Wanted Alive: Cockroaches

The Museum of Natural Science has put out a plea to the public ... the next time you spot a cockroach don't spray it, don't crush it with a shoe ... catch it alive and healthy. For your efforts, you get 25 cents per roach. The offer is good for the first 1,000 roaches brought to the museum. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports the roach collection is for a good cause, to help you learn more about the not so pretty insects that support the eco-system.

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Standing here in the Cockrell Butterfly Museum, hundreds of orange, blue and red butterflies flitter around the waterfall and lush greenery. What you won't see, but are an important part of the ecosystem, are cockroaches. And the museum is in need of cockroaches and hoping you will help.

"They are going to be used as kind of, not necessarily a hands-display, but they'll be used to kind of scare the public away, believe it or not, more or less a gross-ology type exhibit."

Eddie Holik is director of the Cockrell Butterfly Museum.

"Roaches are one of those things that typically people are afraid of even though they don't really have much reason to be afraid of them, believe it or not. They don't carry the diseases people think they carry and actually roaches are one of the cleanest things out there."

Holik says roaches clean up the dropped grains of sugar and bread crumbs. And in the natural environment in general they decompose trash. The new educational displays being put up will explain what role these unattractive insects play.

"With all insects in general we should think twice before we throw a shoe at them or step on them or whatever we do to try to kill them. And also, I think, we use pesticides instead of thinking twice before we use them and we spray things that we probably shouldn't even be spraying."

So if you've changed your mind about cockroaches, Holik has some advice on how to collect the critters.

"You can take a glass jar, a gallon jar works very well and you can sleeve around it with an old pair of panty hose, put a piece of bread or a little bit of beer inside and they will actually climb up the outside of the container, you have to put the panty hose there because it gives them something to get traction on and then they go inside the container and they can't get back out."

So far the museum has collected about 330 cockroaches, on their way to 1,000. Once you have your collection, drop by the museum Saturdays from 12 to 3 and Tuesdays from 4 to 7 and ask for the entomologist. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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