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Cockroaches showing learnt behavior


Keith
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I just realized my small colony of pet roaches exhibits learnt behavior.

Each night before bed I change the food in my roach tank, and usually (unless enough moisture present) gently mist the cage with water.

I noticed after a few days, baby or newly added roaches learn when it's time to eat.

After misting instead of hiding from the chaos of an open lid and being sprayed, en mass the roaches emerge at once and within minutes travel to search for food.

One day I put new food in, but didnt mist the cage. Only a few roaches ate, the rest stayed hidden and didnt bother to eat at all, going against natural instinct to eat.

My conclusion they associate spraying water to eating and without it are confused and don't come out to eat.

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Mine always come out when I spray, but it is because they like to drink the water droplets. They did seem to get used to daily feedings when I used to do that.

When I gave daily or every other day feedings to Eurycotis floridana they would come out with antennae waving and investigate even stepping right up and nibbling on my fingers sometimes. I had to mess with them quite a bit,(tapping or even grabbing a roach) to get the defensive odor attack.

Now, I only feed them veggies and fruits once a week and pond sticks every few days. They hide alot and sometimes excrete their defensive odor. They don't walk up to my fingers anymore. :( I hope I can soon find the time for a more frequent feeding schedule.

Edit: I would like to add that I have a couple of mantids that will go down and hang out on the bottom of their containers when they are hungry. These usually choose an upside down position hanging from the top, or a high perch.

At first, I worried that some of my mantids were ill or daft.

I have figured out that when I put in feeders, they drop to the bottom of the container and some mantids will just stay there when they want to be fed, rather than going down to get the food, or waiting for stunned flying food to wake up and come to them.

With mantids in the same order as roaches, I am not surprised that it is possible for either creature to learn behaviors.

Not all of my insects seem to learn behaviors, but I think that there are a few sharp individuals of different species within my arthropod collection.

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Just today I read a paper where they taught an American cockroach to raise one of its legs to turn off a light. Interestingly they couldn't teach it to lower its leg to do the same. I'll grab the PDF the next time I'm at school and if anybody's interested I can send them a copy.

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Habituation of hissing by Madagascar hissing cockroaches (Gromphadorhina portentosa): evidence of discrimination between humans?

http://www.sciencedi...376635704001688

That's amazing but all these examples shows insects are more complex than we think. If they infact stay calm for people they recognize, which I do believe because that Hisser story matches with one I had. I'm glad none of my roaches are feeders they are smart and quite intelligent!

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Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies seem to be able to learn too. People have tried to see if they could learn by having a bunch of them go through one of two tubes, one going out to the left and the other to the right. In one end there was a small electric shock that was probably not pleasant. When the people let the flies go/do for the first time about half went trough one of the tubes and the other half went through the other tube. And the ones that were in the wrong tube (I think it was the one on the left) were shocked and the ones on the right tube were not shocked. They tried it again (I do not know how much time past) later with the same fruit flies and the same tubes (or maybe just the same way) and over half went through the right tube. But still there were many that went through the wrong tube and many of those I guess were the ones that did not go through the wrong tube. Oh, and mantid seem to learn too. Do worms have brains?

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Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies seem to be able to learn too. People have tried to see if they could learn by having a bunch of them go through one of two tubes, one going out to the left and the other to the right. In one end there was a small electric shock that was probably not pleasant. When the people let the flies go/do for the first time about half went trough one of the tubes and the other half went through the other tube. And the ones that were in the wrong tube (I think it was the one on the left) were shocked and the ones on the right tube were not shocked. They tried it again (I do not know how much time past) later with the same fruit flies and the same tubes (or maybe just the same way) and over half went through the right tube. But still there were many that went through the wrong tube and many of those I guess were the ones that did not go through the wrong tube. Oh, and mantid seem to learn too. Do worms have brains?

So if insects feel pain we have to change everything we know about them, who knew little flies are smart, I guess that's why each summer the bananas in my house aren't safe anywhere lol

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Just today I read a paper where they taught an American cockroach to raise one of its legs to turn off a light. Interestingly they couldn't teach it to lower its leg to do the same. I'll grab the PDF the next time I'm at school and if anybody's interested I can send them a copy.

I'd like to see that.

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I've used my hissers' ability to recognize me but hiss at a stranger at demonstrations, and now I wish I'd thought to write up a report on it! Missed opportunity... :(

Like satchell I'm not organized enough to feed mine on a regimented schedule. Some of my mantids and jumping spiders have learned about being hand-fed or that opening the container means a fly will soon be dropping in. Not to get off-topic though.

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  • 1 month later...

Like satchell I'm not organized enough to feed mine on a regimented schedule. Some of my mantids and jumping spiders have learned about being hand-fed or that opening the container means a fly will soon be dropping in. Not to get off-topic though.

Salticids are very smart animals, I actually have a few stories I could share about consistent interpretations of communication with a few. Giving a dance with my fingers has been returned with arm movements on multiple occasions, and I would gladly defend the intelligence of these jumpers to anyone who disputes it.

Peter once sent me an article that I found extremely rewarding in regards to the intelligent nature of salticids.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10442051

Just today I read a paper where they taught an American cockroach to raise one of its legs to turn off a light. Interestingly they couldn't teach it to lower its leg to do the same. I'll grab the PDF the next time I'm at school and if anybody's interested I can send them a copy.

I would like that article as well, thank you.

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  • 3 months later...

Wow, this is interesting! I wonder if it's possible to teach them to associate tapping on the tank wall with food. It would be really useful if they learnt to show up when called. I guess natural instinct would be to hide even better if they hear the sound but maybe they could learn to overcome that. If the sound is too scary, how about a parfume spray? I've got lots of aromatherapeutic oils that I could spray in the air with very light doses. I'd certainly love to go to a shop and ask the staff "is there anything you could recommend for taming cockroaches?" . Maybe vanilla or coconut? Flowers - rose? Ylang-ylang? Jasmine? Fruits? B)

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Wow, this is interesting! I wonder if it's possible to teach them to associate tapping on the tank wall with food. It would be really useful if they learnt to show up when called. I guess natural instinct would be to hide even better if they hear the sound but maybe they could learn to overcome that. If the sound is too scary, how about a parfume spray? I've got lots of aromatherapeutic oils that I could spray in the air with very light doses. I'd certainly love to go to a shop and ask the staff "is there anything you could recommend for taming cockroaches?" . Maybe vanilla or coconut? Flowers - rose? Ylang-ylang? Jasmine? Fruits? B)

Some oils might be toxic I wouldn't try that.

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Habituation of hissing by Madagascar hissing cockroaches (Gromphadorhina portentosa): evidence of discrimination between humans?

http://www.sciencedi...376635704001688

This makes me laugh, my oldest female can distinguish between me and my boyfriend, she won't hiss at me, but will hiss at him, even if he doesn't touch her, he just has to open the lid and she hisses. I think he has a smell she doesn't like.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Some oils might be toxic I wouldn't try that.

I have a can of peaches and thought of giving my German some little pieces, but your warning about the oils makes me wonder. Have you reared German before? Also, I've been feeding them tropical fish flakes cause a pet shop boy recommended them for crickets, but many of them are dying on the food tray. Any insights there?
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