National insect week

Today is the start of National Insect Week, organised by the Royal Entomological Society, the aim is to give people the opportunity to learn more about this fascinating, diverse and vitally important group of animals. So, over the next few days I will feature some of the insects we keep and some of the wild species that can be seen in the parks and gardens around Crawley.

These hissing cockroaches should be familiar to film fans, as this species regularly features in movies when ‘creepy crawlies’ are needed. In the wild they are found in Madagascar, where they inhabit the forest floor, feeding on fallen fruit and other plant material.

 Male hissing cockroaches have horn-like growths on their head which they use to fight other males.

Adult female and a young cockroach

The female carries an egg case (ootheca) inside her until it hatches and then she will give birth to the young, which can number up to 60.

Their famous hissing noise is made by forcing air out of the breathing holes (spiracles) on their abdomen. The sound is used in several ways, for example, when males fight, as an alarm call and during courtship.

Our cockroaches tuck into their breakfast

There are over 3,000 species of cockroach of which only a handful are considered to be pests.

Britain has only three native species, all of which are small and harmless, they are found on the grasslands, cliffs and woodlands of southern England.

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