The ideal home for a cockroach…

Have you ever wondered what your cockroach would consider to be the ideal home? Have you ever tried to ask but been disappointed by the lack of response? Well, there are ways that you can find out. First, become a scientist. That’s the easy bit. Now, as a scientist, you have to conduct an experiment. So take one cockroach (a woodlouse will suffice if you don’t have a cockroach) and a plastic box at least 4 times the length of the cockroach (a large margarine container will be perfect). Divide the box into two with a cardboard strip but leave a small door so the cockroach can move between the sections (see diagram). Add some soil or wood chips to the base. You have created an environmental choice chamber.

Choice chamber diagram

Environmental Choice Chamber

What choices are you going to test?

  • You could cover half the container so it is dark and leave the other half light. Which side does the cockroach prefer?
  • You could make the wood chips in one half damp (but not wet) and leave the other side dry. Does your cockroach prefer damp or dry conditions?
  • You could put a piece of banana on one side and some cereal on the other. Which food does your cockroach choose?

Now you think of some choices to test.

Always add your cockroach into the centre of the environmental choice chamber and give it a few minutes to settle.

  • You could also look at how your cockroach behaves. Record everything it does for 5 minutes. Does it wave its antennae on one side of the chamber more than the other? Does it clean more on one side of the chamber than the other?
  • To make this a proper scientific experiment you need to repeat it to check that your results (scientific word for findings) are not just a chance event (your cockroach is not just behaving randomly). Ideally you would use a different cockroach each time but if you only have one then you can do the same experiment a few times. Are the results the same every time?
  • Can you summarise your findings? What makes a cockroach ideal home?