It's Alive

Look beyond pest species to find beauty in cockroaches

Exotic roaches include an amazing diversity of colors and lifestyles

7:30am, June 12, 2014
Perisphaerus cockroach

CHARMING COCKROACHES  Give roaches a chance. A Perisphaerus species is among the underappreciated beauties.

Yes, the shiny purple-green creature above and the sky-blue one below are cockroaches. But they do not at all want to live in your house.

Among the world’s more than 4,600 or so roach species, “people have tended to concentrate on just the boring pest species,” says George Beccaloni, curator of cockroaches and their relatives at the Natural History Museum in London. That’s only about 30 annoying species, roughly the same proportion of pests as found among  the 5,500 or so known mammal species. Yet people don’t squeal, “Mammals, ewww.”

A few bad roaches spoil the image of the whole Blattodea order. Most people, Beccaloni laments, “don’t know anything about the other very attractive and interesting cockroaches that are out there.”

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