Thursday, May 10, 2012

Do cockroaches have a purpose in life?

Do cockroaches have a purpose in life?

This very question was pondered as I tried to stamp out the little pests from my kitchen the other day. The electrician had just been in, and he fixed the display unit on the oven (which shorted out thanks to those infernal creatures).

So do these disgusting, annoying, ugly (from any angle really) creatures have any reason to live?

Well it turns out the parasites do play an important role in our vast ecology. They are part of the global food web – 'the circle of life'. Here is why:

Cockroaches eat just about anything. Being omnivore scavengers, they decompose and recycle the organic litter left behind by larger animals. The other big bonus is that cockroaches do not care about what they eat. Possessing a wide variety of bacteria and protozoa in their digestive system, they can eat everything!

This is one of the main reasons as to why cockroaches have survived for such a long period of time – 300 million years to be exact. Cockroaches declined in number as the earth’s climate changed periodically, but they are currently thriving due to human impact. 

The little scavengers live for two things – heat, and a decent feed (both of which we have in abundance). Humans have re-created the Utopia for cockroaches. Our homes are kept warm all year round, and we leave food lying all over the place. To top things off, there are plenty of places to hide for the cockroach – under the stove, in the dishwasher, behind the toaster – the list is endless.
Now to get one of those amphibians or lizards as a pet!

Funnily enough, most cockroaches aren’t pests. There are almost 3,500 species of cockroach in the world, and only 10 are on the World Health Organisation list of human pests. The majority of the cockroaches do not care about humans and their houses – choosing instead to recycle the waste products that are left outside. They also serve as food to small mammals, birds, amphibians and lizards. 

GreenSabah says:  I have been discussing about the balance of ecosystem with a fellow commentator Smokiekins, and I've used cockroaches as an example. So here is the full fact about cockroaches.


Anonymous said...

Lizards too have their purpose which is to eat mosquitoes. But what do you think are the purpose of mosquitoes? They seem to have no good purpose except spreading diseases like dengue and malaria.

Anonymous said...

Cockroaches are the living fossils which exist since the time of dinosaurs.

Green Sabah said...

You are right, Anonymous, each year, millions of people die from malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever after being bitten by a disease-carrying mosquito. Mosquitoes also carry diseases that pose serious threats to livestock and pets. However they do indeed serve a purpose in the aquatic food chain. Mosquito larvae are, in essence, nutrient-packed snacks for fish and other aquatic animals.

Green Sabah said...

Very true that Cockroaches are some of the oldest living fossils on earth dated back 350 million years. These ancient insects walked on the earth long before humans. Dating back to the dinosaurs, cockroaches have six legs, wings and antennae.

As for mosquitoes, they too have populated this planet long before man; the oldest mosquito fossils date back some 200 million years, to the Cretaceous period.

ferlo said...

setiap hidupan di dunia ada gunanya, termasuk Lipas.

Green Sabah said...

That's right, without the cockroaches, many of the waste would not be able to decompose.

albet wong said...

tapi kalau terlalu banyak pula lipas nanti lain pula jadinya.

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