Fun Facts About Cockroaches

"Eewww! A cockroach!"
That's the most common reaction to the mention of cockroaches. However, like most plants and animals in our amazing world, a little investigation reveals how interesting and unusual cockroaches actually are:

Cockroaches are ancient: cockroaches can be traced back to the Carboniferous period, some 320 million years ago. By contrast, ants, which are usually regarded as an ancient type of insect, only date back 120 million years.

Most cockroaches are not pests: There are over 4600 species of cockroach. Of these 4600 species, distributed among 460 genera (the "genus" is the next level up in the classification tree after "species"), only about 30 species are associated in any way with humans, since they eat human or pet food. Only 4 species are considered to be pests. That's about eight tenths of one percent of all cockroach species!

Cockroaches live everywhere: While not every species of cockroach can live in every environment, different species have adapted themselves to just about every type of habitat on earth. There are cockroach species that inhabit warm, wet tropical areas and cockroaches that are able to survive extreme temperatures of more than 100 degrees below zero. These cold-adapted cockroaches actually produce a sort of antifreeze in their blood. There are even cockroaches that live in aquatic environments and dive for their food.

Cockroaches have interesting relatives: Cockroaches are related to termites, although these groups diverged in the distant past. One vestige of their connection can be found in the wood-eating species of cockroaches.

Cockroaches are social beings: Cockroaches live in groups. Some cockroaches care for their young. They "communicate" with each other through smell- and taste- trails. These communications help cockroaches find food and shelter and signal to them when it is time to move as a group to a more desired location.

Cockroaches reproduce in interesting ways: Most cockroaches are egg-laying. Instead of laying individual or groups of eggs like most other egg-laying beings, female cockroaches produce an egg-sac, called an "ootheca" which contains the entire clutch of eggs. Some species of cockroach deposit this ootheca outside their bodies for later hatching, some hold the ootheca on their abdomens until hatching time, some hatch the eggs inside their bodies. Not to be outdone for reproductive diversity, some cockroaches are true live-bearers and a few species are even parthenogenetic --i.e. the entire species consists of self-replicating females.

Cockroaches are good to eat: Cockroaches are good, nutritious food for a variety of animals. They have also been consumed by humans throughout history and to this day. Fried cockroaches are known as a delicacy in many parts of the world. Eating cockroaches made the news in a negative way in 2012, when a man who won a cockroach eating contest at a Florida pet store died later that evening. Despite this unfortunate incident, and the important warning that "wild caught" cockroaches should never be eaten, since there's no way to know what poisons they have consumed, cockroaches have been and still are used to make cosmetics and medicines throughout the world.

Want to know more about cockroaches? Check out this Wikipedia article