Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Cockroaches Clean to Improve Smell

By Frontiergap @FrontierGap

US researchers have found that it is important for cockroaches to groom themselves in order to improve their sense of smell. The act of cleaning themselves rids the cockroaches’ antennae of any secretions that would interfere with their ability to sense smells, temperature and objects.

Cockroaches Clean to Improve Smell

Image Courtesy of Cyron

The US researchers published their findings in the journal – Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They also found that carpenter ants and houseflies displayed similar behavior.

Antennae are important to insects for working out what is around them; the antennae contain sensory structures known as sensilla which can sense humidity, texture, taste and smell.

The researchers discovered the importance of the grooming by studying antennae that were groomed and ungroomed and comparing the effects this had. They found that the ungroomed antennae accumulated around four times as much secretions. They also found that these secretions were a natural wax that helped control the water loss of the insects. Those that had ungroomed antenna also seemed to be less responsible to sex pheromones which the females produced.

Researchers found that a variety of species display similar behavior however they all had different methods of grooming. The American cockroaches used a foreleg to pull their antennae into their mouth whereas the carpenter ant and housefly relied more on just the foreleg.

Dr Boroczky and the team of researchers are now set on looking at whether this behavior extends to other insect species. 

Cockroaches Clean to Improve Smell


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