Did you know the American Cockroach can live for a week without its head. It can also fly short distances and withstand 10 times more radiation than a person All these feats and more are encoded in the cockroach’s genome. Interestingly, Chinese scientist have completed and sequenced a complete set of genetic instructions, which you can see HERE in Nature Communications. It is actually the second largest insect genome ever sequenced, and larger even than the human genome. In China, the cockroach is often called “xiao qiang” meaning “little mighty.” The team of Chinese scientists found that groups of genes associated with sensory perception, detoxification, the immune system, growth and reproduction were all enlarged in the American cockroach, likely underpinning its scrappiness and ability to adapt to human environments. In the American cockroach, the team found thousands of genes, including more than 1,000 thought to help the insect detect chemical cues from the environment. Among these are more than 300 genes associated with perceiving bitter tastes, which could help them decide which foods are safer than others. The scientists also found more than 20 genes thought to be related to immunity, reproduction and development. Genes such as these are promising targets for future pest control methods and are already being developed for agricultural pests. One of the more significant studies from the American cockroach the team is following up on is its extraordinary healing capabilities. If you cut a leg off of the cockroach, the insect will quickly regenerate it. The team is identifying the proteins and pathways involved in this process, with the hope that they can be harnessed for medical treatments. Cockroach extract has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to speed healing on cuts and burns. I have included below a few more interesting cockroach facts: (Source: Wiki; New York Times; Newsweek)

Millions Of Years Old – The cockroach is estimated to be at least 200 million years old. And since there are roach fossils dating back as far as 350 million years, they actually pre-date some dinosaurs.

Allergies & Infections – Cockroaches produce proteins that some people can be sensitive to, particularly those with asthma. The trails of fecal matter and decaying molted exoskeletons that roaches leave behind also contribute to the allergens they produce. Roaches also carry bacteria, which can lead to the spread of disease as roaches crawl across food or surfaces in the home.

Roaches Can Eat Almost Anything – This is not a myth. Roaches can eat almost everything from plant matter to people food, dead skin cells, garbage and even feces.

Not Much Oxygen Needed – Studies suggest some roaches can go up to 40 minutes without breathing, if necessary, and others can survive up to 30 minutes underwater. They do, however, breathe oxygen. A cockroach’s ability to hold their breath for long periods of time is believed to be a result of regulating water loss. Unlike us, cockroaches don,t use their mouths to breath but rather use small tubes in their body called spiracles. These are also used to transport water vapor out of their body if they need to conserve water they will simply keep the tubes shut.

How Much Food & Water Do They Need? Most roaches can go up to a month without food because they are cold-blooded. However, they will die in a week if they do not have access to water.

Does A Clean Home Matter? Roaches might enter clean homes, depending on ease of access to the water and food sources in the home. Dirtier homes just provide easier access, so it is more common. This is why it is important to not only keep your home clean, but also to ensure that cracks and points of entry for roaches and other insects are properly sealed.

Do Cockroaches Sleep? Most of the cockroach pest species have specific activity rhythms. They tend to “sleep”(or inactive) during the day and start to become active at night to look for food, usually four hours after lights out. That is why we often see them running around during our midnightsnack and bathroom runs.

How Long Do They Live? Cockroaches can live anywhere between a few months to a couple of years, depending on the species.

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