I do have reluctant respect for the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana). Fossil records show that cockroaches (of which there are now thousands of species worldwide) have been around at least 300 million years. They’ve evolved into highly successful organisms. They are the fastest of all land insects and can run 50 times their body length in one second (no wonder it’s hard to catch them). These creatures also seem to be able to manufacture their own beta-carotene (for eye health and other functions); we don’t yet know of any other animals with this ability. Yes, they do spread disease, usually causing digestive illness. American cockroaches are not native to America. It is likely that they came to the American colonies from Africa. On slave ships? I wouldn’t be surprised.

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