The Birds and the Bees, and the Hissing Cockroaches

A continuation of a discovery made a few days ago.

SON: What's the white thing in the cockroach cage?

ME: It's called an "unfertilized egg case." It's filled with things that look like baby cockroaches but aren't.

SON: So they're dead.

ME: Well, uh, no. It's like the eggs in the frig, how they're not going to turn into baby chickens, because there were no boy chickens around.

SON: And our cockroaches are girls.

ME: Yes. One of them had this egg case, and she's hissing a lot to protect it because she thinks she had 30 babies, but she didn't, really, because, uh, they're real but not real. Sort of.

SON: I don't get it.

ME: Honestly? Neither do I.


  1. I randomly found your blog post in a frantic search for more information about hissing cockroaches.
    I came home last night to find an egg sac protruding from the backside of one of my two female roaches. They haven't been around males since they were nymphs, but I was afraid they had gone Jurassic Park on me. (Nature finds a way and such.)

    So... you're saying that if there aren't any males around... females make unfertilized egg cases anyway?

    I can't even handle the thought of dozens of roach babies...

  2. Hi Kayro,

    My unscientific study led me to believe that the answer is yes--unfertilized cases. But they look disturbingly like hundreds of little babies, so I share(d) your horror.

    It's fascinating, though, how testy they get protecting these things. A little personality emerges.

    Let me know how it goes!

  3. Well at this point I'm simply confused, since the protruding egg sac is still just protruding and hasn't been pulled back in or discarded somewhere in the cage. I wonder what she's going to do with it...?

    I've already seen a lot of personality out of these two. Even though they're definitely both females, they seem to squabble sometimes about who gets the best spot in the cage. They even hiss at each other occasionally. Everything I've read online says that only males fight.

    Just a couple of headstrong ladies, I guess.

    Thanks for sharing your unscientific research with me. It helped me sleep a little better, anyway!

  4. Wow. That's one for the experts--I really don't know. Good luck with your moody women! The personalities are fascinating; nobody understands when I say that I really liked our first cockroach, Sticky, but have not taken to our last three. Because, uh, they look exactly the same. But we all cried at Sticky's death, but buried the others without a tear.


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