Most people simply hate roaches – read our latest article about cockroach killers here. However, these critters are very interesting. They are some of the oldest insects in the world, as they predate dinosaurs and they can adapt fast to most environments. Some people also keep them as pets!
They are older than dinosaurs
One of the most interesting facts about cockroaches is that they are very old. The oldest roach fossils were dated to 320 million years ago. To put this in perspective, this means that cockroaches were around even before the dinosaurs.
The species that used to walk, or better said, crawl the Earth 300 million years ago is called Archimylacris Eggintoni and it lived during the Carboniferous period, a time at which life forms made their way from the oceans to the land.
Nowadays, the Carboniferous period is called by many the Age of Cockroaches. The reason for this is that between 359 and 259 million years ago, roaches pretty much ruled the world.
This is a fact as fossils of roaches that date back to this moment in time were found all around the globe. What is more, the dominance of roaches was also made possible by the fact that they were one of the first species that mastered the ability to fly. Plus, at that time, roaches had little to no competition from other species.
However, the Archimylacris Eggintoni is not only the ancestor of the roaches we know and fight today. In fact, in its evolution, this species has also given rise to other pests such as mantises and termites.
As studies have shown, the Archimylacris Eggintoni was large as it measured around 1.6 inches in width and 3.5 inches in length. They were very fast, they could fly, and they could also climb on surfaces that were difficult to reach by their predators. Their agility was the reason why they managed to evade them.
Apart from being fast, roaches also survived and thrived on Earth because of their adaptability. Even though their main source of food was the rotting flora, they also used to eat the debris left behind by other insects. Even today, roaches are still known for their ability to eat basically anything.
Most cockroach species are very much adaptable to this day. A roach can hold its breath for as long as 40 minutes and it can survive being submerged in water for around half an hour. Even more so, many cockroaches often hold their breath as a way to regulate the loss of water.
They are many types of roaches
According to the specialists, there are currently no less than 4,000 species of cockroaches worldwide. You can find roaches on all continents, except Antarctica. However, one aspect that most people do not know is that only a limited number of species, around 30 to be exact, are considered pests.
Most roaches live in forests, in gowns, swamps and fields. There is also one species of cockroaches called the Desert roach that lives and thrives in the driest regions of the world. This species is not a pest as it does not infest homes. Another difference between these roaches and the ones that are known to infest homes is that they can fly.
Because they are so many species spread all around the world, people have started to eat them. For instance, in China, you can find deep-fried roaches sold at food stalls. There are also indigenous tribes that eat cooked as well as live roaches.
One thing that we should mention is that the roaches that are usually cooked and eaten in the Far East are not the regular ones that you can spot around your home. For example, one popular species that is consumed is the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. However, these insects are only fed fruits and vegetables.
They grow very fast
One of the reasons why roaches still thrive today is because they grow extremely fast. Let’s look for instance at the German cockroach, one of the two species that you are likely to spot in your home. It only takes 36 days from the time the nymphs emerge from the ootheca, or the egg case, to become adults.
A female German cockroach lays 50 eggs per ootheca. A female can create between 200 to 300 offspring. That means that one single roach can create six other generations in a single year! What is more, if the optimal conditions are supplied, a female roach, as well as her offspring that has matured can produce 300,000 other cockroaches in the same year.
Because of their fast growth rate, roach infestations have to be handled immediately. If you cannot deal with a pest invasion by yourself, you should ask seasoned exterminators to help out.
They make the residents’ allergies worse
If you suffer from allergies or asthma and your home has been infested by roaches, chances are that your attacks will worsen. This happens because roaches produce proteins that some people are highly sensitive to.
Also, the debris, fecal matter and the molted exoskeletons that these pests leave behind can contribute to the worsening of your allergies. Apart from this issue, roaches also carry bacteria such as salmonella, streptococcus and staphylococcus and they can also harbor viruses, including the poliovirus.
Once they infest your home, these pests contaminate your food with their saliva. In no time, you might experience medical issues such as indigestion, dysentery, diarrhea or food poisoning. To avoid this, it is advisable that you store all your food in airtight containers.
While you must keep your home clean, you should remember that these pests do not only infest houses that are dirty or unkempt. You are also prone to become a victim of an infestation if there is access to food and water in your home as well as a way to easily access it. So, be sure to take all of the necessary precautions.
They can be successfully trained
If you are a fan of Orange Is the New Black, you probably remember the scene where Piper kills, by mistake, the roach that her roommate used to smuggle cigarettes between the cells in the prison. As weird as this might sound, the scene from the popular TV show is not entirely fictional. Recently, two scientists from the prestigious Tohoku University in Japan have demonstrated that cockroaches, just like dogs, can be trained.
While most of the world’s population hates roaches, a small percentage of people find these insects interesting enough to see them as pets. Some of the most popular species that are kept as pets include the Death’s head cockroach and the Madagascar hissing cockroach.
The Death’s head cockroaches are not picky eaters and they cannot climb. So, they are not likely to escape. However, it should be pointed out that they have wings and, thus, they can glide. They like to eat anything from moist dog food to fresh vegetables and fruit.
Another species that is popular among roach pet owners is the Madagascar hissing cockroach. These insects are easy to handle, docile and easygoing. Adults reach the maximum length off 3 inches and they have a life expectancy of around five years.
Before you run to an exotic pet shop and you get your hands on a pet of this sort, you should know that is some states such as Florida, you need a special permit to own an insect of this kind.
If you decide to raise hissing roaches, the experts recommend that you avoid taking any pregnant female hissers from the tank/habitat as you risk introducing a very invasive species in your local town.
To comfortably house a few hissers in your home, you should buy a 15-gallon fish tank that has a mesh lid. To prevent them from escaping, you should coat the few inches of the tank with petroleum jelly.
On top of that, because these pets do not thrive in pine or cedar shavings, it is recommended that you buy Aspen wood shavings. Also, because these insects are tropical creatures, you should maintain the tank at a temperature that ranges from 70 to 90 Fahrenheit degrees. Water should also be provided to the roaches to avoid dehydration.