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Cockroaches helped fight the Vietnam war! (and a few other oddities sure to make you cringe a little)

Posted by mandyf on August 31, 2011

Cockroaches are usually considered to be pretty disgusting little insects, but in reality they are really no worse than most other insects. Some of the things they do is what is often thought of as being creepy though. They look kinda ugly, they are even the basis for monsters in some films. Shows like “Fear Factor” made a habit of featuring cockroaches in challenges because people are generally so repulsed by them that the mere thought of them sends chills up and down their spine.

The fact is that roaches do have some disturbing habits to most humans, but they are just doing what nature dictates and we as humans tend to freak out about that. While most people have heard time and again how a cockroach will still be around after a nuclear holocaust, what else is there off the beaten path to know about the generic garden variety cockroach?

* Cockroaches carry over 40 pathogens. They are perfect carriers for disease because they can seemingly get anywhere, laugh in the face of a can of Raid, and more disturbingly, they can do a pretty good job of actually getting inside you if they so desire. A regular old cockroach can carry hepatitis, typhoid fever, the plague, pneumonia, and it was theorized even polio.  That is pretty scary.

* A cockroach does have teeth, you just wont see them until you dissect one because they reside in the roaches stomach. On a related note, when roaches eat the food goes from the mouth to the stomach where it is chewed, then back to the mouth where it is mixed with saliva, then back to the stomach where it is re-chewed and finally processed.

* Cockroach excrement is cited as one of the leading causes of and agitators of asthma. Just another good reason to keep a clean mostly roach free house.

* The average cockroach is very flatulent passing gas about 4 times per hour which of course adds to global warming. When they die they continue to release methane for eight hours. Kill a roach and save the planet! Al Gore would be proud of you!

* Speaking of roach death, a cockroaches can survive without their head for around eight days which is when they finally keel over from lack of nourishment. Of course then they release that methane gas for eight hours so they really are like the gift that keeps on giving.

* There is a species of Brazilian cockroach that eats eyelashes! Human eyelashes! It really digs the eyelashes of babies! It doesn’t prefer babies because they are easy targets, as fate would have it the eyelashes of babies contain minerals the cockroaches are attracted to as well as the moisture from the tear ducts. These same roaches are also attracted to human nose hairs – again there are minerals in dem’ there hairs and the nose is usually a very moist environment.

* Cockroaches are like super soldiers that have been used to help to help defeat the enemy! As crazy as it sounds, during the Vietnam War cockroaches were like weird little super spies. When certain areas were identified as being used for meeting places for enemy collaborators, they were sprinkled with synthetic female cockroach pheromones. After the meetings took place, suspects would be rounded up an paraded past cages filled with male cockroaches. If they reacted by displaying an excited state, it was reasoned that the person was at the meeting and a collaborator and they did whatever they do with those folks.

The problem, as some people saw it, was that it was less than scientific as the meeting places were often frequented by loads of people for legitimate reasons. Not only that there was a strong possibility for false positive results. Still, it was a novel idea and way that cockroaches were used to do their part to try to topple the enemy.

As weird and disgusting as a cockroach may seem keep in mind that they exist for a reason. They are a part of the food chain and while we don’t like admitting it we actually do need a fair portion of cockroaches roaming the planet. We just don’t want them in our home eating our babies eyelashes or feasting on our nose hair.


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