Cockroaches are among the most reviled of insects. Their nocturnal habits and tendency to feed on decaying plant matter led to them being associated with filth, disease and even witchcraft! In recent years, however, their reputation has been somewhat rehabilitated. The smaller cockroach species are now recognized as useful indicators of environmental health in urban areas, while the larger species make popular exotic pets. Insects are the second largest group of arthropods, after arachnids (which include spiders). There are over a million known species of insect in the world; that’s about twice as many as all other types of animal combined! To put that into perspective, if all those insects were given first names beginning with the same letter – for example, if all ladybirds were called Sheila – there wouldn’t be enough letters in the English alphabet to give them all unique names.
What do cockroaches look like?
Cockroaches are predominantly brown and black, with tan or grey colouring on their wings. They have long, segmented bodies with three pairs of legs, and a cylindrical, dome-shaped carapace covering the back. The head is specialized for chewing and has large, compound eyes, long antennae and mandibles. Cockroaches can be identified by their two-segmented antennae and six legs – although there is also a species with four legs! Cockroaches have a wide range of body sizes, from a few millimetres to over 15 cm in length (in the case of the Australian giant burrowing cockroach). The largest species are found in tropical regions, where warm, humid conditions make for an abundant food supply, whereas the smallest species live in deserts, where food is scarce. Most cockroach species are found in tropical and subtropical areas and in warm, temperate regions.
Where do cockroaches live?
Cockroaches are found throughout the world, and are abundant in tropical and temperate regions. The largest species are found in tropical regions, while the smallest species live in deserts. Most cockroach species are found in tropical and subtropical areas and in warm, temperate regions. Cockroaches do not survive in extremely cold temperatures, and are rarely found above altitudes of 2,500 m.
Why are there so many types of cockroach?
Cockroaches are extremely adaptable, and are found in a wide range of climates and habitats, from arid deserts to tropical forests. They are also long-lived, with some species living up to five years or more, and can survive in a variety of extreme environmental conditions, including cold and drought. Because of these factors, cockroach species have diversified into many different types.
What can we learn from cockroach behaviour?
Cockroaches are generally nocturnal and prefer to live in dark, warm places. Cockroaches are omnivorous and are able to feed on food sources that would be inedible to most other animals, such as paper and dead, decaying plants. The development stages of insects can be studied in cockroach life cycles, from egg to adult. Cockroaches are prolific breeders and have a relatively short breeding cycle. Many species can produce large numbers of eggs and are able to re-establish populations quickly after control measures.
Are all cockroaches bad?
While many people focus on the negative characteristics of cockroaches, the species found in urban areas are actually helpful to humans. Cockroaches are used as indicators of environmental health because they are sensitive to changes in their surroundings. For example, they are more abundant in areas with poor sanitation or high levels of pollution. Cockroaches are also very effective recyclers, consuming decaying organic matter, including many kinds of waste. They help to break down this organic matter and return essential nutrients to the soil. Some cockroach species are also edible, and are eaten in many Asian countries.
Cockroaches have a reputation for being dirty, destructive pests, but these insects are important to the ecosystem, recycling nutrients from dead plants and animals back into the soil. These pests can also be indicators of environmental health as they are sensitive to changes in conditions. In cities, cockroaches are useful because they are sensitive to human activity. This can be helpful because scientists can monitor the population of cockroaches in a city to get a better idea of how the environment is changing.