Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

How Cockroaches Keep Their Predators 'Guessing'

Date:
November 19, 2008
Source:
Cell Press
Summary:
When cockroaches flee their predators, they choose, seemingly at random, amongst one of a handful of preferred escape routes, according to a new report.

Researchers have found that when cockroaches flee their predators, they choose, seemingly at random, amongst one of a handful of preferred escape routes.
Credit: iStockphoto/Marcus Jones

When cockroaches flee their predators, they choose, seemingly at random, amongst one of a handful of preferred escape routes, according to a report published on November 13th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication.

"By using one of a number of possible trajectories, we think that cockroaches may behave with sufficient unpredictability to avoid the possibility that predators will learn their escape strategy," said Paolo Domenici of CNR-IAMC in Italy. "As we say in our report, the predator is made to guess."

Cockroaches have been studied for many years as a model for understanding animal escape responses, he said. While much is known about the neural circuitry underlying their behavior, it still seemed to Domenici's team that open questions remained regarding their strategy.

While the insects don't run away in random directions, they nonetheless didn't seem to flee in an easily predictable manner either. In the new study, the researchers searched for some pattern by repeatedly testing cockroaches as they escaped from threats.

What they found is that cockroaches select one of a number of preferred trajectories. Their choice is not completely random because the angle at which the bugs are stimulated to run seems to limit the options. However, when they are startled from certain directions—head on, for example—cockroaches flee along four primary escape routes at fixed angles from the threat.

The researchers aren't yet sure exactly how the cockroaches manage this at the neural level, but they suspect they aren't the only animals that do so. The findings also raise questions about the evolutionary forces that drive such unpredictable anti-predator behavior.

More broadly, the results show that "unpredictable" behavioral patterns in nature can actually be quite structured, Domenici said. Animals that may seem to be carrying out a single behavior pattern with wide variation could instead be choosing between multiple strategies.

As for those of us who might occasionally want to kill a roach or two ourselves, Domenici says the insects most often choose an escape path directed at a 90 to 180 degree angle from the attack. "This is where squashing could be aimed," he said, "although we like cockroaches and would recommend no squashing."

The researchers include Paolo Domenici, Istituto per l'Ambiente Marino Costiero, Istituto di Metodologie Chimiche Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche Localita Sa Mardini, Torregrande Oristano, Italy; David Booth, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK; Jonathan M. Blagburn, University of Puerto Rico, San Juan, PR; and Jonathan P. Bacon, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cell Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cell Press. "How Cockroaches Keep Their Predators 'Guessing'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081113140312.htm>.
Cell Press. (2008, November 19). How Cockroaches Keep Their Predators 'Guessing'. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081113140312.htm
Cell Press. "How Cockroaches Keep Their Predators 'Guessing'." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081113140312.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Monkeys Are Better At Math Than We Thought, Study Shows

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2014) A Harvard University study suggests monkeys can use symbols to perform basic math calculations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins