Ah, cockroaches. The scummy, skittering, pesky little pests that somehow manage to vanish whenever you flick on the bathroom light. Like Mother Nature's little Batmans. Part of what makes them so hard to control is their resiliency, which is something of a biological marvel. Here are five reasons the humble roach will outlive us all:
1. They can adapt at a scary-fast rate
In the mid-1980s, exterminators began mixing sugary roach-bait with slow-acting poisons intended to spread and wipe out entire nests. It was an effective pest-control strategy, at least at the time. But by 1993 a strange thing happened: The toxins stopped working.
A new study from North Carolina State University may have the answer. New Scientist reportsthat, according to biologists, the cockroaches had "tweaked their internal chemistry so that glucose tastes bitter to them." Surviving bugs then "passed their aversions on to their descendants, and Darwinian selection made it more common."
In other words, the roaches had evolved in just a few generations.
2. Females don't need males to reproduce
Females can deliver 40 to 60 live offspring per birth. Need proof? Here's a really gross video:
But laying dozens of ghostly vermin isn't their only super-efficient reproductive trait. Females are capable of what scientists term parthenogenetic reproduction, or virgin births. According to the University of Massachusetts' biology department, "The American cockroach is said to be able to produce parthenogenetic offspring under severe conditions when no males are available." Girl roaches, in theory, could run the world. [continue]