What is the role of cockroach in the ecosystem
As much as it makes you cringe just by hearing the word “cockroach” let’s just agree with the fact that even roaches play a role in the ecosystem. Just like us cockroaches also play a vital role in the entire well being of the planet. Extermination of roaches is a worldwide phenomenon, but have you ever stopped to think what would happen to the ecosystem if we get rid of them? Will it make a difference? So instead of focusing on the common negative approach to these living beings, let’s educate ourselves about the entire reason for their existence.
Cockroaches are mostly considered pests. We are usually trying to get rid of them from our home. With a seemingly brown-colored body, oval-like shape, two antennas and tiny hairs around its limbs, the very image of it makes the creature quite loathsome.
Harmful effects of cockroaches
Agreed there are several harmful effects of the omnipresence of this species. Cockroaches are often bacteria carriers. Cockroaches are also responsible for spreading disease-causing germs on human food sources or on available kitchen equipment. In fact, cockroaches are the primary sources of airborne allergenic proteins which when inhaled by human beings causes a multitude of respiratory and lung-related illnesses. Children often suffer asthma or similar breathing problems due to excessive cockroach exposure at homes. Sanitation and cleanliness are important measures to be taken when dealing with a cockroach infestation.
However, most people fail to realize that cockroaches do, in fact, have a very significant role in the food chain persisting in our ecological environment.
Cockroaches are known to be present in a variety of habitats such as tropical regions, forests, and even deserts. Depending on their habitat, cockroaches can be widely classified into several types and are considered a common insect in almost every climate. Diet, physiology, morphology, seasonal variations and climatic changes are the factors that can be attributed to a particular species of cockroach residing in a specific region.
Being highly adaptable insects, cockroaches can adjust to almost any environment. Their affinity towards moisture and dark and crummy spaces makes them the ideal household pests. They are known to consume almost anything even rotten food and they can even survive without food for weeks. Similar to other insects, cockroaches have a waxy substance on their exoskeleton which prevents them from losing moisture even in the most dehydrated conditions.
Roaches are an important part of the food chain
Even though cockroaches are considered an under-performing insect, it contributes a major part of our food chain. Cockroaches are a crucial source of food for several species of birds, rats, arthropods, and other insectivorous mammals. Lizards, especially, desert lizards feed on cockroaches, other natural predators include toads, frogs, beetles, geckos, and iguanas. Although they are not the only source of food for these animals, cockroaches are considered their most common prey.
One day, if at all, a global extermination of cockroaches is undertaken, the prevalence of rats and mice would significantly drop.
Now you must be thinking, if the number of rats and mice to go down on this planet, how would that impact our environment? Well, the absence of rats and mice would consequently affect the species which prey on them, namely, cats (both domestic and wild), coyotes, foxes, hyenas, wolves, reptiles, carnivorous birds such as eagles and vultures and uncountable other species. This, in turn, would not only cause a deficiency of food for said animals but will also largely impact the ecological balance of our environment.
Play a major role in nutrient cycles
Cockroaches regulate the level of nitrogen recycling in the forest. The majority of the cockroaches are feeders of forest debris. They consume decaying plant material and transpose nitrogen into the soil of the forest which will then further be used for plant growth. Residues of organic waste high on nitrogen are a fest for roaches. So if cockroaches were to disappear, there would be an imbalance in the levels of nitrogen in this planet.
We can agree that cockroaches are required to maintain a balanced ecosystem. Without their existence, it would be difficult to fill the gaps in our food chain.
Even though they are not welcomed in our homes they are needed to maintain a clean forest. That being said we can conclude that roaches are needed in order to keep the natural balance of the environment.