Cockroaches are insects of the order Blattodea that live in hot and humid places, which are considered part of the set of insects most hated by populations, due to their reputation as polluting pests. However, the truth is that most species of cockroaches have beneficial properties, both for humans and for the environment.

Much of the population is instantly disgusted when they see a cockroach inhabiting their home, or even with the simple fact of hearing them name. And although it is true that they can cause terrible consequences for humans if care is not taken, not all species of cockroaches can be pigeonholed in that section of pollutants; since these serve as an unconventional medicinal method, as well as being a source of food for other animal species.

Benefits of cockroaches

Cockroaches play an important role on the planet, it is estimated that only about 30 species are considered pests for humans. The rest of the 5000 species offer benefits to the planet, among which the following should be mentioned:

Accelerate the decomposition of animals

Cockroaches exist for a reason, and that is that they help the decomposition process of other living things by feeding on them. By carrying out this process, they consume the nitrogen from organic waste and deposit it in a processed way, ready to be used by plants and all living things that inhabit the place.

They favor the food chain

Cockroaches are food for mice and other small mammals, also for some birds and reptiles, which are food for larger mammals, and so on. Therefore, although cockroaches are not the only food for their predators, undoubtedly, without them, the living conditions of a large number of animals would be affected, which could reduce the animal diversity that exists on the planet.

They are a highly nutritious exotic food

In the Asian continent it is very common to see food stalls with seasoned, fried or roasted cockroaches, especially in China. All this is due to the fact that, the consumption of certain cockroaches, provides high levels of proteins and essential amino acids for the body, it even provides proteins in percentages greater than those that beef can offer.

However, you must be careful with the cockroaches that are consumed because not all are suitable for this purpose. In Asia, there are breeding sites for these insects, where they ensure that they will not have contact with contaminated surfaces, so that their consumption is not harmful to humans.

On the other hand, in Brazil they are conducting studies to make a flour based on dehydrated cockroaches, which has all the characteristics of wheat flour, but with 130% more protein. This study does not yet have a consumer permit and is still in development stages.

They serve to treat some diseases

In China they have developed remedies based on the properties of cockroaches, and these are part of their traditional medicine. Even called a miracle drug, this remedy has the power to combat a number of ailments in faster times than conventional medicines. In addition, they are also used to treat diseases such as tuberculosis, gastritis, ulcers and respiratory problems, thanks to their antibiotic properties.

However, according to scientists, the Periplaneta Americana species is ideal for this task, because it contains the medicinal properties in greater proportions. In turn, they are cheaper than Western medicines.

Cockroach characteristics

The characteristics of these animals vary according to the species, however, most of these, have a large number of physical qualities in common, for which they are easily identified as cockroaches. Among the characteristics of cockroaches should be mentioned:

Body

They are elongated in the shape of an oval, flattened and with a shell that covers them completely. They have a hidden head, where a pair of antennae with nerve endings are located, which help them to identify noises, smells and predators.

They have three pairs of spiny legs, which are useful for walking on any surface and under any inclination. The wings are not characteristic of all species, some have them to fly and others have short ones that are not useful.

Reproduction

Most of the species are oviparous, that is, they lay their young in eggs and then incubate them. A few others give birth to their young already formed, and some do not even need a male to reproduce.

Habitat

They are animals from hot and humid places, preferably those that are dark. For this reason, they are common in sewers, in addition to the fact that these sites have abundant decomposing matter, which serves as food.

Feeding

Cockroaches eat meat and vegetables, that is, they are omnivorous. In addition, they eat excrement, cardboard, starchy roofs, cloth, and just about anything else they can access.

Cockroach species

There are around 5000 identified species, and it is estimated that there are a few thousand more yet to be identified. Most of them are found in wild environments, others, approximately 50, are possible to find in cities.

The four most common species of cockroaches in homes are:

American cockroach

They are found in all parts of the world and are the largest of those that can be found in urban planning. They have a light brown color and are a bit transparent around the edges, they are usually about 5 cm long and have large wings, which allow them to fly. Also, they go out at night mostly.

German cockroach

It is a small species, measuring a little more than one centimeter and they are yellowish brown in color. These are the worst pest, as they reproduce quickly and are a big problem for infestations in restaurants and homes. They have fully developed wings, however, they do not have the ability to fly.

Oriental cockroach

They are native to colder climates, unlike most species, they do not support hot climates. They are dark brown or black, therefore, they are often mistaken for beetles. They are usually a couple of centimeters long; In addition, they are easily distinguished by giving off a strong bad smell, due to the amount of bacteria and viruses they consume.

Brown band cockroach

They are transparent with brown bands and others of yellow color, hidden under the wings. They are common indoors, so they tend to quickly infest the place they inhabit. They measure around 15mm, and feed mainly on furniture and household items such as books and fabrics. They are pests, spreading more than 30 types of bacteria, as well as worms, parasites and some viruses.

Diseases caused by cockroaches

Cockroaches are not responsible for causing disease on their own, they are only spreaders. The dirty habitats in which these insects live fill them with bacteria and germs, which they later deposit on food and objects with which they come into contact.

They spread salmonellosis, typhoid fever, cholera, tuberculosis and many other diseases caused by bacteria. For this reason, it is especially important to eradicate these cockroaches from homes and, if there is suspicion that they may have had contact with some food, it should not be consumed.

On the other hand, they can also cause allergies and asthma, thanks to the fact that their protein contents can be allergens for some people.

Fun facts about cockroaches

Regardless of the benefits and problems these insects can cause, there are a number of facts that make cockroaches intriguing.

  • They are incredibly fast for their size, traveling at nearly three miles per hour.
  • They can go up to 40 minutes without breathing, even underwater.
  • They are attracted to alcoholic beverages, probably because of the levels of sugar they contain.
  • They can live without their head, since they do not need it to breathe. However, after a week, they end up dying of dehydration.
  • The largest species can reach 15 cm.
  • They have existed on Earth since prehistoric times, excavations showed that they coexisted with dinosaurs.
  • They can live up to a month without food, but only a week without water.
  • Some species can live for 1 to 2 years.
  • They inhabit all continents, except Antarctica.

Bottom Line: Are Roaches Really Important?

Cockroaches are very important to maintain the balance of the ecosystem, in fact, their disappearance would be terrible for the rest of the food chain. In addition, scientists have come a long way so that humans can take full advantage of their benefits, either by direct consumption or by foods made from them.

However, it is important to keep in mind that cockroaches that appear in homes are pests, so care must be taken of an infestation, in order to avoid diseases. If the presence of these pests is detected, you should go to a professional to eradicate them.

Samantha Robson
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Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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