cockroaches live on forest floors and beneath rotten logs. Madagascar hissing cockroaches feed on fallen fruit and decaying organic matter and can live as long as five years. Madagascar hissing cockroaches differ from some other cockroach species in that they possesses horns and are wingless.


The young Madagascar hissing cockroach stays in close contact with the female for an extended period of time after birth. Nymphs undergo six molts in a span of approximately seven months before reaching the adult stage. Both nymphs and adults are wingless, although they are excellent climbers. Males of this species have larger horns and hairier antennae than females. They are also extremely aggressive and are commonly seen fighting with rival males.

More Information

The Madagascar hissing cockroach is the only known insect species capable of hissing. While other insects create sound by rubbing body parts together, the Madagascar hissing cockroach hisses by releasing air from abdominal spiracles. These cockroaches produce two kinds of hisses: upon reaching a certain developmental stage, all hissing cockroaches can produce the disturbance hiss, but only males ever emit the fighting hiss. Male hissing cockroaches are very territorial and use their horns in combat.