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Detested Cockroaches Are Crucial to Life on Earth June 29, 2012
“Extinction of cockroaches would have a big impact on forest health and therefore indirectly on all the species that live there.” — Srini Kambhampati.
Humans have tried to stomp them out, spray them into oblivion and have even theorized that a nuclear holocaust couldn’t eradicate cockroaches from the planet.

But it turns out that the most despised insect of all is essential to the survival of our planet’s delicate ecosystem.

Most cockroaches feed on decaying organic matter, which traps a lot of nitrogen.

According to Srini Kambhampati, professor and chair of the biology department at the University of Texas at Tyler, the planet’s 5,000 to 10,000 cockroach species convert decaying organic matter into a lot of nitrogen, which plants need as fertilizer.

Beyond providing this key element to the natural world, cockroaches are also an important food source for many birds and small ground animals.

Loss of the lowly roach would have a cascading effect up the entire food chain, according to Kambhampati.

Photo: File