Using Science to Kill Cockroaches

Learning more about why and how cockroaches congregate may lead to more effective trapping and baiting techniques.

Cockroach Communication

Scientists are learning more about how cockroaches communicate with each other and whether or not they prefer to go it alone or live in groups. Everyone knows there is a myriad of roaches you can't see for everyone you do, but scientists were previously unsure whether or not the bugs like living together. It turns out perhaps they do, and this discovery could lead to some great advances in cockroach extermination in Las Vegas and elsewhere.

The Loners

In experiments, groups of cockroaches were cleaned of any bacteria and then studied. These roaches seemed perfectly content to go it alone, living a solitary existence focused on searching for food and water. Testing revealed that these loners actually preferred roach feces-containing water to sterile water and, when reintroduced to bacteria from other roaches, once again began living in groups.

The Crowd

The study further attempted to discern how cockroaches communicated with each other, and the result was that they did so through bacteria and fatty acids they excrete in their feces. While roaches can live just fine on their own, they will always gravitate towards other roaches when feces laden with bacteria is introduced into the environment.

The Result

Fatty acids found in the feces of the gathering roaches were isolated and reproduced in a lab. When introduced to germ-free roaches, these synthetic compounds had the same effect on the roaches as the natural roach feces, encouraging them to congregate. In the future, this information could lead to more effective roach traps and bait, making it easier to rid your home of unwanted guests.

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