Amazing Kids! Magazine

The World’s Most Disgusting Bug!

By Enzo Monfre, Sci-Tech Kids! Natural Science Columnist

I just got two Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches for my show, and boy are they weird and creepy

The Madagascar hissing cockroach is an insect, also known as the hissing roach and is one of the laragest species of cockroaches. They can get up to 2-3 inches long!

They are from the country of Madagascar, an island off the east African coast. They live in rotting logs and leaf litter. They primarily feed on vegetable material or sometimes rotting animal carcasses (nature’s recyclers).

They don’t have wings like your usual, nasty roaches – like the kind in your pantry. (Gross!) However, they are great climbers, because of the large spines on their legs.

The Madagascar Hissing Cockroach has become a popular pet because of its hissing sound, large size, and appearance. In captivity, these insects can live 5 years.

They have the nickname, “hissing cockroach” because they force air through small holes (called spiracles) found on their abdomen, making a hissing sound. The males hiss more often than the females, usually when two males are competing for a female.

The males also have thicker, hairier antennae and larger “horns” on their heads.

Natural Defense Mechanisms

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches have a few ways to defend themselves:

  1. Indestructible exoskeleton. An exoskeleton is a hard armor plating that surrounds the exterior of their body and protects it from predators. As the cockroach grows, it sheds its old exoskeleton, and underneath is a new soft exoskeleton. It hardens not long after shedding.
  2. Hissing. If the cockroach is startled by a predator, like a lemur or bird, the hissing confuses the predator. They may think it’s a snake, giving the roach enough time to escape.
  3. Spiny legs. They use spines on their legs as hooks that get caught and poke the predator’s skin.
  4. Quick get-away. They are also fast runners and can quickly scurry away.

Why do I think Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are so disgusting? Do you know what the baby cockroaches eat? Their mom’s poop!

Come on, you have to admit, that’s gross!