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January 06, 2015

A sort of pest control in reverse, or standing up for the ones, that nobody ever stands up for.

The way our brains work, we all have our mind set about certain things. It simply saves time to accept a common point of view rather than having to check everything out for yourself. You’d be surprised how scary it might seem to change your opinion even about something you don’t particularly care about.
However, it’s refreshing from time to time to look at things from a new perspective. If you are suffering from the right amount of boredom right now, some of these things might actually prove interesting.

The cockroach, despite being tiny and practically harmless, has somehow managed to earn the title for a creature we would most like to avoid. If you put ten adolescent girls in a room and play them a slide show of crocodiles, hippos, elephants, lions and a cockroach, guess which one will get that distinguishable ‘Get it away, get it away!’ reaction out of them. They would easily ignore the world-known fact that the crocodile’s bite caries the strength of some of the heavy industrial equipment we use to smash cars into little cubes. Therefore, this is not about instincts, this is about aesthetics. No logic or knowledge can argue with the ‘icky’ qualities of the cockroach.
Besides,anyonewho’s ever dealt with a cockroach infestation knows they aren’t much fun to be around and are sort of like herpes, in the sense that they never really go away.
But bear in mind, cockroaches are not humanity’s sworn enemies, they do not pose an immediate threat to your well-being and they are simply going with what nature gave them. Which is not much, most people would say.

If we were to make a profile of the personality of the human cockroach Larry, it would go something like this- Larry always dresses with dark colours from head to tow, wears his hair in a ridiculous sleek fashion with waaaay too much hair gel, always sneaks in on you when you don’t want to see him and on top of it all, kills your appetite when you see him around your food. Larry doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, does he?

In fact, the cockroach might turn out to be more of a sophisticated animal than you’d think.

1. For starters, they have been around for over 400 million years, which makes you think whether they complain about the recent infestation of humans in their homes. They have apparently served this planet’s purposes well enough, as to not be crossed off the list like thousands of other, ‘cuter’ species. Their evolution has given them the incredible ability to adapt, so we can only assume they might as well be on Mother Nature’s ‘VIP’ list.

2. Cockroaches are incredibly beneficial for medicine. Scientists are just now starting to discover all the ways it can be used for, and they are amazed with the results. It’s given a kickPowdered cockroach cream has proven to work extremely fast for burn wounds, and is even used in Korea for cosmetic facial masks. Gross, right? A syrup made out of cockroaches promises to be the new cure for infectious diarrhoea, stomach ulcers and pulmonary tuberculosis. The importance of this discovery is mostly appreciated in China, where a growing population of elders causes the need for cheaper alternatives of Western medication. In China, people are actually now making profits out of raising cockroaches and keeping them on their property(at least £30,000 a year, and up to £90,000 in a good year). The Far East always seems so backwards from our point of view, doesn’t it? Many of the ‘farmers’ even report getting attached to the insects and feeling reluctant at the thought of selling them.

3. In fact, even here in the West, it is not so uncommon for people to keep cockroaches as pets. In North America there is a growing number of owners of hissing cockroaches. Besides being able to take care of themselves (if you don’t feed it for a month, it will just alter its metabolism accordingly), being a good buddy for meditation thanks to their permanent Zen state, they are also quite fascinating due to the fact that after they get attached to you, they stop hissing at you or even at your neighbours. Living proof that cockroaches are not mindless yucky scum, wandering the Earth.

4. These insects are fascinating from a scientific point of view as well. Recent studies has shown that cockroaches have an extremely impressive learning ability, close to that of a dog. They also appear to be capable of transferring knowledge between each other, meaning that once a given cockroach learns details about the maze it has been tested on, the others catch on twice faster than they would the first time around. Unfortunately, this usually involves eating the head of the ‘scholar’ cockroach. I believe we can relate to that with the old ‘Take one for the team’ cliché.
Engineers have recently become interested in using this creature to help save human lives by designing a half-cockroach half-machine robot. They think the cockroach might prove incredibly useful thanks to its ability to sneak into almost any crack, its natural curiosity and being able to withstand many conditions that other living beings cannot. They are designing a device to attach to the back of a roach, controlling the cockroaches decisions whether to go left or right, which also has a microphone to listen for people, trapped under rocks or furniture, yelling for help.If you are wondering whether it’s fair to do that to cockroaches without their permission, then the goal has been achieved. They may not be lovable, cuddly or colourful but there still remains room to wonder whether they might be at least a bit intelligent, as well as one of the many gifts of nature that we have yet to understand.
One thing is for sure, however, everything seems quite easier to deal with when you don’t have to deal with it right now.