Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cockroaches share 'recommendations' of best food sources, research finds

Date:
June 7, 2010
Source:
Queen Mary, University of London
Summary:
Ever wondered how cockroaches seem to know the best place to grab a meal? New research suggests that, just like humans, they share their local knowledge of the best food sources and follow 'recommendations' from others.

Ever wondered how cockroaches seem to know the best place to grab a meal? New research at Queen Mary, University of London suggests that, just like humans, they share their local knowledge of the best food sources and follow 'recommendations' from others.
Credit: Image courtesy of Queen Mary, University of London

Ever wondered how cockroaches seem to know the best place to grab a meal? New research at Queen Mary, University of London suggests that, just like humans, they share their local knowledge of the best food sources and follow 'recommendations' from others.

It is often striking how little we know about our closest neighbour. Until now, it was assumed that cockroaches forage on their own to find food and water. However, this work shows how groups of the insects seem to make a collective choice about the best food source, explaining why we so commonly find them feeding en masse in the kitchen late at night.

Dr Mathieu Lihoreau from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, explained the potential impact of his research, saying: "Cockroaches cost the UK economy millions of pounds in wasted food and perishable products. Better understanding of how they seek out our food would allow us to develop better pest control measures, which are frequently ineffective and involve the use of insecticides that can have health side-effects."

This study, published in the Springer journal Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology, is the first demonstration that groups of cockroaches can forage for food collectively, rather than independently, relying on their individual experience.

In the experiment, hungry cockroaches (Blattella germanica) were released into an arena where they could choose between one of two piles of food. Lihoreau noted that, rather than choosing one randomly and splitting into two groups as would be expected if they were acting independently, the majority of the cockroaches fed solely on one piece of food until it was all gone. By following individual insects, it also emerged that the more of cockroaches there were on one piece of food, the longer each one would stay to feed. Through simple snowball effect then, most of the cockroaches accumulate on one source.

Once identified, a man-made 'foraging pheromone' could be used to improve pest control, making insecticide gels more effective or be used to create an insecticide-free trap. Lihoreau explains; "These observations coupled with simulations of a mathematical model indicate that cockroaches communicate through close contact when they are already on the food source. This is in contrast with the honeybees' waggle dance or ants' chemical trails, which are sophisticated messages that guide followers over a long distance. Although we think they signal to other cockroaches using a 'foraging pheromone', we haven't yet identified it; potential candidates include chemicals in cockroach saliva, and cuticular hydrocarbons, which cover the insects' bodies."

This work doesn't only provide the first evidence that these insects search for food collectively, but it also gives a simple explanation for it that could potentially apply to a wide array of animals, including humans. "We should definitively pay more attention to cockroaches and other simple 'societies' as they provide researchers with a good models for co-operation and emergent properties of social life, that we could extrapolate to more sophisticated societies, like ours," says Lihoreau.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen Mary, University of London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Mathieu Lihoreau, Jean-Louis Deneubourg, Colette Rivault. Collective foraging decision in a gregarious insect. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 2010; DOI: 10.1007/s00265-010-0971-7

Cite This Page:

Queen Mary, University of London. "Cockroaches share 'recommendations' of best food sources, research finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 June 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100605131808.htm>.
Queen Mary, University of London. (2010, June 7). Cockroaches share 'recommendations' of best food sources, research finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100605131808.htm
Queen Mary, University of London. "Cockroaches share 'recommendations' of best food sources, research finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100605131808.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
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