Cockroaches are extremely interesting creatures. They may not be the most beautiful or most popular, but they are truly fascinating. And today I want to tell you about the reasons for this. What can be so compelling about a little cockroach?
Cockroaches are the small insects measuring about 2 cm. Male specimens reach 1.8-2.8 cm, female specimens 2-2.7 cm. Their colouring varies from species to species and can be reddish, brownish or even black. Their body is covered with scaly wings. They have 3 pairs of legs and long antennae.
They can be found almost on the whole globe, however, the largest concentration is in the northern hemisphere, in the moderate climate. Natural populations live in the Caspian and the Black Sea regions. But they have adapted to the environment that had been changed by human beings. Since then, the cockroaches live close to people, in the cellars, warehouses, sewers or dumps. They are with us for over 320 million years!
The female cockroach lays eggs every 1-2 weeks, about 6 times in a lifetime. Every time there are around 20 eggs and they are enclosed in a capsule called oothecae (praying mantids also lay eggs in oothecae. Another interesting animal). For some time, mommy carries her eggs with her. Then, she leaves them in some sheltered area. The cockroach lives around 1 year.
They eat whatever is available. Mostly leftovers of our food, but also skin flakes, hair, glue or paper. They won’t refuse a dead insect or, if necessary, they will consume a weak or injured individual from their own flock… And in some countries, the cockroaches are food for humans. But more on that later.
The cockroaches are social beings. They can find their way through the fragrant traces left by other cockroaches. Basically, this determines their paths. They emerge in the dark to find food and their own kind. Separated from the flock they become lost and can suffer from solitude, for example, they lose appetite.
Curious facts from the roaches world
Cockroaches are thermophilic creatures. The optimal temperature for their development is 20-29 degrees Celsius. Moreover, they like humidity. Most won’t survive when the temperature drops below 0. On the other hand, their adaptability is so advanced that some species produce a glycerine specific that protects their bodies from the cold. They are not afraid of even -122 degrees!
The cockroaches have been almost always and are almost everywhere. It is possible thanks to the aforementioned adaptive abilities. Some species have learned to dive, for instance. Others can survive without water. Generally, they can live a month without food. Also, some can survive for several dozen minutes without air.
They need heat, water and protein. This is why they usually avoid cold, choose food rich with water and in case of not enough food around, they eat each other as they contain a lot of protein.
So, the roaches are rich with protein, fat, mineral salts and vitamins. Because of this, they serve as human food in some areas. But do not worry. The chefs do not run around the streets in order to catch the insects. Cockroaches are specially bred for this occasion. This way they do not contain viruses and bacteria. The countries that consider cockroaches as a tasty bite are mainly China, Thailand and Mexico. Roaches are also bred for food for insectivorous animals.
It is said that neither male nor female specimens fly. But I’d say they just pretend they can’t. They have scaly wings and although they do not serve well on long-distance flights, they are of help in performing glide or parachute flights. On these occasions, the wings are spread widely and set at the right angle to allow the insects to land safely on the ground.
The cockroaches have a high tolerance to radioactivity.
They are also extremely resistant to crushing. They can flatten strongly and squeeze through the smallest gap.
They climb on rough surfaces, but most species will have difficulties on smooth walls.
And about survival. Roaches are still able to maintain vital function for a week after losing their heads.
There are small hairs on the roaches’ legs thanks to which they catch even minimal air movement. Plus, their nervous system is extremely sensitive. These make them incredibly vivid and agile. In just 1 second they can change the direction 25 times!
Are cockroaches dangerous?
Fortunately, the cockroaches do not bite or nibble. However, they can carry bacteria and viruses on their surface, causing, among others, food poisoning or cholera. Moreover, they may cause allergic reactions and asthma. They leave an unpleasant smell and they contaminate food products so the latter spoil faster.
For the first time in my life, I saw cockroaches in Denmark. Fortunately, not at my own home, but at work, so I wasn’t especially moved. Particularly since they were very small. At least when compared to the ones I meet here, in Spain. Spanish climate is clearly favourable to them.
You will rather not see them during winter. But as soon as it gets warmer, they come to the garden. They visit us while we are sitting outside late. Sometimes, one or two will stay until the morning. Even with my fascination with these creatures, it’s not that these meetings somehow make me happy. At first, I kept my distance, but over time I got used to seeing them. This does not change the fact that their visits to our garden end tragically for them. But I will write about the methods of fighting the cockroaches next time.
If you do not feel disgusted whenever the name “cockroach” is mentioned, take a look at what can be found on the Internet. And if you’ve had enough, just scroll to the end and listen to the song. 😀
Artificial cockroaches can be as disgusting as live ones, but the mascot is charming, isn’t it? I think the costume is original as well. And the kids will surely love the game. I would. 😉
I recently wrote about Spanish films. I do not want to spoil the story here, but in “Mientras duermes” there is an unforgettable scene with the cockroaches in the lead role.
And at last, the final cool fact.
The song “La cucaracha” is worldwide known. Perhaps not everyone realizes that this is a song about a cockroach! “La cucaracha” is nothing else but the Spanish name for the hero of today’s post. Beautiful name, right?