When people think of survivors, They usually think of the CBS show, or veterans of a war. These people can all be named survivors. A survivor is someone or something that adapts quickly to a changing environment. Using that definition, the ultimate survivor on this planet would have to be the nefarious cockroach.
The cockroach is one of the most primitive insects on Earth. According to the Cockroach Control Manual at IANRWWW.UNL.EDU, their ancestors lived 200-350 million years ago in the Carboniferous Period, even before the dinosaurs. The Carboniferous Period was also called the Age of the cockroaches because they were so abundant. According to P.B. Cornwell’s The Cockroach, Volume One, cockroaches belong to the same family as the termite. Some theorists estimate that roaches branched off from termites about 50 to 70 million years ago. Both creatures are social insects who work in unison for food gathering, reproduction, and defense. According to the Cockroaches make great pets home page, there are over four thousand species of cockroach. While humans only consider about 25-30 different types, which is less than one percent of the total population here on earth, to be pests. The largest roach is the Megoblatta which has an 18-inch wingspan. The heaviest, is the rhinoceros roach of Australia which weighs in at 50 grams. The smallest roach is Attaphilla fungicola which is only four millimeters long and lives in the nests of Leaf Cutter Ants. Most roaches are nocturnal. Their habitat ranges from forest floors, to caves, to water. They are highly optimized for their environment, and according to the May 1996 Discover magazine, they can run at a top speed of five feet per second.
According to Gordon Ramel in The Blattodea, Cockroaches like all creatures that bring themselves regularly to mankind’s attention, cockroaches have acquired a large number of common names, such as “lucifaga” because they flee the light. In Sweden they are called “Brotaetare”, which means bread eaters. In England they are called “Steambugs” or “Shiners”. Here in the U.S. they’re known as “Bombay canaries” or “ghetto puppies”. And, of course, in Africa, some species are known as “American Cockroaches”.
Weather American or German roaches, they are everywhere. According to the Cockroach Manual Cockroaches gather in dark places that have high humidity, contain paper, wood and other porous surfaces and have food readily available. They aggregate in these areas because the surfaces are marked with an aggregation pheromone, found in their feces. A pheromone is a chemical produced by one cockroach that affects the behavior of others. This aggregation pheromone is very attractive to the immature stages. An example of these gathering places are in cracks and crevices around cabinets, wall and ceiling voiding, in and around refrigerators, dishwashers , stoves, washers and dryers, and water heater. // Second, They will eat anything. According to Ramel, All known species of roaches are omnivorous. This means that like you and me, roaches will eat nearly anything. In fact, American cockroaches are known as Born inebriates. According to the Cockroach Control Manual, their desire for booze is so strong that often beer bottles or bread soaked with beer is used as bait by exterminators. I suppose that with their desire for beer, it is no surprise that most college dorms are filled with roaches. // Third, they are very good at reproduction. In fact, according to Ramel, for the cockroach, the process of reproduction usually lasts about an hour. //The female roach will produce an egg case containing 30 to 40 eggs four to eight times in her lifetime. Thus, every female can crank out over 300 offspring in their lives. If half of them live to be old enough to reproduce, and that one hundred and fifty each produce 300 young…it should be no surprise why the roach population in your apartment can get so big so fast.
Some species don’t even need the male contribution to reproduce, they are parthenogenic and the females just keep producing more and more female roaches. There is one saving grace, though, thankfully, cockroaches are eaten by a wide range of small mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Roaches are among the common house cat’s favorite delicacies. The high-pitched squeal roaches make attracts the cat’s attention and, I suppose, the taste keeps them coming back. Even other insects like the cockroach might feed on out little brown friends.
It is important to note that, despite common belief, cockroaches are not associated with disease in the way fleas and mosquitoes are. They do not carry microbes within their bodies, nor do they introduce them to humans through bites; rather they just happen to frequent wet dirty places that also favors microbe growth. So, they can carry disease-creating germs by contact.
Mankind’s long relationship with Cockroaches probably began with the Cockroach being one of man’s main staple food items because they shared the same shelters. This relationship degenerated when man began storing large amount of food. The Cockroach became an unwanted roommate of humanity. Ships were particularly prone to outbreaks of cockroaches, mainly because they offered a predator free habitat. In 1634 the first entomology book in Britain proclaimed that Drake s ship was brimming with roaches. In 1792, Captain Bligh was so determined to rid the swarm of roaches that he doused his ship with gallons of boiling water. Today millions of dollars are spent each year on getting rid of roaches. According to Orkin pest control, in the year 2000 alone, 18 million dollars have been spent on exterminating cockroaches.