Yes, you heard it correct. Cockroaches! This insect, much reviled by most people, is grossly misinterpreted and misrepresented. The cockroach is not only our ancient relative going back some 350 million years, it is also one of the smartest animals in this earth’s history. How do you think they have survived so many great catastrophes and didn’t have to evolve very much to do it?
Are cockroaches dangerous? This is mainly a myth, unless you realize that they will outlive us. Actually, they are a benefit. They clean up all the wasted junk food in our houses – and for free! They may carry around 30 or more kinds of bacteria inside their bodies, but these are mostly the same as we carry. Besides, we have more than several thousand kinds inside us already.
I first came into contact with cockroaches in Africa almost 50 years ago. Some were nearly three inches long. At first, I also was appalled by these seemingly uncontrollable beasts. I had fear because I didn’t know anything about them. They were lucky because at that time there was no poison spray where I lived.
I got to know them even better in Taiwan. In a new, 14 floor building where I rented an apartment, they only took a couple of days to learn how to use the elevator in order to inhabit all of the floors! IQ “0”? Noooooo! I learned to get along with them. With this knowledge I began to wonder why cockroaches are so maligned in every culture, except maybe Africa, where they may be food for humans.
Cockroaches have a rich social life, are really smart, can learn quickly, have a good memory and are cute. We have provided a “cockroach heaven” for them. There are over 3500 different kinds of cockroaches now on this earth. In the USA alone there are at least 70 kinds due to recent immigration. Are they illegals? They traveled on ships and airplanes – without even paying for tickets! If that isn’t smart, I don’t know what is.
Cockroaches usually hide during the daytime and come out at night, when we are sleeping. They can sense from quite a long distance when we are coming by using their very sensitive antennae, thus they can run and hide. Even when the pickings are not very good, such as when we might be away on vacation, cockroaches can live for a month without food. Some have even become resistant to poison. They can even reproduce prolifically. With each egg sack containing a dozen future progeny, after three months they hatch. After that, some may live for several years.
Cockroaches don’t want to get rid of us. They want to live off of us. They hope we will learn from our mistakes and survive longer. We should learn to live and work with them! We can run, but we can’t hide. Cockroaches are great teachers if we would ever listen to them. They are cooperative, flexible, optimistic, patient and not destructive of their environment. There is nothing to fear but fear itself.
Why do I believe in cockroaches? Because they are cute, living beings, smart and will outlive us. We can lean a lot from them. Wake up, humans!
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