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Cockroach togetherness depends on poop!
We have long known that cockroaches possess some kind of aggregation pheromone that attracts them and causes them to group together in desirable locations. Until now, researchers hadn’t been able to determine just how those pheromones were produced.
North Carolina State University entomologist Coby Schal and his team raised German cockroaches in sterile conditions so they would have germ-free droppings. What they discovered was that other cockroaches were not attracted to the germ-free poop of their friends, but when the germ-free cockroaches were fed bacteria, their now germy poop proved attractive to others.
The researchers determined that the germ-free droppings lacked the usual fatty acids that evaporate from roach poop once it is exposed to air. They concluded that it was these missing fatty acids that were the essence of the cockroach aggregation pheromone. Cockroach droppings need a bacterial component to attract other roaches to a safe haven where they can find food, shelter, and mates.
This research could prove useful in developing a synthetic aggregation pheromone for cockroaches that could be used to lure roaches to baits, traps, or even insecticides. It’s also a good argument for cleaning up cockroach debris such as egg cases, shed skins, and faecal droppings. Leaving cockroach droppings to accumulate in an account can only serve to attract other roaches to the site.
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