BEHAVIOURAL ECOLOGY OF COCKROACHES

Authors


  • *Dedicated to Dr Louis M. Roth, a pioneer in every aspect of cockroach biology.

Summary

1. Cockroaches are ubiquitous in most habitats where insects occur. Although most reports on cockroaches are physiological in nature, sufficient information is available to indicate that forest, desert, and cave-dwelling cockroaches select microhabitats on the basis of finely resolved environmental preferences. This is particularly true for oviparous females which select specific substrates for oviposition and embryogenesis. Selection and diel movements between microhabitats are related to diel changes in micrometeorological profiles and predation, feeding, and enhancement of sexual communication.

2. With some exceptions oviparous species live in wooded habitats; ovoviviparous species tend to occur in protected environments such as caves and logs. Oviparous species are exposed to greater predation, parasitism, and environmental pressures during embryogenesis than are ovoviviparous species, where internal incubation and some parental care reduce these risks. Most ovoviviparous species produce larger clutches, but the interval between broods is significantly longer than in oviparous species. Long gestation, clumping of food resources, and relatively little movement probably selected for male control of resources as a mate-attraction tactic in ovoviviparous species; agonistic interactions, and in some cases morphological specializations for fighting, and highly ritualized behaviours are common. In most oviparous species, volatile pheromone communication and resource-based aggregations are common. Rapid ovarian cycles and patchily distributed nutritional resources result in the need for greater mobility, and hence adults encounter greater risks.

Ancillary