Cockroach sex took a weird turn

“As for how it will affect the population, it’s really complicated,” Dr Wada-Katsumata said. That’s because, despite blockages, glucose-...


“As for how it will affect the population, it’s really complicated,” Dr Wada-Katsumata said.

That’s because, despite blockages, glucose-averse cockroaches still find ways to do the deed.

In lab experiments, Dr. Wada-Katsumata and colleagues showed that glucose-averse females are more nervous towards males than wild-type cockroaches, what researchers call non-glucose-averse cockroaches. However, they also found that glucose-averse men seem to compensate for this by switching to sex more quickly after giving the gift.

“Glucose-averse females could spend, say, three seconds feeding on secretion from the male,” said Coby Schal, Distinguished Professor of Entomology at North Carolina State and author of the study. “The wild-type male doesn’t respond in three seconds. The glucose averse male does.

Researchers even have evidence to suggest that all of these new pressures are potentially causing changes in the chemistry of the glucose-averse male’s nuptial gift so that he can continue to attract females.

From a scientific perspective, the German cockroach sugar saga shows how humans can drive both natural selection – the cockroaches that survive our poison traps – as well as sexual selection – the glucose averse cockroaches who no longer want to mate with cockroaches who still offer sweet snacks.

“I think that’s what makes this so compelling,” Dr. Schal said. “The idea that humans impose a very strong selection on the animals around us, especially inside our home, and that animals respond not only with physiological changes, but also with behavioral changes.”

The good news for consumers is that pesticide manufacturers share Dr. Wada-Katsumata’s and Dr. Schal’s enthusiasm for understanding cockroach evolution, and they are actively changing their anti-cockroach formulations away from glucose. But given the novelty of this research, it will take some time for these changes to find their way into the products on our shelves.

“The worst thing you can have as a product is bait that isn’t eaten by cockroaches,” Dr. Schal said.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Cockroach sex took a weird turn
Cockroach sex took a weird turn
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