News - August 30, 2012

'Cockroaches survive a nuclear disaster? A myth.'

Who? Dennis Oonincx, cockroach expert and PhD researcher at Entomology.
What? Has been in the news, including on TV, Radio 1 and
Why? He commented on the cockroaches that suddenly descended on the village of Etten-Leur.

Did you rush to the scene?
'No, I haven't been to Etten-Leur. For my interviews I looked at photos on the internet but it was not at all clear whether they had really been taken there. A camera crew gave me other pictures of the creatures. Later they did indeed turn out to be two different species: the Argentinian cockroach and the hissing cockroach.'
Isn't that odd?
'Yes. I conclude from it that someone was playing was a practical joke and wanted to take someone for a ride. Because there is no logical explanation for a reptile keeper dumping these creatures, as the media have been suggesting. The Argentinian cockroach is bred in captivity and sold per kilo as reptile feed, but the hissing cockroach is sold individually. They would never be dumped just because someone has too many of them.'
Which myths have you had to dispel this week?
'That if you stamp on a cockroach it will breed. Rubbish of course. Cockroaches are considered dirty and dangerous, whereas in fact they clean up a lot of dirt in the natural world. The most persistent myth is that cockroaches could survive a nuclear disaster. That story was once put about but no research has ever been done on it.'