Patterico's Pontifications

9/29/2007

News You can Use: Cockroaches aren’t Morning People Insects

Filed under: Nature — DRJ @ 12:20 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Scientists have learned that cockroaches are smarter in the evening than in the morning.

From Vanderbilt University comes this cockroach news:

It’s not just people who find it hard to get going in the morning. Cockroaches don’t like mornings either, according to U.S. researchers. A study by biologists at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, found dramatic variations in a cockroach’s learning ability throughout the day. In the morning, the insects couldn’t learn a new task, but in the evening, something kicked in.

“This is the first example of an insect whose ability to learn is controlled by its biological clock,” Terry L. Page, professor of biological sciences, said on Friday.

“This study was a surprise from the beginning to the end –the fact that cockroaches could be trained, even though you would not generally say they are a high IQ creature, and the impact that their body clocks had on their ability to learn.”

I still remember cockroaches from my college dorm days. Even then, I knew cockroaches were no dummies. Who hasn’t turned on the light and seen cockroaches scamper away? A cockroach doesn’t sit there with some dumb look on its face, he runs. Now even scientists know cockroaches aren’t dumb bunnies.

Just how did scientists figure this out?

“During the two-year study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers taught cockroaches to associate peppermint — a scent that the critters normally dislike — with sugar water so that they favored it over one of their favorite smells, vanilla.

The researchers trained several hundred cockroaches at different times throughout a day and tested them to see how long they remembered the association. The cockroaches trained during the evening and at night, when they tend to be more active, remembered what they had learned for several days. But the bugs trained in the morning were incapable of learning something new and remembering it.

I’ve read articles that say the same thing about teenagers, which is why some schools and colleges are scheduling later classes. (Come to think of it, how do we know these weren’t teenage cockroaches?)

Here’s the news you can use: Cockroaches don’t like peppermint – unless you train them to like it and if you want to do that, train them in the evening. But if you decide you don’t want trained cockroaches, it’s probably better to hunt them in the morning.

— DRJ

10 Responses to “News You can Use: Cockroaches aren’t Morning People Insects”

  1. One of the observations I made in a recent trip to Western Australia is their cockroaches are big, but stupid.

    I wonder if there’s been any testing of the relative intelligence of cockroaches in different nations… or would that be politically incorrect?

    If the stereotypes are true, China would come out on top. lol… not saying they’re true. But their flying Asian carp seem to be dong okay.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  2. *doing

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  3. Amazing, Christoph. I recently read an article about a man who drowned after being knocked out of his boat by a jumping fish. It’s easy to see how that happened after seeing the videos you linked.

    DRJ (ec59b5)

  4. Amazing, Christoph. I recently read an article about a man who drowned after being knocked out of his boat by a jumping fish. It’s easy to see how that happened after seeing the videos you linked.

    Corrected. Thanks. You’re great too.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  5. Just visualizing the little coffee mugs in their little…hands? “I don’t do mornings.”

    Itsme (92753f)

  6. I guess that these researchers have already discovered cures for cancer and AIDS and have nothing else to spend that research money on?

    nk (7d4710)

  7. NK,

    Maybe this was their morning research project.

    DRJ (ec59b5)

  8. Are you kidding, nk? With this knowledge we now know that we should have roach motels set their checkin times earlier so as to lure the roaches in when they are less alert and more easily captured.

    By the way, here is a helpful Doc Rampage house-keeping tip: if you prefer to use chemical weapons on cockroaches rather than podiatric weapons then forget the bug spray; cockroaches laugh at that stuff. Instead, use Formula-409, the cleaning solution. If you get a direct hit, it will kill them more quickly than bug spray and when you wipe it up, it cleans and disinfects and leaves a clean chemical-fresh scent.

    Oven cleaner is also effective but can damage household surfaces.

    Doc Rampage (ebfd7a)

  9. And let them have them have their way and the wackos from PETA will want cockroaches to have rights the same way they want rats to

    krazy kagu (272de2)

  10. Cockroaches are smarter in the evening…

    Is this the reason Congress does so much of it’s work after sun-down?

    Another Drew (8018ee)


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