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  • Writer's pictureChelle Hartzer

Can You Feel the Love? (AKA: Go get a room!)

I’ve been seeing a lot of news about cockroaches lately. I can’t quite tell if they are getting a lot of hate, or a lot of love. Either way, it is sort of fun, it’s a great cause, and I’m all in. So let’s talk about cockroaches and love!

German cockroaches dance. They do this cute little mating dance (okay, I think it’s cute!) where they touch antennae and then flare their wings. Plus, the female cockroaches show their eggs some love: they carry their eggcase with them until just before it is ready to hatch. That protects them from harm like squishing and pesticides.

They sing sweet love songs. At least to their ears, Madagascar hissing cockroaches will make a hissing sound to attract a mate. There are other cockroaches that rub their wings together to produce a “song” as well.

Gifts are always appreciated. With many species, including German cockroaches, the males will give females a gift of body secretions. This contains sugars and fats and keeps her attention while they mate. Of course, this can go wrong when some strains have an aversion to sugar and basically reject the male’s gift. Don’t feel too bad, the males have adapted. Instead of mating for the usual 90 minutes, the males have gotten quick; as little as a minute, and they are done.

They wear perfume. Okay, a bit of an exaggeration, but there are pheromones (chemical “smell” signals) released by cockroaches. In most species, the female emits a sex pheromone, and a male produces an aphrodisiac pheromone. This helps them find a suitable mate. There is at least one species that the male produces both the sex and the aphrodisiac pheromones.

There is a bit of urgency. While males were always up for a little love no matter how old they were, females were a bit more choosy when younger, and a bit less as they aged. As females get older, they required less courtship than their younger brethren. You can’t blame them too much, as you they get older, all the flashy dancing and crazy behavior just isn’t as appealing.

It can get somewhat kinky. I’m not judging, everyone has their own likes and dislikes. In the case of a wood eating cockroach, they nibble on each other's wings when they are finished mating. Would that be considered a love bite?

But it is sweet too. The same cockroaches are also monogamous, they mate for life. As nice as that sounds, it could be because they have chewed off each other's wings and they can't fly away...

They like the beauty of a good sunset. Circadian rhythms come into play with many species and it seems like twilight is their preferred time of day. Of course, most species are nocturnal, so technically this might be their morning.

The question many of you are asking right now if you have read this far into the blog: what does any of this matter to pest control? Great question, thanks for asking. The more we know about the biology and in this case mating habits of our pests and closely related species, the more we can learn about controlling them. Using pheromones to interrupt or decrease their mating, using sound (NOT ultrasound) to deter them from finding one another, and even finding ways to interrupt their gift-giving will help us better control these in the future.

So let’s all give cockroaches a bit of love, head over to your local zoo and donate, or donate to one of these that are all doing some type of cockroach valentines day special. And contact us about the problems you are having with these insects, we can help!

Urban pest consulting

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