Cockroaches could revolutionize Human Lives Through Science and Technology

in science •  5 days ago


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In most parts of the world, Cockroaches are usually considered to be an indication of a dirty environment, filthy kitchen, and disgusting bathrooms.

However, articles I found online recently by Mary Colwell, which I share below, shows that these unique insects are now major interests in fields of robotics, mechanical limbs, and antibiotic research, asides from regularly fascinating pest controllers.

Species of Cockroaches

The Cuban cockroach which has a native bright green coloration in native Havana is considered a pet. It is even part of old Cuban folktales and holds special significance to the natives.

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Around the world, the known species of cockroaches are about 4,500 and out of this number, only 4 are considered pests.

Most species perform very vital ecological functions like eating decaying and putrefying matter, and they do not live near human habitations. Despite the ecological importance of roaches, they are not usually considered beautiful due to their bad reputation which is not justifiable most times.



The Subterranean Rhinoceros cockroach

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  • This specie measures 8cm in length
  • It is the heaviest cockroach specie
  • It weighs about 35g
  • It is found in Australia


The German cockroach

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  • It is one of the smallest pests
  • It is found in North America and Europe
  • It is just about 1cm in length
  • They are easily trapped using grounded coffee as baits.


Characteristics of Cockroaches

  • They can sing
  • They can hiss
  • They can make drumming sounds to attract a mate
  • They can be very hardy
  • They can survive for months on meagre ration of food
  • Some are endowed with brilliant colours and patterns
  • Some ‘roaches pair-up as mates and raise their young ones together
  • The Eublaberus posticus specie can survive on water alone, for a full year.
  • Some are social and pass on information about food and shelter.
  • Some can make collective decisions together.


Scientific significance and benefits

Cockroaches might be repulsive to so many of us but notable scientists have found them to be a source of inspiration for various scientific research and explorations.

In 1999, Prof Robert Full devised a six-legged robot that moved faster than any others, at the University of Berkley, after being inspired by the way cockroaches moved.

When explaining details of his work at the 2014 TED talk, Prof Full highlighted

  • cockcroaches springy legs
  • flexible exoskeletons consisting of plates and connected tubes
  • rounded body shape;

as factors which enable cockroaches to adapt to complex ecological terrains

Also, video footages of research done on cockroaches showed that when in an environment similar to a treadmill; and when exposed to assault environments the cockroaches display stability in negotiating their environment. It was also observed that their wings help them to right position themselves in the event that they do flip over.



Cockroaches to inspire robotic engineering

Technological advancements towards developing the next generation of prosthetic legs for humans, are beginning to source ideas through intense researches from the insects’ legs.

Head of Harvards Biorobotics Laboratory, Robert D Howe, says the study of the legs of cockroaches is aimed at being able to produce prosthetic hands that "glide along objects until it wraps around them, just like a human hand lifting a coffee cup".



Advanced Tech Fusion for Robotic roach

Robotic roach is a surgically fused live cockroach and a mini-computer. The procedure involves surgically attaching a mini-computer to the back of the roaches.

The cockroach can then be controlled and directed, by sending messages to the computer, guiding it to places collapsed structures, broken sewer, or emergency disaster region, difficult for human access, in order to collect data from such sites for analysis and interpretation.

A lead researcher on a Texas A&M University project, Hong Liang said;

"When I first saw them, my hair stood up."
"But I went on to keep some in my office as pets for a while. They are actually beautiful creatures. They are constantly cleaning themselves."



Humans can control cockroaches with the mind

Students from Shanghai Jiao Tong University demonstrated back in June, how to control cockroaches using the mind.

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Procedure of mind-controlling roaches

By attaching a receiver to a cockroach and translating human brain waves into measured electrical impulses, the students amazingly, were able to direct a cockroach down tunnels which were shaped differently just by thinking of it



Medicine and cockcroaches

In medicine, cockroach-related researches are on-going. It has been revealed that cockroaches produce their own powerful anti-biotics to shield their immune system from diseases.

Scientists made this amazing discovery after wondering how cockroaches could inhabit dirty and disgusting environments without experiencing ill effects. Studies on the phenomenon revealed that roaches produce their own anti-biotics.



Science, Technology, Cockroaches and the future

Cockroaches are now thought to hold the key to drugs which can be developed to fight the various virulent bacterial infections such as MRSA, E. coli, that make human sick.

Also, further studies could enable scientists create super drugs which can combat superbugs that are currently resistant to present day treatments



Cockroach cures currently exist, and are not new

A journalist and writer, Lafcadio Hearn who travelled extensively in the 19th century through the southern states of America observed that;

"For tetanus, cockroach tea is given. I do not know how many cockroaches go to make up the cup; but I find faith in this remedy is strong among many of the American population of New Orleans."



Present day treatment using cockroaches

In parts of China today, hospitals use a cream produced from powdered cockroaches to treat burns. Also, patients who suffer symptoms of gastroenteritis are sometime given cockroach syrup, to alleviate the problem.



Cockroaches: A money spinning business

Demands for cockroaches have been growing rapidly in China. A business man, Wang Fuming, observed the high demands and delved into the cockroach business.

Wang Fuming created a cockroach farm in the Shandong province of Eastern China, where he rears 22 million roaches at a time.

Fuming also stated that the price of dried cockroaches had risen to a staggering ten-fold since 2010. He rears them in an underground bunker in his cockroach farm.



Yummy Cockroaches as food

In China, cockroaches are also eaten, although the America cockroach in the popular and preferred delicacy.

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The roaches are double-fried in hot oil to give them a succulent inner part which is consistent with the feel of a cottage cheese; and a crispy and crunchy outer part which gives a yummy protein mouthful. Adding a sprinkling of chilli on the fried crispy insects also gives an additional flavor.



In Summary

Despite the fact that tech-wise, major advancement is currently being made in robotics, brain function and control, and other scientific fields, through thorough research and studies of cockroaches, one question still lingers;

Will cockroaches one day feed the world?

The world could do with an extra source of protein, as the global population and its need for mass produced protein gradually increases. Protein as food, could become commercially abundant in the nearest future, in the form of the very unpleasant cockroach insect.

Well, if people can grow to become a little less squeamish about our reviled earth co-habitants, then perhaps cockroaches could one day feed the world indeed.


Well, what are your thoughts? Kindly share them in the comments section below.



Source/Reference: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5



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I could only imagine the number of hours it took you to arrange this post. For that I'd say thank you for sharing.
The first time I saw a Chinese man in one CNN eating fried cockroaches I nearly jumped off my chair in surprise. Watching the documentary I saw cockroaches use as a medicinal ingredient that is highly sought after by the pharmaceutical companies. I was impressed by that.

Thanks for sharing. Be awesome. Steem it.

Warning the video below contains cockroaches and people eating it. If allergic to such things, I suggest you do not click. It is merely for scientific/educational purposes



Video courtesy of Youtube

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I watched something like that too sometime back. I nearly threw up.

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When I first saw it, I thought it was a fascinating surprise. But not everyone would think so. Cheers.

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It was a surprise alright. Tho i wouldn't quite call it fascinating.

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It is a subjective affair.

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Lolz.....yea, bro! Took me awhile putting this together. Thanks for visiting @greenrun.
About the roaches, they seem so disgusting to so many of us, honestly.
Yet, some others feel so cool handling them and eating them. The thought of a cockroach being on my arm alone is so unappealing, let alone eating a tastily fried one. Apparently, food preferences vary widely, the world over.

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The differences makes the world an awesome place.

To me roaches are deadlier than rats. I hate silly sounds they make too. Its funny how nutritious they have been found to be.

Well if cock roaches would end up becoming that important in the future and for human consumption, it then means there would be cockroach farms and would be done in a better and clean environment.

But cock roaches enjoy and thrive in dirty surroundings, I wonder if they would survive in clean places.

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Lolz. @gloglo....you are quite right. They thrive in filthy surroundings, but apparently they can also do well in relatively clean environments. Their naturally produced anitbiotics keep them from falling I'll. So, I'm sure if a Roach farm is cleanly managed, the roaches would also thrive there.
As for being nutritious, you might find them tastier that an egg @gloglo... you never know. Lol

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😲Tastier?... I don't think I want to imagine the taste, it might leave my head in a long time. But nah... nothing will taste better than egg...lol

i hate cockroaches! they make me sick ... the smell self... death

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They've got some great uses as you could see :)

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Lolz....@ttopswag. I can relate to your feelings.
But who knows, perhaps after trying out some of the tastily fried ones, you might begin to have a different view about them - not to mention there various scientific and technological potentials.

Given its benefits, only time can tell whether or not it would be widely accepted. The fact remains we still detest that thing especially for its disgusting smell. Some months ago, my sister had to wedge full war with them in our kitchen. I'm glad to say it was a war beautifully won coz till this day, they have been nowhere to be found.

This is an awesome work, rickie. Keep it up and thanks for sharing

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Lolz....Thanks @diana01 for visiting.
You are very right about the smell and disgust from roaches. I wonder what would be the reaction in naija when roaches are tastily fried and sold on the streets. Lolz
Glad your sister was able to rid her kitchen of them though. By the way, how did she manage that? By using insecticides?

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Yes, she used Mobil insecticide - one whole tin Judy good them.

Fried roaches for naija? Hehehe! Another roadside chop, suya's sister! Lol! Let that be for the imagination.

Excellent article @rickie well written and very informative.. I come from Africa and we have a great selection of these creatures, of which they have importance in our Eco system.. They also do taste nice depending on how they are cooked..

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Wow! Never been to any part of Africa where they are actually eaten.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts @gcurtis1967

really loved the article, beatifully written

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Woah yo, Biomimicry is honestly today's pioneering. It's delving into the engineering of nature. Pure Beauty.

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Wow good post. I still get the heebiegeebies from palmeto bugs they are everywhere in Florida and fly and get very big. I have heard that if there is a nuclear war roaches would survive it. Definitely something worth looking into. thanks

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