Nine Days?

“A cockroach can live for nine days without its head.”


I was sitting on the pot reading the Wildlife magazine from the Houston Zoo and this quote caught my eye.

I wondered what the heck were those cockroaches doing for those 9 days without a head?

I had always assumed that they spent most of their time looking for food. But if they don’t have a head, then how are they going to eat? So, do they still spend all their time looking for food? Is that really what they did before they lost their heads?

I wonder it they don’t have a head, how do they find their way around? I mean, they have eyes and antennas on their head for that, but once the heads gone then what do they do? Do they just lie there like they’re dead (but they’re not dead) for 9 days?

Or do they wander around trying to find out what happened to their head? Do they miss it? I guess they must not miss it all that much if they can go without it for 9 days.

I wonder is this some kind of survival trait? They don’t go around looking for food while they’re headless, they go around looking for sex? How would that work?

I mean really, they’ve been around FOREVER.

Maybe having a head isn’t as important as we’ve been led to believe?

I wonder just how many headless cockroaches are running around? I have to admit I’ve seen a lot of cockroaches in my life and have yet to see a headless one, dead or alive.

I wonder, did they do some kind of study on this? Did they just happen to find a headless cockroach running around and say, “Hey, I think we need to investigate this, how long can a headless cockroach survive?”.

Did they just find a bunch of headless roaches to study? Or did they actually pull the heads off enough roaches to make a valid study? Just how many headless cockroaches does it take to prove the statistic that they can survive for 9 days? Is just one enough?

How many died immediately? How many only lasted 1 day? 2 days? etc?

They didn’t mention how long a cockroach could live with a head. I have to assume it’s quite a bit longer than 9 days.

Oh well, just a few thoughts to start the day. 😉


PS- I got curious enough later to actually google it and yes, it’s true. They explain a lot of my questions in this article.



Chinese cockroach farmers are making a bundle selling pulverized bugs for $89 per lb.

Chinese cockroach farmers are making a bundle selling pulverized bugs for $89 per lb. – Quartz.

OK, I have to admit, I REALLY don’t like cockroaches. Especially these big ones. Or the ones we get down South near the water where I live. We call ’em Palmetto bugs. I’ll never forget the night I was just falling asleep. It was a hot muggy night (so no covers) and one of those huge suckers flew across the room and started crawling up my leg. I must have woken up half the block with my screams!

So, the idea of people actually FARMING these things just gives me the creeps. Maybe its just me? The Chinese people seem to think there’s some real good medicine in these things. I just remembered this exhibit I saw at the Chinatown Heritage Center in Singapore last year.

Sign at the Chinatown Heritage Center, Singapore

Sign at the Chinatown Heritage Center, Singapore

I guess if you grind it up and add enough other stuff to it, you might not even notice it going down? I do try and taste different foods when I’m off traveling, but so far, the only bugs I’ve managed to try were some ants -chocolate covered- that helps 😉 – and some kind of grub they had at the ‘tasting kitchen’ at the New Orleans Insectarium ( Those tasted almost exactly like that Honey Nut Crunch cereal. They did have other flavors, but I was OK with just trying that one 🙂

Tasting room at the Insectarium in New Orleans

Tasting room at the Insectarium in New Orleans

Trying out some of the taste 'treats' at the New Orleans Insectarium

Trying out some of the taste ‘treats’ at the New Orleans Insectarium

I do see plenty of people in Thailand and Indonesia snacking on grasshoppers, water beetles, grubs, etc at the bars I go to. I always figured they must just be drunk. I never managed to work up the nerve to try any of those larger samples. Maybe next time…

Learn how to prepare your pests for tasty treats!

Learn how to prepare your pests for tasty treats!

Or maybe not. I did read something recently where the scientists were recommending that we should ALL start eating insects. It would go a long way towards helping to feed all the starving people around the planet. Yeah, they are a great source of protein. Yeah, they cost a lot less to produce, they don’t cause as much damage as cattle, they’re easy to raise… yada, yada, yada. Personally, I would prefer people start using birth control before we’re all reduced to eating bugs for breakfast 😉