GIANT HISSING COCKROACH
Blaberidae (giant cockroaches)
HABITAT AND RANGE
Hissing cockroaches inhabit the heavily wooded forests of the island of Madagascar. They can be found under logs, rocks and detritus.
Males and females exhibit sexual dimorphism. Males are slightly smaller than females and have small ‘horns’ on their thorax. Females lack these horns and have smooth antennae as opposed to the fuzzy antennae of males. The fuzzy antennae are probably due to an increased need of chemosensory surface area to detect female pheromones. They usually reach lengths of 3 inches long but there have been claims of finding larger specimens.
Cockroaches are decomposers (that’s why the like trash). They eat any decaying organic matter be it plant or animal remains. They are essential to a healthy ecosystem by returning nutrients to the soil to be recycled by plants.
REPRODUCTION AND LIFESPAN
Cockroaches reproduce quickly and in large quantities by constantly laying hundreds of eggs. Nymph stage of life lasts 9 months and lifespan is up to three years.
They get their name by being able to imitate the hissing sound of a snake. When threatened, they force air out of the sides of their bodies through ‘spiracles’ to imitate a snake and hopefully scare off enemies. They cannot hear their own hisses because they lack aural sensory organs. Most insects communicate via chemical messages called pheromones. Roaches have changed little since they first appeared 300 million years ago during the Carboniferous period during which they were the predominant insect. There are 4,000 species of roaches worldwide. They are so successful due to the wasteful tendencies of humans.