Mrs. Phillips fourth grade class at Waynedale Elementary received a unique surprise. It was delivered to them on Friday, February 20th. “It’s our class pet!” said the teacher. But, it wasn’t your typical pet, not a bird, not a snake or rabbit.
The initial reaction from the students when they saw what was in the pet carrier was “EWWWW!” This special delivery was what Addy, Emily and Cazzlynn described as “ugly, freaky and scary.”
As they warmed up to their new class pets, everyone felt the excitement and wonder.
Making a hissing debut, not one, but half a dozen or so, 3-inch long Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches were handed off for the students to inspect.
Rose Pest Control donated the Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches as part of an educational program to teach children about science, and in particular, the field of entomology-study of insects.
“It won’t hurt you, honey,” said Rose Pest Control representative Jeff Zolnick. “They don’t bite or sting. They are really great pets.” He went on to tell them how to care for their new pets, “Feed them only fruits, like bananas, apples and pears. Do not give them any citrus, like oranges. They will die.”
“Can I set it down on the desk?” asked one of the students.
“No,” said Mr. Zolnik. “They are too fast, it will take off on you. And it won’t survive if it gets away.”
The Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches (gromphadorhina portentosa) are native to Africa-the southeast coast island. These insects live in a tropical climate on the forest floor, typically under rotten logs. They are decomposers and play an important part in our ecosystem. The MHC is one of the rare ovoviviparous species of roaches, producing eggs that hatch within the female’s body. The babies are called nymphs and are born albino-colored. Like cats and dogs with fleas, these cockroaches carry mites but they do not hurt or live on humans. The mites actually keep the cockroaches clean from bacteria and disease. The average life span of a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach is 3 years.
Within minutes one of the fourth-graders had one named. “Crocky,” she said, “is this ones name because it feels like a crocodile.” “It’s scary, but I can learn about insects this way. How they live and what they eat.”
These cockroaches are harmless. They don’t bite or fight. They do hiss however and this is their way of communicating.
“Everyone, be real quiet and listen,” said Mr. Zolnik. “These insects hiss and that is their way of showing us how big they are. In fact, that is how they prove their dominance; the bigger the hiss, the more powerful. And the one with the last hiss wins! He’s Captain of the team so to speak.”
The Waynedale News hopes to hear back from Mrs. Phillips’ class. Perhaps the students can do a study and write an article about their findings on their new class pets’…metamorphosis, eating habits, do they like light/are they nocturnal, which cockroach is the captain of the team, and/or, did they train their pets to run?