Madagascar Hissing Cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa) - Wiki
Madagascar hissing cockroach
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[Photo] Madagascar Hissing Cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa) male at Bristol Zoo, Bristol, England. Taken by Adrian Pingstone in August 2003.
The Madagascar hissing cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa), also known as Hissing roach or simply Hisser, is one of the largest species of cockroach, reaching 4-5 inches at maturity. They are originally from the island of Madagascar off the African coast, where they can be found in rotting logs. Unlike most cockroaches, they are wingless (though this is also true of some other wood-dwelling roaches). They are excellent climbers and can easily scale smooth glass. Males can be readily distinguished from females by their thicker, hairier antennae and the pronounced "horns" on the pronotum. Females carry the ootheca (egg case) internally, and release the young nymphs only after the eggs have hatched. As in some other wood roaches, the parents and offspring will commonly remain in close physical contact for extended periods of time. In captivity, these insect can live 5 years, and feed primarily on various types of vegetable material.
The Madagascar cockroach has become a popular pet because of its hissing sound, large size and interesting appearance. Their nickname, "hissing cockroach", is due to their ability to force air through the breathing pores (spiracles) found on their abdomen. The Madagascar hissing cockroach is believed to be the only insect that can hiss in this exact manner, as most insects that make a "hissing" sound do so by rubbing together various body parts. (Some longhorned beetles, e.g., the Giant Fijian long-horned beetle, can squeeze air out from under their elytra, but this does not involve the spiracles). This hiss is used in two contexts: the disturbance hiss and the fighting hiss. All cockroaches from the fourth instar (fourth molting cycle) and older are capable of the disturbance hiss. Only males use the fighting hiss when challenged by other males. This results in one of the males eventually backing down and the fight being over.
The mite species Gromphadorholaelaps schaeferi lives on this species of roach, and takes part in its host's food.
It has become a popular insect in Hollywood movies, featured prominently in Bug (1975) (as 'roaches who could set fires by rubbing their legs together), and in Damnation Alley (1977) (as post-nuclear-war mutant armor-plated "killer" cockroaches). Madagascar hissing cockroaches encrusted with Swarovski crystals have been used as necklaces and broaches, costing about $850 each. They have also had the privilege of being the driver of a cockroach-controlled mobile robot. It was also a popular bug to use in the reality television series Fear Factor. Moreover, on America's Next Top Model Cycle 6 the models did a fashion show for designer Vivienne Westwood where they were told they needed some accesories, crazy accesories at that--jeweled Madagascar hissing cockroaches. While some girls freaked out, like contestant Gina Choe, her rival Jade Cole got so into it that she kissed her roach when she posed at the end of the runway.
As a delicacy
In September 2006, amusement park Six Flags Great America announced it would be granting unlimited line-jumping privileges for all rides to anyone who could eat a live Madagascar hissing cockroach as part of a Halloween-themed FrightFest. Furthermore, if a contestant managed to beat the previous world record (eating 36 cockroaches in 1 minute), s/he would receive season passes for four people during the 2007 season. The promotion began on October 7, 2006, and ended on October 29, 2006.
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