American cockroach Periplaneta americana
                                        Madagascar hissing cockroach Gromphadorhina portentosa
                                                                
Madeira cockroach Leucophaea maderae                                             Death's head cockroach Blaberus craniifer

Availability: All species are available now. After you have a cage and supplies, contact Liz (eegraham@life.uiuc.edu) to schedule a pickup time (right after class is convenient). We will provide you with an adult, a transfer container, and some food.

Housing: On the positive side, all species can be reared with materials found around the house ... but, on the negative side, all three species can be reared with materials found around the house! Consider the possibility of escape - these roaches will survive in your abode! Cockroaches can be housed in a metal, plastic, or glass container. A two liter container can comfortably house a few roaches. Keep in mind that cockroaches can easily chew through paper, cloth or cardboard. Be sure to ventilate the container with a screen top or by poking numerous small holes in the top. Most cockroaches are negatively phototactic (avoid light) and thigmotactic (prefer to be in contact with a surface), so provide your roach with a surface to hide under. Cardboard or crumpled heavy paper capable of blocking direct light works. Keep your cockroach in a warm location, since our species are of tropical or subtropical origin.

Food & water: Cockroaches are omnivorous and will eat almost anything, including one another if food is in short supply. Don't let this happen! Readily available foods used in cockroach rearing include dry dog food (our colony's food), wheat germ, unsweetened cereal, fruit slices, or potatoes. Remove food from the cage if it decays or rots. Cockroaches also need a source of water, such as a fresh fruit slice or cockroach watering device (ask us).

Notes: Cockroaches develop slowly and live long active lives for an insect. Your cockroaches will probably outlive your project. Keep in mind that we will accept roaches at the end of the rearing period for future use as demonstration specimens.

Madagascar hissing cockroaches often have commensal mites on their bodies. (A commensal relationship is an interaction between one organism that benefits from the interaction and another organism that derives no benefits nor harm from the interaction). These small mites feed off food scraps and saliva from the roach and cause no harm to their host. These mites cannot survive off their hosts; in fact, they serve as an interesting example of commensalism in one of our biology courses.