Watch translucent cockroach babies burst from their egg cases in skin-crawling footage

An incredible new video captures the skin-crawling moment dozens of translucent cockroach larvae burst from their leathery egg case.

The footage shows a protective egg capsule called an ootheca opening up to reveal the tiny cockroach larvae emerging, their bodies unfolding as they begin to explore their subterranean nursery.

The clip is from National Geographic's new series "A Real Bug's Life," which is available to stream on Disney+ from Jan. 24.

Cockroach larvae are seen emerging from their egg cases in "A Real Bug's Life." (Image credit: Nat Geo/Disney+/A Real Bug's Live)

Related: American burying beetle: The meat-eating insect that buries bodies for its babies to feast on

Typically found in sewers and drains, female American cockroaches (Periplaneta americana) produce one egg case per month or more that protects around 16 eggs. The female places the case by food and water and sometimes secretes a sticky substance to glue the egg case to a surface. 

Capturing the cockroach babies emerging from their case was extremely difficult, series producer Bill Markham told Live Science in an email. "It took six months of trial and error to get it right," he said. 

Capturing this footage in the wild would have been impossible, he said, so entomologist Tim Cockerill and cinematographer Nathan Small placed cockroach egg cases they had collected from a university lab in the laundry room of Small's home. Conditions were carefully controlled so each batch of egg cases would hatch after one another.

It took a month before the first roaches started to emerge. "Once the first ootheca opened it was all systems go," Markham said.

Small then spent seven hours filming each shot. The results are incredible... if a little creepy," Markham said.

Elise Poore
Editorial executive

Elise studied marine biology at the University of Portsmouth in the U.K. She has worked as a freelance journalist focusing on the aquatic realm. Elise is working with Live Science through Future Academy, a program to train future journalists on best practices in the field.