Madeira Cockroach (rhyparobia Maderae): Species Accounts
Physical characteristics: Adults range in length from 1.57 to 1.97 inches (39.9 to 50 millimeters). Males and females are very similar in appearance. Their bodies are pale brown to tan. The forewings are fully developed and cover the entire body. Each forewing has two black lines at the base, while the rest of the wings have small spots.
Geographic range: This species is native to West Africa but is now found throughout the tropical regions of the world and is especially common on the islands of the Caribbean. In 1950 it became established in basements of some buildings in New York City but has spread little since then.
Habitat: The Madeira cockroach infests food stores indoors, but outdoors it prefers to live in sugarcane fields, as well as palms, guava, and bananas growing next to the fields.
Diet: This cockroach probably eats both plant and animal tissues. It is especially fond of bananas and grapes.
Behavior and reproduction: The Madeira cockroach lives in groups and may form large colonies. The male sometimes taps the ground or tree trunk with his midsection, possibly to attract females. During courtship the female feeds on special fluids from the male's second abdominal segment. The pair remain together for twenty to thirty minutes.
At temperatures ranging between 86 and 97°F (30 and 36°C), mated females produce their first egg capsule about twenty days after reaching maturity. Each egg capsule contains about forty eggs. The eggs take about two months to develop inside the body of the mother. The young larvae forage for food with their mother. They molt, shed their external skeletons, seven or eight times before reaching maturity. Males mature in 121 days; females require 150 days. The total life span, from egg to adult, is about two and a half years.
Madeira cockroaches and people: This species is a pest in some tropical regions, where it eats fruits intended for humans. It is also used as an experimental laboratory animal.
Conservation status: This species is not endangered or threatened. ∎
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