Madagascar cockroach — one of the many spectacular animal species native to the island of Madagascar. This insect looks and sounds different than anything else. It is a fascinating insect due to its unusual ability to produce sound. However, its unusual appearance and thoughtful behavior also contribute to its appeal.
Species origin and description
Madagascar cockroaches — they are endemic species found only on the island of Madagascar. Among the closest relatives of hissing cockroaches in Madagascar — mantids, grasshoppers, stick insects and termites.
Fun fact: Madagascar cockroaches are known as “living fossils” because these insects are very similar to prehistoric cockroaches that lived on Earth long before the dinosaurs.
Madagascar cockroaches are docile, easy to care for and often kept as pets. They require a small room with a place where they can hide because they prefer to stay out of the light. Due to their tendency to climb, the living space should be checked to see if they can get out of the fence.
Video: Madagascar cockroach
Aquariums or terrariums found in pet stores work well, but it's wise to coat the top few inches of the glass with petroleum jelly to prevent them from moving out of their habitat. They can live on fresh vegetables along with any kind of high protein pellets such as dry dog food. Water can be provided by keeping a damp sponge in the natural environment.
Fun fact: In some places, people eat hissing cockroaches because they are rich in protein and readily available. Eating insects is called entomophagy.
Appearance and Features
The Madagascar cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa), also known as the hissing cockroach, reaches a height of up to 7.5 cm in adulthood. These cockroaches are one of the largest cockroach species. They are brown, wingless and have long antennae. Males have large bulges in their thorax and antennae that are wetter than females.
Unlike most other cockroaches, they do not have wings. They are excellent climbers and can climb smooth glass. Males are distinguished from females by thicker, hairy antennae and pronounced “horns” in the pronotum. Females carry a box with eggs inside and release young larvae only after the eggs hatch.
Like some other forest-dwelling cockroaches, parents and offspring usually remain in physical contact for long periods of time. In captivity, these insects can live up to 5 years. They feed mainly on plant material.
While many insects use sound, the hissing Madagascar cockroach has a unique way of creating hissing sounds. In this insect, sound is created by forced expulsion of air through a pair of modified ventral spiracles.
Spiracles — these are the respiratory pores that are part of the respiratory system of insects. Since the respiratory tract is involved in respiration, this method of sound production is typical of the respiratory sound produced by vertebrates. In contrast, most other insects produce sound by rubbing their body parts (like crickets) or by vibrating a membrane (like cicadas).
Where does the Madagascar cockroach live?
These are large pests thrive in warm climates and become lethargic in cold temperatures. Little is known about its ecology, but this insect probably lives on forest floor in rotten logs and feeds on fallen fruit.
Madagascar hissing cockroaches live in damp places, including:
- places under rotten logs;
- forest habitats;
- tropical areas.
Madagascar cockroaches are native to the island of Madagascar. Since they are not native to the country, these pests rarely cause cockroach infestations in the home.
To keep these cockroaches in the home, the following rules should be observed:
- The aquarium or other container should be large enough to allow the cockroaches to have room to move. Clear plastic or glass is best so you can more readily observe their behavior;
- a tank cap is needed to keep them from escaping. Although they are wingless, they are quite mobile and can climb up the sides of the container;
- mouse bedding or wood shavings will line the bottom of the cage. Bedding should be changed periodically, especially if there is a high level of humidity;
- a wood block or log is needed to allow them to crawl. Cockroaches tend to be aggressive if there is any object in the cage;
- there should be a tube filled with water and covered with cotton. The cockroaches will drink water from the cotton and push it back into the tube to keep it moist;
- the water needs to be changed every week.
Photo: Female Madagascar cockroach
In their natural environment, Madagascan hissing cockroaches are useful as consumers of carrion and rot.
Hissing cockroaches — omnivores that feed mainly:
- animal carcasses;
- fallen fruit;
- rotting plants;
- small insects.
Fun fact: Like 99% of all cockroach species, Madagascar cockroaches are not pests and do not inhabit human dwellings.
These insects live on forest floors, where they hide among fallen leaves, logs, and other detritus. At night, they become more active and clean up food, feeding mainly on fruit or plant materials.
At home, Madagascar cockroaches should be fed a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits, as well as green leaves (with the exception of iceberg lettuce) in combination with food in high protein granules, such as dry dog food.
Carrots seem to be a favorite, along with oranges, apples, bananas, tomatoes, celery, pumpkin, peas, pea pods and other colorful vegetables. Remove leftover food after a while to avoid spoilage. The water should be served in a shallow dish with cotton or other absorbent material to keep your cockroaches from drowning.
Madagascar cockroaches are hardy, like most cockroaches, and have few health problems. The only important thing is to stay hydrated. If your pet cockroach looks shriveled or wrinkled, it's probably not getting enough water.
Now you know how to feed the Madagascar cockroach. Let's see how he survives in the wild.
Character and lifestyle features
Males use horns in aggressive encounters reminiscent of battles between horned or horned mammals. Competitors hit each other with their horns (or abdominal cavity) and often emit amazing hisses during combat.
Madagascar cockroaches make the hissing sound they are famous for.
Four types of hissing have been identified with different social goals and amplitude patterns:
- male fighter hiss;
- courtship hiss;
- mating hiss;
- anxiety hiss (loud hissing, frightening predators).
A cockroach hisses, pushing air through a pair of modified spiracles, which are small openings through which air enters the insect's respiratory system. The spiracles are located on the sides of the chest and abdomen. They are considered to be one of the only insects that use their spiracles to make sound. Most other insects produce sound by rubbing their body parts together or by vibrating their diaphragms.
Male cockroaches of Madagascar hiss more as they establish territories and defend themselves against other males. Their territories are small. A male can sit on a stone for months and protect it from other males, leaving it only to find food and water.
Aggressive hissing and posturing are used to warn other males and predators – the larger male who hisses more often wins. The dominant male will stand on his “toes”, which are called stilts. Styling — it's a male's way of «bragging». Males use humps on their pronotum as a defense mechanism. The pronotum is a lamellar structure that covers most of their thorax. Fighting between males does not cause injury.
Females are more sociable and do not fight each other or males. Because of this, they are less prone to hissing, although on rare occasions the entire colony may begin to hiss in unison. The reason for this behavior is not yet understood. Females carry the egg inside and release young larvae only after the eggs hatch. As with some other wood-dwelling cockroaches, parents and offspring usually remain in close physical contact for long periods of time.
Social Structure and Reproduction
Madagascar cockroach even begins his life in an unusual way. The life cycle of the hissing Madagascar cockroach is long and different from most other cockroaches. Females are oviparous, the female carries eggs and rears newborn larvae inside her body for approximately 60 days until they become first-order larvae.
One female can produce up to 30-60 larvae. This insect has an incomplete life cycle: egg, larva and maturation stage. The larvae undergo 6 molts before reaching maturity after 7 months. Larvae and adult wingless can live from 2 to 5 years.
There are striking differences between the sexes. Males have large horns behind their heads, while females have — small “bumps”. The presence of front horns makes it easy to recognize the sex. Males have hairy antennae, while females are smoother. The behavior of males and females also differs: only males are aggressive.
Madagascar cockroaches molt (shed their outer skin) six times before they reach maturity. This is the period when the cockroach is most vulnerable. He may not eat all day before shedding as he prepares his body for this process. When it reaches 7 months, it stops shedding and reaches maturity.
Natural enemies of Madagascar cockroaches
Madagascar cockroaches probably have many types of predators, but there are few documented relationships between them. Arachnids, ants, tenrecs and some ground birds are likely predators of these cockroaches. As mentioned earlier, the — it is a hiss of alarm that produces a loud snake-like noise that can startle potential enemies.
The mite Androlaelaps schaeferi, formerly named Gromphadorholaelaps schaeferi, is a typical parasite of the Madagascar cockroach. These mites form small clusters of four to six individuals at the base of their cockroach host's leg. While this mite was originally thought to be a bleeding (blood-sucking) mite, recent research has shown that the mite is simply “sharing” the cockroach's food.
But, since these mites do not harm the cockroaches they live on, they are more of a commensal rather than a parasite unless they reach abnormal levels and begin to starve their host. Recent studies have shown that these mites may also be beneficial to cockroaches, as they clean the surfaces of cockroaches from pathogenic mold spores, which in turn increases the life expectancy of cockroaches.
Insects themselves do not represent any known danger to humans. Males are extremely aggressive and usually fight rival males. Male cockroaches create and defend territories using a unique sound. They are very territorial and use their horns in combat. Females only hiss when disturbed.
Population and species status
The Madagascar cockroach plays a role in utilizing a large amount of decaying plant and animal matter in the rainforests of Madagascar. This species is part of the nutrient cycling process in Malagasy forests. These forests are important sources of timber, water quality and other natural products.
Madagascar cockroaches are listed as Least Concerned by the IUCN, the world's leading conservation organization. This species is well known in Madagascar and has adapted quite well to habitat changes. However, deforestation is considered the most significant long-term threat to this and other forested species in Madagascar.
Because the Madagascar cockroach is found only in Madagascar, little effort has been made to conserve the species. This is due to political unrest. Since the Malagasy people were forced out by the French colonizers in the 1960s, the country has gone from dictatorship to democracy. Field biologists find it difficult to explore the area due to the sparse network of passable roads. In recent years, thanks to “liberation” and international assistance, it has become easier for biologists to study Madagascar with a focus on the hissing cockroach. Madagascar cockroaches crowd in the forest. These pockets of natural forest are dying as a result of degradation and fragmentation, and because of this, Madagascar has become a top priority for conservation biologists.
Madagascar cockroach — a large wingless cockroach from Madagascar, an island off the coast of Africa. This is an interesting insect because of its appearance, behavior and way of communication. The Madagascar cockroach is easy to maintain and raise, making it an ideal organism to keep at home as a pet.