Environmental classes procure cockroaches for study of biomes

Environmental classes procure cockroaches for study of biomes

Photo Credit: Ben Solomon

by Ben Solomon, Senior Staff Writer

Environmental teacher Heather McDermott has introduced her classes to Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, a new addition to the department’s growing animal population.

McDermott hopes to use the cockroaches to aid her teaching of biomes and how the animals interact with their surroundings.

The use of living things is not a new concept for the department. McDermott has continued her organic Tilapia project this year, and the Environmental classes raise trout, which will be released on the annual Water Day. McDermott has also built a coop for chickens that she plans to raise.

As for the cockroaches, they may seem an odd choice for a class pet, but their size makes them preferable.

“They are bigger and easier to see, better to study,” McDermott said. 

McDermott had done this experiment before and wanted to do it again after the first set of roaches died. The average lifespan for the insect is about 8-9 years.

Along with their size, the cockroaches also have another feature which makes them interesting to study: they can emit a particular hissing sound.

“On their underbelly they have something called sphericals,” McDermott explained. These sphericals make a hissing sound when the insect is feeling threatened or is attacking something.

“The sound of the noise should scare off predators,” McDermott said. 

Carolina Supply Company, from which the cockroaches were ordered, sells three coackroaches for $20. Although the department only bought three, they’ll likely have many more soon. The cockroaches are different genders and reproduction should occur. 

“They reproduce often,” said McDermott. “Last time I had them, I started with three and I ended up with 30.”

When the population increases, the bugs will be moved to a larger habitat.