Do you hate cockroaches? Well, you’re not alone! These creepy-crawlies make most people shudder. Maybe it’s because people associate them with filthy environments. Also, cockroaches can spread many diseases, so you’re not going to want to cuddle up beside them any time soon.
So you have good reasons for avoiding these disgusting insects. But it’s also worth taking the time to understand them. Consider these fascinating facts:
1. They are cannibals!
Want another reason to hate them? We all know that cockroaches aren’t fussy when it comes to food. Fruit, glue and faeces will all find a place on the cockroach menu! And in lean times, they’ll even eat each other.
Although this might sound disgusting, it makes sense from a survival perspective. If food is scarce, you have two choices. Lower the bar about what you’ll eat. Or eat the competition. Cockroaches do both. By eating other cockroaches, they find a handy food source while also thinning out their numbers. Think of it as a radical form of population control!
2. They’re old!
Most cockroaches live for about a year. However, these insects’ ancestors have been scuttling around this planet for a very long time. According to PennState College of Agricultural Science, fossils prove that cockroaches have been here for more than 300 million years!
The next time you find yourself trying to chase a cockroach out of your home, remember that your cave-dwelling ancestors faced the same problem…
3. They won’t survive a nuclear explosion
Okay, we’re not suggesting that you use the nuclear option in order to get rid of cockroaches!
A persistent urban legend has argued that cockroaches could actually survive a nuclear blast. After all, many cockroaches survived the 1945 nuclear blasts in Japan. MythBusters decided to test this theory. Their research indicated that cockroaches can indeed survive higher levels of radiation than humans can. However, not even these resilient insects could survive radiation levels of 100,000 rads. Of course, if you don’t have a nuclear warhead handy, you might want to consider more conventional ways to get rid of your cockroaches.
4. They are very flexible
We’re not talking about their attitude here! We simply mean that their bodies are very flexible and can squeeze through tiny gaps and cracks.
They are able to do this by manipulating their exoskeletons. They flatten their exoskeleton and spread their legs out. This enables them to wriggle through a gap quarter the height of their own body!
Check out this National Geographic video to see this in action:
5. They can trigger asthma
Yes, cockroaches can trigger a whole range of allergies, including asthma.
Why is this? According to The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, cockroach saliva, faeces, and body parts can trigger asthma when they are kicked up in the air. In addition, The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America points out that cockroaches contain a protein that can trigger an asthma attack.
6. They can survive a week without a head
When things get a bit volatile, cockroaches have been known to lose their heads. Literally! And they can carry on just fine.
Cockroaches don’t need their heads in order to survive. They breathe through spiracles (tiny holes) in their body. Remember also that cockroaches can survive without food for a month. So the loss of a head doesn’t become a serious problem for a cockroach until about a week later.
7. They are very fast
Have you ever watched cockroaches scuttling around? They move with lightning speed. In fact, they can reach speeds of 1.5 metres per second. That would be like a human running at 200 miles per hour!
Survival comes into play here again. Cockroaches need to be able to move quickly in order to avoid the many predators that are looking to make a meal of them. Evolution provides the necessary defences.
8. They can’t fly
Many species of cockroaches have wings. But they can’t really fly.
They use their wings to move around, but it’s all very ungraceful and ineffective. They don’t soar majestically like wild eagles! Instead, they tend to glide and flutter like damaged kites. Anyway, who needs to fly when you can scurry at 1.5 metres per second?
9. They love beer!
Just when you thought cockroaches had no redeeming features!
It turns out that cockroaches like their cold pints! However, they’re not exactly party insects. They’re not drinking to get drunk. Instead, they’re simply attracted to the sugars and hops found in beer. That’s their excuse anyway…
10. They can hold their breath for 40 minutes
Think cockroaches will leave willingly? Don’t hold your breath! Unless you’re a cockroach yourself.
Remember how cockroaches breathe? They use the spiracles on their bodies. They also use these tubes to transport water vapour. So, if they need to conserve water, they shut down the tubes and stop breathing.
Have any more facts about cockroaches? Send us a tweet to @Rentokil_PestIE.