A recent study by scientists at Queen Mary, University of London has found that cockroaches are social beings who “talk” to one another about food and prefer to dine in groups. When presented with two identical slices of bread, the roaches repeatedly gathered around the same slice, rather than splitting up.
In an earlier study, researchers used computer simulations to show that, even with their tiny brains, insects have enough neural circuits to possess consciousness, and they may even be able to count. According to professor Lars Chittka, one of the researchers, “Animals with bigger brains are not necessarily more intelligent.”
If you’re not ready to roll out the welcome mat, though, here are a few simple steps to help you keep unwanted bugs at bay:
- Don’t provide roaches with food. Wash dishes promptly, store food in tightly sealed containers, and keep trash in bins with tight-fitting lids.
- Remove roaches’ hiding places. Keep compost heaps as far from your house as possible, always wash out food containers before storing them for recycling, and don’t let old newspapers pile up.
- Prevent roaches from entering your home by sealing up holes and cracks. Baby roaches can squeeze into a space as thin as a dime.
- If you do see roaches, scatter whole bay leaves or catnip throughout your house. Iowa State University scientists found that catnip is 100 times more effective than DEET at repelling roaches.
Check out PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk’s book Making Kind Choices for more tips on dealing kindly with insects and for other ideas on animal-friendly living.