10 Amazing Facts About Cockroaches

10 Amazing Facts About Cockroaches


10 Amazing Facts About Cockroaches… Nobody wants to see a cockroach scurrying
under the fridge when flipping on the light switch. These creatures aren’t exactly revered.
Entomologists know otherwise, though; these insects are actually rather cool. Here are
10 fascinating facts about cockroaches that just might persuade you to think differently
about them. 1. Most Species Are Not Pests… What image do you conjure up when you hear
the word cockroach? For most people, it’s a dark, dirty city apartment teeming with
cockroaches. In truth, very few cockroach species inhabit human dwellings. We know of
some 4,000 species of cockroaches on the planet, most of which inhabit forests, caves, burrows,
or brush. Only about 30 species like to live where people do. In the U.S., the two most
common species are the German cockroach, known as Blattella germanica, and the American cockroach,
Periplaneta americana. 2. Cockroaches Are Scavengers… Most roaches prefer sugar and other sweets,
but they will eat just about anything: glue, grease, soap, wallpaper paste, leather, bookbindings,
even hair. And cockroaches can survive a remarkably long time without food. Some species can go
as long as six weeks without a meal. In nature, cockroaches provide an important service by
consuming organic waste. As with houseflies, when cockroaches take up residence among humans,
they can become vehicles for spreading diseases as they scuttle about the home. Feeding on
waste, trash, and food, they leave germs and droppings in their wake. 3. They’ve Been Around For a Long Time… If you could travel back to the Jurassic period
and walk among the dinosaurs, you would easily recognize the cockroaches crawling under logs
and stones in prehistoric forests. The modern cockroach first came to be about 200 million
years ago. Primitive roaches appeared even earlier, about 350 million years ago, during
the Carboniferous period. The fossil record shows that Paleozoic roaches had an external
ovipositor, a trait that disappeared during the Mesozoic era. 4. Cockroaches Like to Be Touched… Roaches are thigmotropic, meaning they like
feeling something solid in contact with their bodies, preferably on all sides. They seek
out cracks and crevices, squeezing into spaces that offer them the comfort of a tight fit.
The small German cockroach can fit into a crack as thin as a dime, while the larger
American cockroach will squeeze into a space no thicker than a quarter. Even a pregnant
female can manage a crevice as thin as two stacked nickels. Cockroaches are also social
creatures, preferring to live in multigenerational nests that can range from a few bugs to several
dozen. In fact, according to research, cockroaches that don’t share the company of others can
become ill or unable to mate. 5. They Lay Eggs, Lots of Them… Mama cockroach protects her eggs by enveloping
them in a thick protective case, called an ootheca. German cockroaches may encase as
many as 40 eggs in one ootheca, while the larger American roaches average about 14 eggs
per capsule. A female cockroach can produce multiple egg cases over her lifetime. In some
species, the mother will carry the ootheca with her until the eggs are ready to hatch.
In others, the female will drop the ootheca or attach it to a substrate. 6. Roaches Love Bacteria… For millions of years, cockroaches have carried
on a symbiotic relationship with special bacteria called Bacteroides. These bacteria live within
special cells called mycetocytes and are passed down to new generations of cockroaches by
their mothers. In exchange for living a life of relative comfort inside the cockroach’s
fatty tissue, the Bacteroides manufacture all the vitamins and amino acids the cockroach
needs to live. 7. Cockroaches Don’t Need Heads to Survive… Lop the head off a roach, and a week or two
later it will still respond to stimuli by wiggling its legs. Why? Surprisingly, its
head isn’t all that important to how a cockroach functions. Cockroaches have open circulatory
systems, so as long as the wound clots normally, they aren’t prone to bleeding out. Their respiration
occurs via spiracles along the sides of the body. Eventually, the headless cockroach will
either dehydrate or succumb to mold. 8. They’re Fast… Cockroaches detect approaching threats by
sensing changes in air currents. The fastest start time clocked by a cockroach was just
8.2 milliseconds after it sensed a puff of air on its rear end. Once all six legs are
in motion, a cockroach can sprint at speeds of 80 centimeters per second, or about 1.7
miles per hour. And they’re elusive, too, with the ability to turn on a dime while in
full stride. 9. Tropical Roaches Are Big… Most domestic roaches don’t come close to
the size of their giant, tropical cousins. Megaloblatta longipennis boasts a wingspan
of 7 inches. The Australian rhinoceros cockroach, Macropanesthia rhinoceros, measures about
3 inches and can weigh 1 ounce or more. The giant cave cricket, Blaberus giganteus, is
even larger, reaching 4 inches at maturity. 10. Cockroaches Can Be Trained… Makoto Mizunami and Hidehiro Watanabe, two
scientists at Japan’s Tohoku University, found cockroaches could be conditioned much like
dogs. They introduced the scent of vanilla or peppermint just before giving the roaches
a sugary treat. Eventually, the cockroaches would drool when their antennae detected one
of these scents in the air. More Crazy Cockroach Facts… It’s often been said that cockroaches are
so hardy that they can survive a nuclear explosion. Although the bugs can survive levels of radiation
that would kill a human being within minutes, higher levels of exposure can be deadly. In
one experiment, cockroaches were exposed to 10,000 rads of radiation, about the same amount
as the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan during World War II. Only about 10 percent of the
test subjects survived. These hardly bugs can also hold their breath
for 4 to 7 minutes at a time. Scientists aren’t sure why cockroaches do this, but researchers
in Australia say it may be in order to preserve moisture in dry climates. They can also survive
for several minutes underwater, though exposure to hot water can kill them. What do you think about these interesting
facts? Please tell us in a comment below and share.
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