Caribbean Giant Cockroach

Wayne and Gladys Valley Children's Zoo

Location

In the Zoo

Scientific Information

Scientific Name: Blaberus giganteus
Class: Insecta
Order: Blattodea
Family: Blattidae
Genus: Blaberus

Size

Male

Female

Height:
Length: 3 inches 4 inches
Weight:
Maturity: 8 months 8 months

Lifestyle and Lifespan

Diet: Decomposer
Activity Timeframe: Nocturnal
Interactivity: Social
Sexual Dimorphism: Yes
Gestation: 60 days
Lifespan in the Wild: 2 years
Lifespan in Captivity: 2 years

Geographic Range

Tropical areas of Panama, West Indies and northern South America

Conservation

Status in the Wild:
Threats:

Characteristics

Brown with black markings on its body. The adult has two pair of wings, which fold back, flat over the abdomen. It is the largest cockroach in its genus and is one of the largest cockroaches known. Females can grow up to 4 inches long, males 3 inches. The only way to visually differentiate between the sexes is to look on their abdomen where the cerci are located. Between the cerci of the males, a pair of short antennae called styli is present. Females lack styli. These tiny styli can be hard to see.

Species Specifics

There are 4,000 species of cockroaches worldwide, with 70 identified in the United States. Fortunately, most are quite rare or stay away from human habitation. Only three species are most commonly found around humans in the United States.

Physical Characteristics

As a survival tactic, it mimics the color pattern of noxious beetles. It can produce a foul smell to avoid being eaten which discourages most predators. They can also fly a little, but they navigate poorly. They have appendages on the end of their abdomen called cerci, which allow them to sense small air movements so they can detect and flee from potential danger. Their flat bodies allow them to squeeze into small places to escape predators.Their best defense is either to hide or run, like other roaches.

Ecology

Habitat

Dark, damp places like caves, hollowed out trees, rock crevices, and spaces under loose tree bark.

Distribution

Populations tend to be greatest where bats are also present.

Diet

Bat guano, rotting wood, decomposing fruit, seeds, and animal carcasses.

Ecological Web

Caribbean Giant Cockroaches are decomposers, so they play a very important role in their ecosystem. They break down rotting debris, and turn it back into healthy soil. They also serve as a food source for many animals in their habitat.

Activity and Behavior

Activity Pattern

These cockroaches are inactive during the daytime, but come out to eat at night.

Behavior

Nymphs spend most of their time buried beneath the soil. This behavior helps to protect them if predators, like army ants, attack the cockroach colony.

Social Behavior

These cockroaches live in large groups, so competition for space can sometimes get fierce. The more dominant males tend to be found on higher perching sites. Females are usually present on the ground level and release pheromones when ready to mate. The males perched higher are able to detect these rising pheromones and have a good vantage point for locating the female.

Reproductive Behavior

When a female is ready to mate, she will emit a strong pheromone to alert nearby males. Males fight for access to the female, and the winner performs an elaborate mating ritual, shaking his abdomen and raising his wings at a right angle. If the female is enticed, the pair then join abdomen. They may stay in this position for several hours.When mating is complete, the female is pregnant for life. Eggs are retained within the female in a compartmentalized case, or ootheca, until ready to hatch.

Offspring

Females have up to 20 offspring per clutch. Juveniles are called nymphs. Nymphs spend most of their time buried in the soil, eating guano and other decomposing materials. Once they reach the adult stage, they grow wings and spend most of their time above the soil.

Conservation

Status

Not Evaluated

Historical

Current Threats

Our Role

Exhibit and Educate

How You Can Help

Fascinating Facts

Juveniles, or nymphs, of this species look similar to trilobites. They do not gain their tan pattern or wings until they reach adulthood.

References

"Brazilian giant cockroach." Toronto Zoo . Toronto Zoo, n.d. Web. 31 July 2017. .

Piquett, P. G. and J. H. Fales. 1953. Life history of Blaberus giganteus (L.). Journal of Economic Entomology 46(6):1089-1090.

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