Horizon at Sandy Point

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Consider the cockroach

Sometimes the wild comes into our houses. Take the giant tropical bush roaches that fly (!) through an open window. This is followed by shrieks and yells from daughter, son and husband!

Seems like Wildgirl  is the only one with the presence of mind to grab slipper, newspaper, or book, and whack the living daylights out of a creature whose flat chitinous wings form an almost impenetrable shell. But it never takes longer than a few seconds for a being many thousands of times larger to do it in.

About 4000 species of cockroaches inhabit the earth -  it is thought that termites evolved directly from an early form of roaches. And roaches are the descendants of the most primitive winged insects. Like many other creatures, roaches have an affinity for humans and the food that can be found in our spaces. They have tremendous "survivability" - up to three or four months without food or water - and are able to re-emerge after submersion in water for over half an hour; and higher resistance to radiation than vertebrates.

They are highly "social" in that they have been observed preferring to cluster with other roaches. They leave chemical traces that let other roaches know where they are. So next time you attend a political rally, just think - how different are we from the roaches. We all want the same things - food, shelter, and to be loved!!

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