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  • Aug 10, 2017
Cockroaches Are Flower Pollinators

Believe it or not, some cockroaches are essential to flower pollination. Of the 4,500 known species, only 1 percent live in cities. The other 99 percent live in the wilderness of many ecosystems from the Saudi Arabian deserts to the rain forests of Brazil. According to National Geographic, a new study found that Moluchia brevipennis, a species of cockroach native to the scrub lands of Chile, eats pollen and might even pollinate plants.

Other Cockroaches are Flower Pollinators, Too

The Moluchia brevipennis is the newest species that may pollinate flowers. The other two are found in French Guiana and Malaysian Borneo. There may be more, but because studies on wild cockroaches are rare, researchers do not yet know of other species. Between 2000 and 2016, only 178 scientific papers have focused on wild cockroaches. Compare that with tens of thousands of research papers and studies on bees and ants.

The research team found that the wild cockroaches come out at dusk to eat the pollen from native plants. The cockroaches also lay their eggs on Puya, a genus of bromeliad plants. At this time, entomologists believe that cockroaches rely on native plans, as they are safer than non-native plants. As the cockroaches eat the pollen, they also get it on their legs and bodies. When they move to the female plant, they deposit the pollen onto the reproductive parts of the female plants.

Cockroaches are Good and Bad

The cockroaches you see in urban areas are good and bad. They are crucial to the environment as they eat a ton of decaying organic matter. However, that very organic matter that comes from feeding on garbage and human waste. Cockroaches leave vomit and smell, and that smell is difficult to get rid of.

They also leave feces and partially digested food. And, if they were into something that has disease organisms and parasitic worms, they'll spread that to your house. Organisms and worms are also spread through the saliva cockroaches leave as they nibble at food. Other microbes that could be harmful to humans are also spread by the hairs on a cockroach's body.

Other Pollinators

You might be surprised that other insects that you might view as pests also help the bees and butterflies pollinate. Wasps help pollinate, but they are not as prolific as bees, since they do not have the hairs on their bodies to help carry the pollen from flower to flower.

Ants also help pollinate, though it is rare. As an ant walks from flower to flower, it may bring pollen along with it. Thus, unlike insects that fly, they aren't able to reach a great number of flowers. Ants also produce myrmicacin, an antibiotic with most likely reduces the viability of the pollen grains that they do manage to carry from plant to plant.

Several species of flies also pollinate plants, but hover flies are the most prolific. The hover fly's larvae also feeds on other insects, so in addition to their share of pollinating, they also kill other pests that are detrimental to plants.

Several other insects help pollinate, including midges that pollinate cacao flowers – without them, you wouldn't have chocolate; mosquitoes, moths and beetles.

Prevent Cockroach Infestation

If you have a current infestation, you may need the services of a professional such as Clint Miller Exterminating to help you get rid of the cockroaches. Once they are gone, your actions will help keep these dirty critters out of your home. Keep food covered and put away, cover any access holes in your home, such as cracks in the foundation, and don't provide a water sources through water leaks.

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