You Wish You Had Mites Like This Hissing Cockroach | Deep Look


Is there anything more lowly than the lowly
cockroach? Uh, yeah there is. That’s a cockroach mite. It lives its entire life on this cockroach. But these hitchhikers are doing a lot more
good than you might think. The mites are only on one type of cockroach – these
guys – Madagascar hissing cockroaches… …which are known for their hiss, of course. They do that when disturbed or looking for
a mate. They only live in the Madagascar rainforest
on an island off the coast of Africa. And they’re bigger than the cockroaches
you might find in your kitchen, like these brown-banded roaches. These pests will eat anything: food scraps,
poop, trash – you name it. As a result, they can spread disease or trigger
allergies. Hissing cockroaches are detritivores – they
mainly eat decaying leaves, tidying up the forest floor. They can even be kept as pets, because they’re
more docile than their common cousins. And most importantly, they’re a lot cleaner
… thanks to a permanent population of tiny housekeepers. Ok, yeah, it looks pretty bad. The mites crowd together in the crevices – places
where the cockroach can’t brush them off. They get their meals near the cockroach’s
head, gobbling up the food bits and saliva that the roach leaves behind. When they get thirsty, they head to the spiracles:
the openings the roach uses to breathe. The mites get water vapor from them. The roach also has one special hissing spiracle
for that signature sound. The mites live on a single roach, unless they
get passed on from roach parent to roach baby. They’re doing these cockroaches a favor. By cleaning up the old food and debris, the
mites help keep them free of mold and pathogens … potentially extending the roaches’ lives. Really, both a hissing cockroach and its mites
have the same important job: keeping the world a little bit neater. Not so lowly, after all. Looking for more wild science adventures? Journey to Earth’s most remote laboratory
in Antarctic Extremes, a harsh, thrilling and hilarious new show from NOVA and PBS Digital
Studios. Hosts Caitlin Saks and Arlo Pérez reveal
a world where science and survival meet. Find the show on Terra, PBS Digital Studios’
new science channel. Link is in the description.

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