Cockroaches. Just the word makes you cringe, doesn't it? Well, perhaps
if I share some recently discovered social traits of cockroaches,
you might, well, understand them better.... Though I'm not saying you
will necessarily welcome them into your home...
Some interesting findings from research published by French and U.S. biologists in the journal Insect Sociaux (Social Insects)...
1. Cockroaches may be creepy to humans, but they are actually quite sophisticated social creatures and pretty friendly too.
2. Of the 4000 or so species of cockroach, only about 25 have adapted themselves to human environments. (Be thankful for that.)
3. Though not formally recognized as a eusocial insect, which is the highest level of socialization among insects, the cockroach has several attributes of those insects, including family recognition and family living arrangements with generations of the same family living together.
4. Cockroaches form close-knit egalitarian societies and make communal decisions for the greater good.
5. The termite, which is considered to be eusocial, is now known to be a direct descendant of the cockroach. (A new way to look at termites.)
6. The main difference between eusocial (bees, ants, termites, etc.) insects and egalitarian insects like cockroaches, is that eusocial insects have a queen female that is the only female allowed to mate, whereas in egalitarian insects, any member can mate.
7. Cockroaches use their body chemicals (cuticular hydrocarbons) to communicate to others about where the best food can be found or where they can safely seek shelter for the day.
8. When forming a decision about the best place to find shelter, all members of a 'clan' will make the same choice. They even make the same decisions on where to get their food.
9. Lone cockroaches are rare. Young cockroaches need to be in close contact with other young'uns to mature properly. Isolation can result in an inability to join a group later in life and in an inability to mate. Additionally, cockroaches can become physically sick and die prematurely from isolation syndromes.
10. Cockroaches lay a trail of feces (not attractive to human olfactory senses) by which others can identify relationships - "kin recognition." Among other things, kin recognition keeps roaches from mating with other relatives. (Guess that means they are smarter than some humans!)
Dr Mathieu Lihoreau of the National Centre of Scientific Research in Rennes, France, who led the cockroach studies, believes that further research on cockroach social behavior will provide greater information about the social evolution of animal, and possibly even human, societies.
That's the buzz for today!