Cockroaches Becoming 'Superbugs' with Immunity to Pesticides

Roaches are becoming nearly impossible to kill, growing immunity to sprays and chemicals.

Cockroaches Becoming 'Superbugs' with Immunity to Pesticides
German Adult Cockroach John Obermeyer / Purdue University

It used to be that when armed with bug spray you would inevitably annihilate those pesky cockroaches with a few presses of the button. Nowadays, these superbugs are becoming harder and harder to kill, according to a new research. 

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The research, published in Live Science has even discovered that cockroaches, and more specifically the German cockroach, are increasing in numbers and are now being born immune to these toxins.

The German cockroach, aka Superbug

The Blatella germanica, more commonly known as the German cockroach, is a species of roach that uniquely live where humans live. Where humans are, these little guys can also definitely be found. 

The study, at Purdue University in the US, observed the roaches over six months in various buildings in Illinois, Indiana, as well as Purdue's labs - all of which were infested with cockroaches. 

The researchers used a variety of different chemicals and sprays on the insects, breaking them down into three groups: one that used three different kinds of sprays, another just two sprays, and the last one solely used one spray. 

Cockroaches Becoming 'Superbugs' with Immunity to Pesticides
Cockroaches. Source: Mysticartdesign/ Pixabay

Interestingly, the researchers discovered that when only one spray was used it was more efficient in killing the cockroaches. 

When using multiple sprays, seemingly the roaches grew a cross-immunity, and in fact, increased in numbers. Yikes!

The team studied generations of the cockroaches, let's just say they multiply fast with females able to lay up for 400 eggs in her lifetime and found out that within just one generation the roaches developed these immunities. 

The insects have become almost impossible to get rid of.

Survival of the fittest takes on a whole new meaning here.

"We didn't have a clue that something like that could happen this fast," said study co-author Michael Scharf of Purdue University in Indiana. The researchers seem as surprised as we are.  

Scharf continued "Cockroaches developing resistance to multiple classes of insecticides at once will make controlling these pests almost impossible with chemicals alone." 

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A bleary future prospect for any with a cockroach phobia. 

So how will we rid ourselves of these bugs?

More complex strategies will have to come into place. A combination of different approaches used at once may be the trick: traps, improved sanitation, and perhaps even vacuums.

These roaches are fast learners though, so we'll have to always keep one step ahead of them as we move forward. If they weren't so offputting, their rate of survival could be deemed as impressive.

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