Cockroaches May Soon Be Unstoppable

July 11, 2019

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I remember hearing years ago that cockroaches would be the only thing to survive a nuclear explosion. That's only true if they weren't directly in the blast area. But apparently our attempts to irradicate these pesky critters has only made them more indestructible. Many insects, including cockroaches, have evolved with a resistance to at least one of the most commonly-used insecticides. And because cockroaches only live for about 100 days, that resistance evolves quickly, with genes from the most resistant cockroaches being passed on to the next generation.

In a study that was published last month in Scientific Reports, researchers treated three different cockroach colonies in multiple apartment buildings in Indiana and Illinois over the course of 6 months. The populations were tested for their level of resistance to three different insecticides. Regardless of which treatments were used, the size of most of the cockroach populations did not decrease over time. This was true even when the researchers used multiple insecticides at once, a standard practice among exterminators; suggesting that cockroaches are quickly evolving resistance to all of the chemicals being used to try to wipe them out.