Friday, October 22, 2010

Madagascan Hissing Roaches

EW! That’s usually the first reaction people have when they see my tank full of Madagascan hissing roaches. These brown beetles have been launched to stardom in movies and television lately. I wouldn’t recommend eating them, but some people have. The world record is 36 bugs eaten in one minute. To that I say, “EW!”

They’re actually great bugs! They don’t bite, sting, or fly. It’s fun to let them crawl around your hand. Be careful when picking them up, especially if they’re on your clothing, as you could damage the hooks on their feet.

Another great thing about them is they hiss! They do this by exhaling through their breathing tubes called spiracles. The males hiss when they fight. Both male and female mature roaches hiss when they’re frightened. My roaches don’t hiss a lot because they’re handled frequently.

My favorite thing about these bugs is their young are born live! They hatch from eggs inside the female’s body and then crawl out. They are so cute. At first they are white but then they darken to a dark brown. They look like watermelon seeds with legs. They stay with their mom for a while and then crawl away in search of food and water.

I like having Madagascan hissing roaches in my classroom. They’re a great learning tool for our science unit: Life Cycles and Food Chains. My students like taking care of them, too.

Do you know any movies or TV shows with Madagasan hissing roaches in them?  Leave a comment below.