I sat in on a introductory entomology lecture about cockroaches this week, so this seemed like a good topic. Above you see my least favorite insect and also my frequent friend and visitor for night time assays in the greenhouse this past summer, the American cockroach.
I like this picture because it shows off a lot of great cockroach adaptations: the flattened body for fitting through tight spaces, the head tucked defensively under the pronotum, with the eyes wrapped around the top of the head for good vision in this postion, the long delicate antennae for sense perception in the dark, and the cursorial legs for running at high speeds.
My feelings about cockroaches have evolved since I entered entomology, and while I still don’t welcome them in my house, I now consider them fairly interesting to observe in other places and I even keep a small colony of hissers. I think I crossed a hurdle while I was desperately collecting insects for my class collection during my own introductory grad student course. After months I had somehow managed not to encounter a single cockroach of any species, which left me down an entire order. When I finally saw one of these large ladies scurrying across a pavilion floor I jumped on it with my bare hands. (In terms of weird cockroach collecting methods this still does not top the dinner doggy bag incident.)