30 November 2012

The amazing cockroach

The last time I was with my friend A. (the contributor of the snake encounters stories in my previous post), our discussion somehow turned to cockroaches...

Before I moved to India, my experience with cockroaches was very limited. Thankfully I never had to share spaces with them, and the cockroaches I had seen were quite small… compared to the super-size cockroaches you see here. Luckily, I rarely encounter one at home and when I do, it’s usually already dead because the cat immediately stalks and kills anything smaller than herself. I’ve also learnt how to deal with them – dead or alive – I just take a broom and sweep them out the door.

My husband told me some amusing stories about cockroaches at the office. One day at the canteen, a co-worker found a dead cockroach in his food. When he complained to the management, the explanation he got was: "We have a new chef."

Another colleague told him about a co-worker who had the misfortune of finding one in her coffee cup. He thought it important to add that the unfortunate girl was a vegetarian.

Anyway, back to the discussion on cockroaches… A. mentioned an article in The Hindu by Menaka Gandhi which listed many interesting facts about cockroaches. A faithful Hindu reader, I didn’t recall the article but made a mental note to look it up. A day or so later, I picked up some newspapers I had put aside to read in more detail and one had the cockroach article...

So here are some amazing facts you probably didn’t know about the cockroach:

It can run three miles in one hour — the fastest insect alive.

It can hold its breath for 40 minutes.

It can live a week without a head, only dying of thirst because it has no mouth to drink water.

It can squeeze into cracks that are 1.6 millimetres thick — the equivalent of you trying to fit into a football.

It can survive temperatures as low as 0 degrees centigrade but when it gets really cold, it likes snuggling with humans or any other warm body.

It can recognise members of its own family just by their smell.

Its heart is a simple tube that can pump blood both backwards and forward and even stop at will without harming the insect.

The cockroach is the greatest escape artist of all time with an uncanny ability to sense danger, whether that of a live predator or a broom. How does it do that? With its hair (when was the last time your hair told you anything?)

You can read the full article by Menaka Gandhi here.


Michelle said...

I had no idea that cockroaches were so big in India until I saw one outside one night and had a sort of "What the **** is that!??" moment. These guys tie with spiders for my least favorite creatures, although I do have to give them credit for being so...indestructible.

Indian Bazaars said...

These are some amazing things to know about the cockroach. We went on an organised insect walk once and were so surprised that there was so much to know! The children in the group had the nicest time since they were spotting new insects faster than the rest of us! and, were being applauded for being the first discoverers!!

Rodwellian said...

Wow. Those are some amazing but very scary stats. I hope you are well. Perhaps next year J and I will finally make it to India. Your blog is so interesting and lovely.

Rodwellian said...

Crazy stats. I'm not sure it is convincing me to visit. Yet, I still would like to. Your blog is great and it's been awhile since I visited. Hope you guys are well.

Isabel said...

Thanks for stopping by Lisa. I hope you guys are doing well and that the cockroaches won't put you off from visiting India!