Monday, March 4, 2013

Cockroach Cleanliness

American Cockroach- Purdue.edu
Cockroaches are really clean.  At least their antennae are.  The story of how and why they are so fastidious was recently told on a Science Friday video below.  But before you get to that reward, here are a few interesting roach facts that you won't find on a Real-kill bottle.  (If you can't wait, click here.)

I will start with the good news.  Although there are 4,500 species worldwide in the Blattaria family, only 30 species are found around human habitation and only 4 of these are considered pests.  One of these is proudly named the American Cockroach.  There, don't you feel better about roaches already?

Cockroach In Amber- Wikimedia
Cockroaches are in the same group as praying mantis and termites.  The earliest cockroach fossils date to the Carboniferous period 354–295 million years ago.  The one on the right is relatively younger, preserved in amber some 40-50 million years ago.  Hard as that is to believe, recent genetic evidence suggests that termites evolved from the more primitive true cockroaches. This fact has done nothing to win them human friends.

They are incredibly hearty.  They can go without food for a month while still running around your garage.  Their food habits are omnivorous- they can even digest the glue on postage stamps.  This may be dated as I would like to see them peel the modern stamps off the paper.  If they can do it the USPS promises they are "forever".

The popular story that they will inherit the earth after a global nuclear war has some basis in fact.  Radiation affects dividing cells and the cockroach cells only divide when they are molting, which occurs roughly once a week at most in juvenile roaches.  That means that most would not be affected by the initial radiation blast.  If they could hunker down in a nice moist sealed basement, which they do anyway, they might avoid radiation for some time.

So what is not to love?  They eat our food, smell, and transport microbes from filthy places into our living spaces.  They also have a gift for running across the floor when your mother is visiting your basement college apartment. 


So if you were patient, here is the video on How dirty roaches get clean.

Information from Wikipedia

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