Many Cockroaches No Longer Have a Sweet Tooth

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A recent study on cockroach behavior, published in the journal Science, revealed that some German cockroaches possess a mutation causing them to have an aversion to sugar.

These findings explain why sugar-based baits mysteriously stopped working as a means of pest control. Dr. Jim Fredericks, chief entomologist and director of technical services for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), told the New York Times that this problem “first appeared in the early ’90s… shortly after exterminators started using poison baits instead of spraying as the main method of battling roaches.” To get around the problem, Fredericks said the industry developed new baits, but the change in roach behavior remained a puzzle.

Now, scientists and pest professional know why these baits were ineffective. It turns out cockroaches with this genetic mutation sense sweet bait as bitter, which enables them to not only avoid the poison, but also survive and multiply.