Touched Female Cockroaches Reproduce Faster
Not that there are many reasons for improving the efficiency of reproduction in cockroaches, but a new study has determined that nothing beats a gentle touch to get the process in high gear. Researchers at North Carolina State University used duck feathers as artificial antennae to determine whether their touch could speed up reproduction in cockroach females. The study in tactile stimulation and reproduction was performed using a motor-driven system with duck feathers playing the role of cockroach antennae.
According to the article recently published in Science Daily, the artificial antennae stimulated specific hormones that cause reproduction in female German cockroaches. Dr. Coby Schal, Blanton J. Whitmire Professor of Entomology at the university and senior author of the paper on the research reported that the shape of the artificial antennae, as well as the speed and duration at which they touched, had a direct impact on the reproduction speed. When the cockroaches lay the eggs sooner, the result is in bigger infestations.
When a female cockroach was placed in a Petri dish where another cockroach’s antennae were allowed to protrude into the dish, the reproduction sped up significantly. Reducing the interloper’s antennae to nubs reduced the speed of reproduction to the equivalent of those roaches in isolation. When using the duck feathers for stimulation, various speeds and durations of stimulation were used. Those which used slow motor speeds led to faster reproduction while those which used longer durations with faster moving feathers led to a slowed reproduction. Longer barbed feathers were also more productive than those which were shorter and unbarbed.
Researchers now have a better understanding of how tactile stimulation affects reproduction. They know how significant antennal contact and antennal movement are, giving them a point for further study in how the touch leads to females producing more of the hormone responsible for speeding up reproduction.