“I am a survivor. I am like a cockroach, you just can’t get rid of me.” – Madonna, famous singer and actress.
The quote by Madonna is absolutely true. Cockroaches are, by far, one of the hardiest insects on this planet. There is nothing quite like the cockroach and its mysterious ability to survive the toughest of living conditions. Even in the film, Wall-E, a Pixar animation, a featured cockroach had survived and outlived all of humanity at the ‘end of the world’, having also survived getting squashed twice in the movie. This fictional depiction of a roach’s survival even in a deteriorated world, is pretty close to the truth.
It has been said that if a nuclear war broke out, cockroaches would be one of the creatures that would survive. Their resistance towards radiation is connected to their cell cycle. Because of their cell divides only once a week, which is how often they molt, at the most, a large majority of them would not be affected by a sudden nuclear outburst. The Mythbusters performed an experiment to bust the myth that cockroaches would be the only living things to survive a nuclear blast. The myth was proven to be false, as they found the flower beetles to have a far higher resistance towards extremely hazardous radiation, compared to the cockroaches, which didn’t survive the maximum level of radiation they exposed them to. So even though cockroaches would outlive humans in a nuclear blast, they would eventually die from large amounts of it and lingering exposure to radiation.
Unlike humans, cockroaches can live without their head for a least a week and if their heart stops, it won’t snuff them out! A headless cockroach will only die from thirst, because they eat and think using the other organs in their body. These heartless creatures don’t actually have a ‘heart’ like we do, but rather one that consists of simple tubes and valves, pumping their blood back and forth. The roach’s respiratory system also allows them to outlive humans when it comes breathing air. They have been found to survive 45 minutes without air and after being ‘drowned’ in water for 30 minutes by the Mythbusters, they all recovered, alive and kicking!
As energetic as these scuttling roaches may be, these insects are only active for about four hours in a day, as they spend 18-20 hours resting, almost as many hours as a koala bear sleeps for each day. One can probably imagine why a female cockroach would need so much rest, as she mates only once in her life and stays pregnant for the rest of it!
It’s not so easy to eliminate these hardy roaches, even with life-threatening chemicals, as they have these white starchy substance that consists of nutrients that help neutralize and lessen the effect of any chemical substances that may threaten to kill them!