In one of those studies that leaves me scratching my head “why,” scientists have discovered that man’s eternal enemy, the cockroach, has personalities as individual as yours and mine.
Their unique personalities may be responsible for cockroaches’ legendary resilience. It seems as though they can reason and make complex decisions. Some are even shy, which might be surprising to anyone who has lived in an urban environment.
Scientists studied the behavior of Periplaneta americana, or the American cockroach, when exposed to light. The tests were carried out over a period of three months, with 16 cockroaches for each trial released in a round arena beneath a bright light. In the middle of that arena were two round “shelters” that provided shade for the dark-loving insects. After being released, the insects were left alone for three hours during which their locations were recorded by a camera and a small chip placed on each roach’s back. These chips transmitted their location to a nearby computer where researchers could monitor whether or not they were venturing out into the open light or hiding under a shelter. The experiment was then repeated twice more at later dates.
The researchers found that cockroaches didn’t seem to follow only instinct. While they all ultimately ended up under the shelters, they acted as individuals instead of as a hive like many other insects.
Unlike humans, though, the cockroaches were eventually able to reach a consensus, even though they came to it from their individual perspectives.
Here’s the video:
So, the next time you want to compare Congress to cockroaches, don’t. That’s completely unfair. Cockroaches are far more reasonable.
Image via Reuters video screenshot.