Roach Facts: Why Do Cockroaches Die on Their Backs and More
You might consider cockroaches to be the most disgusting creatures ever, but there might also be lot of fascinating facts you don't know about them, such as their significance in the ecosystem, the reason why they flip over when they die, and whether or not they can drown.
This article provides an insightful view on the fabulous facts about cockroaches.
Pretty Little Creatures Called Cockroaches
Some of us look at these creatures with disgust, some with fear, and some with a nauseating mixture of both. However, even insects this terrible can possess hidden wonders, so let's explore the bright side of these pretty little creatures called cockroaches.
Why is it called a cockroach?
The term came from the Spanish word "cucaracha." The evolution of the term is summarized in a work by Captain John Smith published in 1624. He describes "a certain India Bug, called by the Spaniards a Cacarootch, which, creeping into Chests they eat and defile with their ill-sented dung." This term "cuca" was replaced by the English term associated with the rooster, "cock," resulting in the term "cockrootch" and finally, cockroach.
Why Do Cockroaches Die on Their Backs?
Their bulky bodies are composed of three heavy body segments which are only supported by six long, thin legs. As they die they lose muscle control, causing the leg muscles to contract. As a result, the legs are pulled beneath the body, causing them to lose their balance and topple over onto their backs. This also explains why cockroaches on the wall fall off when they get sprayed with insecticides.
Do they always flip over?
No. A cockroach might die without toppling over, but it happens most of the time.
The Ecological Importance of Cockroaches
Cockroaches play a vital role in the process of decomposition which is an essential part of the ecosystem. Through them water, nutrients, and energy is able to be recycled back into the ecosystem from decaying plants, animals, and organic matter. Through this process, cockroaches tend to fortify the soil with nutrients that plants need (Paige, 1998). Without them, the cycle might be impaired and their eradication could end up damaging the entire ecosystem we live in.
They play an important part in the food chain and might also participate in pollination.
The Medical Contributions of Cockroaches
Cockroaches were historically ground up, boiled, and used as medicines used to treat asthma, strokes, bronchitis, and problems with urinary retention. Some even made and drank boiled cockroach tea (can you imagine that?) to treat various ailments. There is no evidence that cockroaches can successfully treat these complaints, but there is no proof that they don't, either. No significant studies have been performed, although one study discovered that cockroach brains might have antibiotic properties, which might lead to new treatments for bacterial infections, and even some recent books wonder if cockroaches might someday play a part in the field of dermatology (and possibly other fields, as well).
Although their use as medicine has yet to be fully explored, they are used for medical experiments and provide benefits in the field of medical research especially in identifying the effects of chemical and various radiation on nerves.
The Weak Spot
Cockroaches are known for being the greatest survivors. It is often hypothesized that they would even survive a nuclear explosion. This creature often seems impossible to exterminate, but they can be killed.
Their only weak spot is their appetite. The trick is to get them to eat pesticide or insecticide. Boric acid (or borax) is said to be effective. Mixing it with flour and spreading it across your home may eliminate a roach problem.
Geeky Cockroach Facts
- Cockroaches are insects of the order Blattaria.
- There are about 4,000 to 5,000 species of cockroaches, 30 of which are considered pests by humans.
- Cockroaches can run up to 3km/hr or 0.8 m/s.
- They recognize their family and relatives by their distinctive odors.
- They are nocturnal and omnivorous.
- They don't easily drown and may even last for 30 minutes (or more) underwater.
- Most species live in the tropics (like the Philippines).
- They love glue. It might be their favorite food.
- Most American cockroaches are immigrants.
- They can survive decapitation. Even after separation, both the body and the head will still respond to stimulus and both the antenna and the legs might wiggle. However, the head's movement will only last for a few hours while a body may last up to several weeks.
- Cockroaches can survive without food for a month but will only last a week without water.
- Cockroaches have six hairy legs, and the hairs provide them a sense of touch.
- Some female cockroaches mate only once and become pregnant for the rest of their lives.
- Cockroaches can basically eat everything due to the presence of various bacteria and protozoa in their digestive system.
Questions & Answers
How long can cockroaches be on their backs until they die?
That depends on what made them fall on their backs. Usually, they die right before they flip. If you use a bug spray, the time it wiggles on its back would depend on the strength and amount of spray.
On the other hand, when it just lands on its back perhaps upon force or by "accident," they'll crawl again as soon as it regains balance. So beware.
Do cockroaches grow a line every year they are alive?
That would be fascinating had it been true, but there isn't enough evidence that points to this.
© 2012 Renz Kristofer Cheng