Cockroaches are a stubborn pest to tackle, due to their abilities to adapt to very inhospitable conditions. This is a fact that has been well-known to the public for a while now. What is new, however, is that recently a study was published, which explained that cockroaches have personalities and can even demonstrate various characteristic traits, e.g. shyness or leadership (Reuters, 2015).
A study in the Université Libre de Bruxelles on the behaviour of cockroaches showed that the pest can display different behavioural characteristics, which is an explanation to their survival and adaptational capabilities. Put in a round arena with bright light and two round ‘shelters’ in the middle, 16 cockroaches are observed for 3 hours by the researchers. Each cockroach has a location chip on its back, so that their location can be recorded accurately at any one time.
The observations showed that some cockroaches ran quickly to the ‘shelters’. They were classified as ‘conscious’. Others decided to explore the area and were classified as ‘braver’
The lead researcher of the project, Issac Planas, a PhD student from the ULB, noticed that each cockroach was responsible for its own decision making, unlike other pests like termites and ants, who act according to a social hierarchy. Hence, the results of the study could be applied to animals having similar behaviour. According to the researcher, this type of behaviour could be compared to the one in donkeys, fish, birds, certain monkey species, and even people.
Interesting fact that was noticed during the experiment was that regardless of the combination of behavioural types in the group, all cockroaches ended up under the ‘shelters’. This is considered significantly amazing, since the group may consist of many different characters but they all end up having consensus in the end.
The presence of so many different behaviour types in the groups is considered to be a potential reason for the adaptability of the pest to many different environments.