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Cockroach size myth story variation.


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Sometimes I'll bring a few giganteus to a local display or show and the odd person now and then likes to tell me how they saw roaches in Florida that were bigger. Of course they saw American roaches which don't even reach 50mm on a good day, a far cry from giganteus size. A little twist to this story is a guy who tells me he and a group went to Costa Rica and saw what he thought were roaches but they were literally the size of his hand. I let him know they simply don't get that big. He even sent a picture his friend M. Rosenburg took on a tree (see attached image, credit Rosenburg). He said the tree was really big (though it doesn't look like it). Of course they likely weren't bigger than giganteus but from the tiny photo and location it's a safe bet it is Megaloblatta which on a good day could be half an inch bigger than giganteus.

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I hate it when people do that. I'll bring a hearty variety of huge roaches to a local show (B. colosseus, B. giganteus, G. oblongonata) and somebody will always tell me they saw a roach that was "this big!" and hold out their fingers to at least 5 inches. I used to smile and laugh but now I can't do that with a good conscious, so I set them straight and show them how big American roaches are. lol

That Megaloblatta looks like all wing too, whereas giganteus actually have some body to them...

If there is a gigantic roach out there, it's probably whatever this individual is:

3331149781_fefb809375.jpg

The person who took the photo measured it in at 10 centimeters, or roughly four inches. With that length and bulk, this thing had to be a monstrous sight!

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  • 2 years later...

I hate it when people do that. I'll bring a hearty variety of huge roaches to a local show (B. colosseus, B. giganteus, G. oblongonata) and somebody will always tell me they saw a roach that was "this big!" and hold out their fingers to at least 5 inches. I used to smile and laugh but now I can't do that with a good conscious, so I set them straight and show them how big American roaches are. lol

That Megaloblatta looks like all wing too, whereas giganteus actually have some body to them...

If there is a gigantic roach out there, it's probably whatever this individual is:

3331149781_fefb809375.jpg

The person who took the photo measured it in at 10 centimeters, or roughly four inches. With that length and bulk, this thing had to be a monstrous sight!

I almost looks like a click beetle even though its a roach. Is this in the hobby yet?

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  • 3 weeks later...

I had someone tell me the other day they worked for a bio facility and found an American cockroach. Then they said they blasted the roach wth radiation and it grew huge, almost 8 inches. I couldn't help but laugh and explain to them that it's impossible for that to happen. They stopped ranting about by simply saying it got away and they didn't see it again.

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I'm sure some of it is people over exaggerating on purpose. I'm sure other people swear they saw what they saw out of fear. (Go ahead and ask my mother how big that spider was she saw the other day. She's not lying on purpose!)

But I also believe that there are going to be individuals who are outliers in size where it's a mutation that's one in a billion, and some lucky unbelievable shmuck was the only one to spot it. (Or it's a non-native species that somehow ended up where it shouldn't be.) I've personally had it happen twice - the first was a standard cellar spider that had a 4 inch leg span - which I could measure since he was centered in the middle of a 4 inch tile and was touching the grout on all four sides. The second was a crane fly that was the width of the house siding - with it's legs folded! So if it was 5 inches folded up... (And both happened here in Ohio.) In these cases I had a solid reference where I could come back with a ruler to double check and make absolutely sure what I saw was real, rather than just spend the rest of my life thinking I was completely crazy. (Although not having an answer as to what or why is almost as bad!)

Bugs don't stay put - by the time you go to get a camera (for those of us who don't have phones) or grab a ruler or grab a container, it's too late. Without a reference to say - it was from here to here for sure - it's easy to over estimate or blow it way out of proportion, and it's hard even with a photo to go back and get that measurement after whatever you saw is long gone.

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...outliers in size where it's a mutation that's one in a billion, and some lucky unbelievable shmuck was the only one to spot it.

Chances of that happening are one in a billion which may be less likely than you and I both winning the lottery.

There are giant crane flies many times the size of the normal big crane flies but they are from a different species most often found near rivers. I have seen a couple in Ohio and they are impressive though maybe not as big as you estimate.

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I, too, hear my share of crazy insect or spider size stories.

Just to take a bit of blame off people... our brains are easily fooled. Something as simple as perspective related to surrounding objects and how far/close something is to you will drastically affect how large you think an object is. Thats what makes tricking people with optical illusions rather fun. Ponzo illusion is a neat one.

Couple faulty brains with a less than perfect recall (memories are easily mixed up) and either a lack of familiarity or even a bit of knowledge about something specific and you're bound to hear crazy stories.

I recently had my husband try to insist that the Texas horned lizard he had just taken a picture of was around 8 inches long when asked.... by a herpetologist (for those unfamilar with the lizards, they're less than 5" long including the tail).

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hybrid vigor can end up making over sized life, but not to the point these stories are about. 20-30% added size wouldn't take that much of a miracle to achieve though. They do it with crops and farm animals all the time. Its just a plant/animal with an abundance of heterosis, which can happen by chance without assistance or inbreeding. So when you see an abnormally large plant or animal, thats often the cause.

But yea, most of these stories you hear probably fall into one of the explanations already mentioned. Perception is a funny thing.

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The difference with plants, specifically crops, is that they're often the exact same species. With animals there often tends to be a lot of reproductive barriers between different species of the same genus.

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I am trying to start an american cockroach colony. I remember seeing them occasionally in my parents house as big or bigger than my Orange heads. The few I have found in this house are much smaller.I wonder if my mind was playing tricks on me.I remember reading stories about insects of the past reaching giant sizes. I wonder if you raised larger species in a low density big oxygen environment you could raise giants ?

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