Washington, June 5 (ANI): Research suggests that cockroaches, just like humans, share their local knowledge of the best food sources and follow 'recommendations' from others. Assumed to forage for their own food till now, this work shows how groups of the insects seem to make a collective choice about the best food source.
Dr Mathieu Lihoreau from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, explained, "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."
The researchers found in an experiment, that the majority of the cockroaches fed solely on one piece of food until it was all gone, and not split into groups to attack one pile of food. 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.
"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 study could be used to improve pest control, making insecticide gels more effective or be used to create an insecticide-free trap.
"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.
This study is published in the Springer journal Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology. (ANI)