Why Do Louisiana Cockroaches ‘Pop’ When You Squash Them?
In Louisiana cooking, we have what's known as the "Holy Trinity". That's onions, peppers, and celery for the uninitiated. In Louisiana homes and businesses we have what could be known as the "Unholy Trinity". For me, that would be termites, mosquitoes, and cockroaches. All of which gives me the heebie jeebies.
It's pretty obvious that of the three pests I've listed the one you don't want to encounter in a dark kitchen while you're eating a sandwich over the sink at midnight is the cockroach. Here in Louisiana, our cockroaches come in two sizes. Big and bigger and you'd swear they can sense your fear when you notice them. The real big ones are tree roaches or wood roaches.
Cockroaches in Louisiana, in addition to being more disturbing than something you'd see in a back alley on a Friday night in the French Quarter also come with their share of myths and urban legends. And based on what we have learned, most of these myths and legends are simply not true. So, let's resolve those and clarify just what that "popping noise" is that you hear when you step on a cockroach.
Is It True That Stepping on a Cockroach Releases its Eggs?
The short answer to that one is no. The long answer is "Thank GOD that's not true". There appears to be no scientific evidence that this is the case when you crush a cockroach. As a rule, cockroaches don't "carry their eggs" like a spider might. The mother cockroach affixes her eggs to a hard surface in a dark and damp environment, your kitchen or bathroom cabinets for example. That's where they will stay until they hatch.
A Crushed Cockroach will Emit a Pheromone That Attracts Other Roaches
This one is kind of true but mostly false. It's true a crushed cockroach will emit a pheromone that other cockroaches can detect. However, the pheromone is not an invitation for other roaches to come, it's more of a warning to other roaches that there is danger afoot or danger because of feet. So, smash 'em and trash 'em if you can.
Why Do Cockroaches Make a Distinctive "Pop" When You Step On Them?
Back when Mother Nature was handing out defense mechanisms for her creatures she gave the cockroach an airbag, like the one on your car. No, that's not true. But the popping sound does sound similar to an air bubble being popped but it's not air that's doing the popping. The unmistakable sound of a crushed cockroach comes from the cracking of its hard exoskeleton. Cockroaches are durable and it's because of that hard shell.
Which is why you can't be gentile when stomping on them. Now, you don't want to slam your foot down so hard you break a toe but you do want to apply enough pressure to crack the exoskeleton. That "popping sound" lets you know you've done mortal damage to the cockroach and while it's really gross, it's kind of satisfying, if you ask me.
What If I Don't Hear the Popping Sound When I Step on a Cockroach?
Well, you may have just been fooled by a creature much further down the food chain than you are. Cockroaches are notorious for "playing possum" when they are threatened. They can look very dead and be very much alive. So, if you just give them a tap with a shoe or don't put enough force into your "smash" that roach could be none the worse for wear long after you leave.
What's That White Stuff I See When I Crush a Cockroach?
That my friends is blood. Cockroach blood is white and a lot of people are convinced it's milk. Hence, the scattering of eggs concern we addressed earlier in this article. The insect's blood is white due to a lack of hemoglobin, that's what makes your blood and mine appear to be red when we see it. And no, cockroaches don't give milk.
Alright, now you're up to speed on everything you could possibly know about cockroaches with the exception of how to get rid of them. Naturally, we suggest you call a professional to handle the job. They know where to find the roaches where they live and they know how to exterminate the eggs before they can hatch. And as crafty as the cockroach can be, you're going to want someone who knows what they are doing to handle the job.
And just remember, no matter how nice the house or how clean it's kept, there's always going to be roaches if you're in Louisiana. Termites and mosquitoes are included at no extra charge.
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