Read the passage below and answer the questions that follow.
Τhe Dreaded Cockroach
Have you ever gone to the kitchen late at night, switched on the light and found one or more cockroaches on the counter or in the sink? And think, what was your immediate reaction? For most, it would have been a feeling of disgust and then finding a way to kill them using whatever was immediately available be it an insecticide, swatter or a cloth to crush them with. You would have also known that you had to act swiftly because cockroaches have lightning quick reflexes and would have scurried into some little crevice that you would not have been able to reach, leaving you angry and frustrated.
There is perhaps no insect or even animal that is more despised in the western world than the cockroach. One of the worst insults that one could hurl at a person is to call them a ‘cockroach’, meaning that they are dirty, treacherous and have zero morals. But are cockroaches as bad as all that? Well, yes and no. Cockroaches carry a kind of bacteria called salmonella on their legs and if this gets into people’s food it can cause dysentery. Also, there are some people who have allergies connected with cockroaches and thus suffer when cockroaches are around but on the other hand, cockroaches are not known to bite or attack people.
Cockroaches have been around on the planet for over 300 million years and there are over 4,600 different species of them but only around 30 of these species are found in human habitats. They can survive in vastly contrasting environments ranging from tropical climates and arctic ones where the temperature drops down to minus 122 degrees. These cockroaches are to survive such temperatures by producing a kind of ‘anti-freeze’ made of glyceral. Cockroaches can also live in aquatic environments as well as in arid ones where they do not have access to water at all.
It appears then, cockroaches are the ultimate survivors, however, it is not only because they can deal with a variety of environments. Amazingly, these creatures can also live without oxygen for 45 minutes, survive without any food at all for a month and still be vitally active, feed on only toothpaste and glue and if decapitated can happily wander about for hours. It is also known that cockroaches can withstand 15 times more radiation from a nuclear explosion than a human can.
As concerns its anatomy, a cockroach has a thorax of 3 segments and an abdomen that contains 10 parts. It has an exoskeleton which can repel water, 3 pairs of legs and hind wings it can use if it wants to fly. Larger cockroaches are found in tropical regions and some can reach a length of 10 cm and a width of 4.5 cm. but most cockroaches are about the size of one’s fingernail. Cockroaches can live up to one year in natural conditions and up to 2 years in a protected laboratory environment. They are very prolific and females produce 300 to 400 offspring in each egg case they deposit and can do this 8 times during their lifetime. There are some species of cockroach, however, that are nearing extinction like the Panesthia Iata and Delosia ornata.
While most people wish cockroaches didn’t exist, some people welcome them and find them useful. In Thailand and Mexico they are eaten, after some preparation of course, and in China they are used for medical purposes. Also, some cockroaches like the giant Madagascar hissing cockroach are kept as pets and the Russians have used cockroaches in space tests. In one such test a female cockroach named Nadezhda was sent into space, mated and produced offspring thus becoming the first terrestrial animal to give birth in space.