Humans are blocking cockroaches from getting laid

PHOTO: Cockroach: "Can I get you a sugary cocktail to convince you to mate with me?" (via Go Green Pest Control)

Well, way to go humans – your efforts to get rid of household pests have now cock-blocked cockroaches trying it hook up. It turns out, the sugar that is often placed in roach traps is too similar to the sugary gifts male cockroaches use to attract a mate. Decades of Pavlovian conditioning have now turned off females to their mating practices.

The German cockroach is the most common in the world. It is found in homes, scurrying around in the bathroom and kitchen when you flip on the light switch. Researchers found that some of these German cockroaches started to avoid traps laced with glucose, a form of sugar. They had wised up to the sugar trap and learned to avoid being baited by it.

But now their famously pervasive aversion to death has come with unintended side effects. Avoiding the sugar to stay alive has also meant avoiding the sugar that lures them in for some hot cockroach-on-cockroach sex.

Cockroaches – like the slimy guys at night clubs you might describe as “cockroaches” – have one special “move” they use, guaranteed to attract the ladies. They whip out a little special gland tucked under their wings and secrete an intoxicating cocktail including the sugar maltose, much like a creepy guy buying sugary drinks for a girl at the bar.

But unlike the guy at the bar, this move actually works on female cockroaches who excitedly jump on their backs to eat the sugary treat. Without much fanfare and pillow talk, the male can use that time to extend his bits and penetrate the female to procreate.

But after 30 years of sugar being used in traps and cockroaches slowly learning to avoid it, when the female’s saliva converts the maltose into glucose, it quickly sobers her up and turns her off. She gets off the man before the man gets off with her.

But the situation gets even worse! The evolutionary solution for cockroaches to this mating problem? Less foreplay.

It turns out, male cockroaches aren’t as dumb as they seem. When the sugary cocktail stopped working, they concocted a new secretion with twice as much sugar, this one made out of maltotriose. That form of sugar is even more popular with the ladies and buys the male a little bit of extra time to get some sweet lovin’.

But the men don’t waste any time and have evolved to be “two pump chumps,” or more specifically: 2.2 seconds of pumps before they finish their mating ritual. That’s twice as fast as the average cockroach sex before the sugar problem arose.

So the next time you’re trying to rid your house of some pesky cockroaches, think of the poor sexually unsatisfied female cockroaches and maybe don’t use sugar in your traps.


World News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.