Cockroaches are one of the most unwelcome guests in human settlements, but they seem to always find their way into human dwellings. To many people, a cockroach in the house means they are probably not as clean as they should be. There are over 4,000 species of cockroaches in the world, but the nasty ugly looking German and American species have poisoned the human view of the insects.
Years of myths about cockroaches have turned this adaptable insect into a six-legged monster that no one wants to be associated with. However, a closer look at a cockroach’s habit will show you that all they try to do is survive, and you should probably not hate them as much as you do. Most of the things people know about roaches are actually false.
Eating bugs is taboo in the US and most European countries, although more people are getting to try it. Cockroaches are not necessarily yucky to some Asian cultures such as Thailand, where many people enjoy their crunchy taste when deep-fried in oil. Scientists agree that cockroaches are a good source of protein and not poisonous if cooked properly. It is, however, important to ensure that the species you eat has been bred exclusively for eating and not the wild filth-eating ones. Eating live roaches is also discouraged as they are believed to carry lots of disease-causing bugs that might kill you. In 2012, a man died in Miami after eating live cockroaches at a snake store in a competition to win a snake.
A Nuclear Holocaust
The saying that “only cockroaches will survive the apocalypse” has been sold in all types of media over the years, and many people seem to have come to believe it. The myth originated from Japan after the bombing of Hiroshima, and Nagasaki seemed to show insect numbers unscathed in the cities. A lab test by MythBusters in 2012, however, showed that roaches are also susceptible to nuclear radiation, although they are 5 to 15 times more resistant to it than human beings. Other scientists later discredited the lab test, saying it didn’t test whether the roach lived long enough to lay eggs before dying from the radiation. It seems they may survive the holocaust after all!
Cockroaches in People’s Ears
Yes, cockroaches are ugly little crawlers that walk into any opening they can fit in but only to look for food. That means a roach will not walk into your ear on a normal day because there is no food there. However, Cockroaches love to be touched, and they like hiding in narrow spaces where they feel warm and safe from predators, and that could well include your ears. Their legs have spikey grips that also make them hard to remove if they enter your ear, and since they can’t make a U-turn in there, you may have to visit the ER. The experience can be scary and painful, so stay away from them as much as you can.
Surviving Without Heads
Most mammals die immediately after being beheaded because the brain controls all the vital functions of the body. Cockroaches are special in that they only need their head to eat and drink. Each body part has self-regulated nerves and muscles that allow the roach to move and feel comfortable without its head. It also uses holes all over its body called spiracles to breathe so it doesn’t need its head for that either.
As for bleeding out, the roach has something called an open circulation system meaning its blood is not pumped around the body at high pressure. When beheaded, the wound bleeds slowly enough to clot before the roach actually bleeds out. That is why a headless roach will continue living for up to a week and will only die of starvation, unlike human beings.
This is one of the most common myths about cockroaches, although it turns out it may be true after all. While doing a study on the behaviour of cockroaches, a professor from Queen Mary University in London confirmed that we don’t know much about roaches because we tend to kill rather than sturdy them. In their experiment, they discovered that cockroaches talk to one another through chemicals they emit.
They tell one another where to find food, which is why they mostly come out in groups at night and tend to feed on the same piece of food together for a long time. Cockroaches are seen rocking one another and seeming to move their mouths while next to each other is not really their way of talking, as many people thought.
Cockroach allergy is real and one of the reasons why roaches should stay out of your home. Cockroach excretions and body parts contain a protein that reacts with the body, causing an allergic reaction. The main problem is that even contact with parts of a dead cockroach can cause the reaction. It happens when a cockroach crawls on you or on the food that you eat. In most cases, it is rashes on the skin, sneezing, coughing, and sometimes teary and red eyes. The reaction, however, gets worse if you are asthmatic and can cause chest pains and difficulty in breathing.
Why they Always Die On Their Backs
Most cockroaches in people’s homes tend to die on their backs hence the assumption that if a roach falls on its back, it cannot get itself up. Now, cockroaches don’t always die on their backs. Most cockroaches actually die by being eaten in the wild rather than on their backs in your home. Cockroaches have heavy bodies and rather thin legs, so they are not exactly the most balanced insects.
When they fall on their backs, they wriggle around trying to get something to hold onto, and they tend to always find one in the wild. Clean, polished surfaces in the homes don’t exactly have something to grab onto, so when a roach topples over, it may struggle to exhaustion. Insecticides, detergents, and bleach used at home also cause muscle spasms in cockroaches, causing them to topple to their deaths.
Cockroaches and Clean Freaks
Many people believe that when you clean up your house regularly, mopping the surfaces and removing all trace of food, you won’t have roaches in your home. Being a clean freak, however, doesn’t make your home roach proof. Cockroaches are very resilient, able to sense food and water from a far away. They can also survive for up to 3 months without eating anything. Besides, their food sources range from cardboard and glue to everything you eat.
They can also hide in some places you could never clean effectively, including crevices in your walls, furniture joints, and books. When one roach enters your home, it attracts more and lays eggs breeding a whole generation, which may take a lot of effort to exterminate. It is still important to keep your house clean, and food sources locked, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see any roaches.
Roaches are gross and, to the surprise of many, a contributor to global warming. In 2013, the pesticide company Rentokil produced a report confirming that each roach can release up to 35g of methane a year, which is more than 40 times the weight of an adult cockroach. That makes them the second fartiest animal after the cow. The test only covered the American cockroach, so not much is known about the other species; They could be worse. The Research, however, debunked the rumour that roaches fart once every 15 minutes.
The grossness of roaches is multiplied when your home gets infested with the fliers because they are faster, harder to locate, and, by far, more dangerous. The common American cockroach rarely flies, but it can still glide from high surfaces to lower altitudes. The wood cockroach and the branded cockroach are, however, regular fliers. The fliers are mostly nocturnal, so when you see one, chances are there are many of them around already. Flying is rarely necessary for roaches, though, as they only use it when they are in extreme danger and if there is too much heat.