Cockroaches are survivors. It is one of the reasons that many people believe they will survive a nuclear apocalypse (this is a myth, but it did survive some powerful radiation blasts). But just because they may not survive nuclear war doesn’t mean that they’re not amazing at adaptation – and, recently, that appears to be happening again in a way that could affect pest control in the future.
One thing to understand about cockroaches, particularly German cockroaches, is that they basically rapidly involved to live in human environments. This ability to rapidly adapt to changes continues to help it thrive even today.
Some Cockroaches No Longer Like Sugar
When cockroaches choose who to mate with, the females essentially request what we will refer to as a “gift of sugar goo” from inside the males. If the sugar goo is tasty enough, the females will allow the males to meet with them. Female cockroaches love that sugar goo, and the sweeter it is the better.
So, to eliminate cockroaches, pest control scientists basically created a pesticide that tasted like sugar goo. Cockroaches would eat it, finding it delicious, and then die not long after. It’s the basis of most pest control baits, and has been a critical tool for severe invasions, working since the 1980s to eliminate roaches.
Which is why it is pretty concerning to see that, recently, some cockroaches taste buds have changed. Instead of finding the sugar sweet and desirable, it now tastes bitter and gross. They are no longer willing to take the bait.
In theory, this would also prevent males from attracting and mating with their female partners, who would no longer be impressed by their goo gift. But unfortunately, cockroaches have adapted there as well. The males managed to alter the taste of their secretions to fit the desires of the females – a taste that scientists have yet to mimic in order to create more pest control baits.
Should You Panic?
If you dislike cockroaches as much as we do, this sounds problematic. But the good news is that it shouldn’t affect you – yet. Not only are these cockroaches not yet endemic to the Sacramento region, but the formulas are being altered to fit their taste buds. In addition, most of the time, you won’t need baits at all. You can typically stop a German roach invasion early by using ongoing pest control around your property. If roaches cannot enter, no baits are needed.
Nevertheless, it is still another example of the many creative ways that pests, like cockroaches, continue to find new ways to survive.