Your Friend: The Roach

A family out for a bite to eat.

A family out for a bite to eat.

Often dogs are credited as “man’s best friend,” but I beg to differ.  I offer you instead the humble roach. 

The usually and immediate reaction to the word “roach” (or the actual specimen) is disgust and panic.  I will fully admit that I don’t love them in our garage and that they give me the creeps when they skitter across the driveway, but I DO enjoy not being waste high in detritus.

Cockroaches are nature’s decomposers and are essential for returning nutrients to the soil.  They take one man’s trash – namely, yours - and turn it into little ecological treasures.

Additionally, roaches make tasty treats for reptiles, amphibians, fish, birds, other insects, and several mammals.  Not surprisingly, humans don’t love them (but have been known to eat them, though not frequently).  This is not because humans don’t like to eat bugs, but rather because of the particular taste of roaches which is similar to ammonia.  If you ever do decide to partake, know that they have three times as much protein as chicken.

Roaches are also good pollinators.  In fact, the first pollinators were beetles, not bees.  They are also the most frequently used speciments in the study of insect behavior, anatomy and physiology.

So in review, if you DON’T like being waste high in debris, but you DO like growing plants and eating, you must love the roach.

2 thoughts on “Your Friend: The Roach

  1. Hey Nicole – thanks for extolling the virtues of one of my favorite creatures, the oft-maligned and much misunderstood cockroach. But, a question. You say that “in fact the first pollinators were beetles, not bees.” That may be true, but what do beetles have to do with cockroaches? Beetles are advanced insects with complete metamorphosis – they first appeared about 265 mya. Cockroaches are one of the most primitive groups of insects. They have incomplete metamorphosis, and arose over 350 million years ago. Both groups greatly pre-dated the flowering plants. Some cockroaches do pollinate flowers, but as far as I know this is mostly incidental because they are generalist scavengers, and will sometimes eat pollen. I do not know of any flowers that are adapted for cockroach pollination, and that are specifically pollinated by them. However, there are several flowers that are specifically adapted for beetle pollination (magnolias are often given as an example, also some aroids, I believe some water lilies, etc.).

    Nancy

  2. Hello!

    I think this post was just wonderful. Not enough people realize how amazing roaches are. Thank you for elaborating on these magnificent creatures; I think the next one should be all about how AMAZING tarantulas can be as well! :D

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