Ugh! Do cockroaches have ANY positive, useful purposes at all?

Is there ANYTHING about cockroaches which could be consider positive? Anything at all? Are they a source of compounds that can help develop new disease fighting drugs? Is there any industrial use for them at all? Can they be used for scientific research? Are there even worse pests that they eat? Anything? Anything at all? So far, the only good thing I’ve found about cockroaches is the sick and twisted pleasure I get from killing them in the microwave. Ah, that gorgeous popping sound and the exquisite little screams of agony …

They are important ecological garbage men, cleaning up and recycling the world’s detritus into nice plant-friendly nutrients. Detritus that includes those crumbs you leave on the counter :wink:. They also make great lab animals for a variety of researchers.

Now, there are few memories I have more horrifying than the TWO times as a kid that MASSIVE FLYING cockroaches got caught in my hair on different warm, summer evenings in NYC. Happy, I was not. And a few species are genuine health hazard pests in terms of the allergens they can spew in high enough concentrations.

But it is a huge order with thousands of species, only a handful of which fall into the pest category. And hey, every downbeat hack scifi story suggests they will be our super-evolved successors on a doomed, ravaged world. So they deserve a tip of the hat :smiley:.

Yes, don’t blacken the name of our fine roaches with your bastard German and American pestilence.

The Giant Burrowing Cockroach makes a fine pet. Any bigger and you could put a saddle on it.

No matter how bad things get, you can always say; “At least I’m not a cockroach.”

Agree about sick and twisted.
Cockroaches freak me out, and I have killed a fair few myself but I still find it a bit disturbing that someone would take pleasure in their suffering.

This sort of reminds me of the comedy bit where Ellen Degeneres is asking God the questions she does not understand over the telephone. She tells him that she does not understand why there are fleas. There is a very long pause. “Wow. I guess I really didn’t understand how many people are employed by the flea collar industry.”

They’re a reminder to keep your kitchen and the rest of your house clean.

They are much better feeder bugs for pet geckos than the crickets that are typically found at most pet stores.


I will say that in certain cities with dense clusters of ancient brick apartment buildings (like say NYC or Philadelphia) you could keep the most antiseptic home short of a hard vacuum and you can still get visited by our scurrying little friends. They’re literally in the walls and almost impossible to completely eradicate short of a nuclear weapon.

Even though I’m no longer nearly as grossed out by them as I was as a kid (taking courses in entomology is a great way to break mild bug phobias), one thing I like about where I live now is I rarely come across them these days. Haven’t seen one in a home I’ve lived in for ~40 years now. But I still remember a friend who moved to SF from NYC who inadvertently brought some of neighborhood cockroaches with him smuggled in his alarm clock!

Well, they weren’t invited onto the Ark, but they sneaked about while Noah wasn’t looking. The rest is history.

As I awoke one morning from uneasy dreams I found myself transformed in my bed into a gigantic insect. It coulda been you.

I suspect this is the case in many places. I live in central Arkansas, and when I go for a walk at night I will occasionally see a cockroach scurry across the street or the sidewalk. They’re going to walk into the house on occasion.

I didn’t know “smoking cockroaches” was a thing until I saw it on YouTube where people put cockroaches in jars, insert cigarettes one by one through a hole in the jar and light them and see the roaches panic from the nicotine.

As someone put it, “I had heard of people smoking roaches, but never seen a roach smoking.”

Is there anything like that about humans?

As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic panda.’

… gigantic chicken?

… gigantic armadillo?

Nope - has to be a cockroach.

A guy I know in the flea chemicals business told me an interesting bit of trivia. The original idea behind flea collars was interesting. At one point people believed fleas drank tears from around the eyes and ate poop from around the butt. By placing a noxious collar around the neck, fleas couldn’t get by and would starve or dehydrate.

After typing this I went in search of a cite, but it’s a difficult search. Hmmm. The guy who told me this was a biochemist of some stature.

The purpose of cockroaches is to make more cockroaches, and they’re very good indeed at it.

I’ve heard a variation of that, which seems a bit more plausible: Fleas are highly sensitive to the body temperature of the blood they are sucking, and migrate around the host’s body (above and below the neck) to find the ideal spot. As they pass by the collar, they get poisoned.

That was a prevalent belief back when I was a teenager, circa the '70s. Then again, the prevailing wisdom was to give your dog lots of garlic to repel the fleas–knowing what we know now about dog physiology and alliums I wonder how many doggos got lovely cases of hemolytic anemia from following that advice.