Roaches lose their taste for sweets to stay alive - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Roaches lose their taste for sweets to stay alive

Posted: Updated:
Van Johnson Van Johnson
John Speed John Speed
KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

New research has revealed that a type of cockroach common to Hawaii has adapted to avoid poisons that contain glucose -- a type of sugar that's supposed to attract them.

The roach is the German cockroach, the small ones that are seen in the kitchen at night. Lots of local homeowners see them from time to time, no matter what they do to keep them away.

"We'd spray in the kitchen, in the drawers, around the doorways, around the windows," said Kailua resident Van Johnson. "It didn't seem to help too much."

A lot of roach bait has contained glucose, which is attractive to just about anything. But in a study published in the journal "Science", researchers at North Carolina State University discovered that the German cockroach rearranged its internal chemistry so that glucose would taste bitter to them.

"We may look at getting away from sweet-based baits. Or having new products come on the market that have a different taste to them," said John Speed, president of Kilauea Pest Control.

According to Speed, the German cockroach can reproduce rapidly, resulting in major infestations. He also said the pest is capable of eating almost anything. 

"It's just like humans. We all like different things. And some roaches grow accustomed to a certain type of food, probably in different people's houses," he said.

But it apparently has learned that sweet stuff is mixed with poison, and so now, the German cockroach avoids it. 

According to Speed, the pest control industry will likely have to come up with different bait formulas. But there are things that homeowners can do to keep roaches from adapting. 

"Throughout the year, you have to change up what you're using, and so they don't become accustomed to, or become resistant to that one brand of pesticide," said Speed.

And the best thing: keep it clean. "Sanitation wise, how am I doing? Am I leaving the dishes in the sink? Is the moisture content high? Am I leaving food out? That sort of thing. Cleanliness is going to help out a lot."

Copyright 2013 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.