Living With Hissing Cockroaches

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Madagascar hissing cockroaches are frequently infested with the mite, Androlaelaps schaeferi. At one time, it was assumed that the mites were parasitic, feeding on the cockroaches. In 1995, Yoder and Barcelona* investigated mite feeding through the use of colorant dyes. They found that the mites would only ingest the dye when they fed on food for the cockroach. No evidence was found of mite feeding on the cockroaches. The mites are phoretic, they use the cockroaches as transportation to a food source. The mites have preferred locations on the cockroach body that maximize their hydration.

*J. A. Yoder, J. C. Barcelona Jr. Food and water resources used by the Madagascan hissing-cockroach mite, Gromphadorholaelaps schaeferi. Experimental & Applied Acarology May 1995, Volume 19, Issue 5, pp 259-273.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in by jjneal, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Living With Hissing Cockroaches

  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s interesting to see how an insect can use another insect as transportation. I never realized a mite would want to feast on the same type of food as a cockroach. I always heard it’s hard to kill a cockroach, so it makes sense as to why there were no signs these mites were harming them.

  2. Ted Snidanko says:

    I thought it was interesting that the mites did not attack the cockroach but rather used the cockroach as a bus to get to food. Smart of the mites to befriend the cockroach and use them to their advantage.

  3. Having my own Hissing Cockroach I was wondering what these little mites were that I always saw on my Cockroach. Learning that these mites were not feeding on the Cockroaches surprised me. I think it was very smart for such a small slow insect to use a larger insect to transport itself to food and water.

  4. Dee Wang says:

    It was interesting to know that the cockroaches are a form of transportation for the mites. I guess its a smart way to adapt and make use of this advantage.

  5. Madison Sowers says:

    Cockroaches are the mites own personal taxi…I love it! I also read somewhere that the mites can be good for the cockroaches. It said that the mites reduce the amount of mold and bacteria on the cockroaches. However, another website said that the mites may get into the spiracles of the cockroach and do harm to them.

  6. James says:

    I’m curious to know which locations maximize the mites hydration and if the mites benefit the cockroach in any way or if they are just using the cockroach.

  7. Jessie Kocsis says:

    I found it very interesting that the mites use the cockroaches to get to food. It is very clever of them. I have a Madagascar Cockroach and was there are mites in his cage and I was wondering if they would harm the cockroach at all, so this article gave me a lot of information and I now know that my cockroach isn’t being harmed but the mites.

  8. Latrice says:

    This article caught my attention because when I first brought home my hissing cockroach I noticed the mites living on its abdomen area and first I thought that they were babies. After learning this wasn’t the case I was curious to know if the mites would eat off of my cockroach and ultimately kill it, but now seeing that they just use it for transportation its actually pretty unique and a cunning idea on the mites behalf. Its also comforting to know they will not try to escape out of the cage my Madagascar cockroach is living in since they rely on it for transportation to food.

  9. Mariela Carrasco says:

    I’m glad to hear that the mites are not harming the cockroach. I noticed the mites when I first brought home my pet cockroach from class. I had been wondering why they lived on the cockroach. I now know that my pet will not be harmed and that it will not affect it. Since they live on the cockroach, I’m glad that they will not try to leave the cockroach and escape.

  10. liamsung says:

    I never thought that the mites use the cockroaches as food-shuttle and the mites look very smart.
    I know the basic concept of parasite and symbiotic relations. From this article, I am curious
    the relation between the cockroaches and mites; I guess it is more related to symbiotic process.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I have also noticed smaller insects crawling around on my Madascan cockroach at times within the container I have provided him, which is odd because I have no idea how they got in there. When I received the cockroach from Purdue it was in a closed container and then when I transported the cockroach into another container it was clean as well. The first few days I had it I was trying different combinations of food. One day I sliced up a few small bits of strawberry, put it in its container, and then left. I was keeping it in the garage where it was warm and humid, and I noticed the next day that the strawberry had already begun to mold and that now the cockroach had small insects crawling all over it. Im not sure if it was mites or not, but it seems like when I put fruit in the container, eventually the small insects return. Once I clean it they go away and the cockroach is fine.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I have my own hissing cockroach and when I first noticed the mites I was really freaked out. I thought they were making my bug sick and rushed him to the ENTM department. However, I am really glad to know that they are actually peacefully coexisting with the cockroach. It is really cool to know that mites are smart enough to use the cockroach as a means to travel to a food source. Even cooler to think that these bugs are using other bugs to survive. It shows how bugs have their own ecosystem they live with too.

  13. Anonymous says:

    It’s interesting to know how are insects are helping each other as a transportation. Especially, the cockroach, I would never knew the cockroaches are the form of transportation for the mites.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I’ve recently noticed these small mites on my temporary pet hissing cockroach. My first thought was that they might make their way to me, but further research into the matter said that they were harmless to humans which makes sense seeing how they are harmless to the cockroach as well.

  15. Trey Roob says:

    I was afraid that the mites would leave my cockroach and infest my dorm room (where my pet cockroach currently resides). I am glad to know this will not be an issue.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s