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Pest introduction as cleanup crew


vfox
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I was watching a show about sustainable farming and they were talking about greenhouses to treat waste and make plant ready water. Anyway I was thinking, cockroaches are considered a greenhouse pest, but wouldn't they do more good than bad?

I look at it this way, the most common would be Periplaneta of some sort, if they are in your greenhouse it means you are doing two things right. One, keeping the humidity high enough to promote plant and animal health. The second is that decomposing plant matter has enough heat, moisture, and micro organisms to happen properly. So you have cockroaches, why is that good? They are there because you create ideal condition with rotting organic matter for them to eat. They will mainly eat decaying plants and leave your fresh products alone. They serve the same purpose in nature, they destroy rotting plant matter and produce bio-rich frass that acts as a fertilizer for the plants you grow.

I plan on building a greenhouse in the next year or two. I live in the boonies and nothin but woods roaches will venture in so I am going to plant the seed as it were. I plan to introduce what is called the biggest greenhouse roach pest down south, the Australian roach. I think they will serve well as cleanup crews for decomposing plant matter.

What say all of you?

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One thing for sure, if they're growing plants for human consumption, having regular house pest roaches clawing around wouldn't make a very good PR image, and I would imagine it would be hard to control their number, and in turn, what they eat when they run out of decaying materials.

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One thing for sure, if they're growing plants for human consumption, having regular house pest roaches clawing around wouldn't make a very good PR image, and I would imagine it would be hard to control their number, and in turn, what they eat when they run out of decaying materials.

I'm not worried about the PR aspects of it. Because I raise them I know they come from a sanitary environment. Controlling their numbers would be easy with occasional pitfall traps being set up. As for what they eat...well I plan on having a evolving ecosystem in there so new plant growth would occur year 'round, which means others would die and become food for their numbers. I would grow minimal food for my family there, mainly tomatoes, squash, melons, and whatnot. Most of it will be used to create compost and "green" soil.

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One more thing though, not sure if you have any neighbour, but if you do, containment would be a challenge, and any failure, you would have a handful of very angry neighbours.

That is a good point but I'm inclined to think they would likely not survive well outside of the greenhouse. We (normally) have hot dry summers with cold snow laiden winters. They could survive spring-autumn I'm sure but winter would kill off any that chose to exit the greenhouse. I currently have one neighbor and their house is several hundred feet from mine with the greenhouse being built on the opposite end of the 2 acre property. I'm sure they could cross this distance easily, but I doubt that they'd be very inclined to do so. My house would be the first to see them and that would put a halt to the experiment most likely. My wife doesn't mind them as long as they stay in tanks lol.

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So although logistically it's possible...do you guys think it would be worthwhile trying? Do you think they would help decomposition and whatnot or just basically be annoying and in the way? I intend to use them like spastic over active Isopods. :)

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If I were you, I wouldn't use Periplaneta. Even though they won't infest your house, if you give them ideal conditions and space, they will multiply exponentially. However, don't let this discourage you from trying other species!

I would recommend Pycnoscelus surinamensis, which is already commonly found in greenhouses. Or perhaps you should try another, larger Blaberid like Blaberus discoidalis.

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I'm not sure yet as I haven't planned it out totally. Likely though I'm going to try and maintain very high humidity levels so I can raise more tropical plant species. I want to research a bit first and find out if any tropical plants available in the US have any medicinal qualities. I'm a bit of a hippie when it comes to that stuff.

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It sounds like an interesting idea, thats for sure. I've never heard of anything like this, but with all of the things you mentioned, I don't see much that could go wrong.

Choosing the perfect species would be difficult, though.

Good luck.

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It might just be me...but large isopods like Porcellio laevis or P. dilatus seem to be a better choice than a species of roach, even if not already found in your area (but *I* would frown upon such a practice, your choice). You would end up with next to no plant damage too.

Adding a species of roach, just by their nature, would ensure escapees into the surrounding environment... The niche you are trying to fill is also typically/more easily filled by isopods in nature, with roaches contributing to a lesser extent.

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