Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index



Madagascan Hissing Cockroach
(Gromphadorhina portentosa).
This insect is 3 inches (8 cm) long.
See main text for more information.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Subclass: Pterygota
Superorder: Neoptera
Order: Blattodea
Ref: ITIS 102427 2002-12-11
A cockroach is an insect of the order Blattodea (or Blattaria). The typical American or German cockroach is about 3 cm long, but tropical cockroaches can be much bigger. They are often found around garbage and are considered a pest in the kitchen. Female cockroaches, or henroaches, are sometimes seen carrying egg cases on the end of their abdomen; the egg case holds about 30 long, thin eggs, laid along the case. The eggs hatch into pale yellow nymphs that quickly inflate themselves with air and harden.

Notes on the picture:
The Madagascan Hissing Cockroach is a large flightless insect from the forests of Madagascar. It lives under the bark of trees or in leaf litter, feeding on plant matter including leaves and fallen fruit.
Any predator that catches one of these cockroaches is in for a double shock. The legs of this insect are covered in needle sharp spines and the cockroach can make a loud hissing sound. It does this by forcing air out of the breathing holes that runs along the side of its body.
This is one of the largest cockroaches in the world and can reach 8 cm (3 inches).
Although they live in the forest they are attracted by house lights and will sometimes creep through open windows. However they are harmless and will soon leave when disturbed.
The Masagascan Hissing Cockroach is often used in television and films where a large scary looking insect is required, giving this harmless creature an undeserved reputation.