Friday, May 4, 2007

Museum offering to buy Cockroaches

A Houston museum is offering 25 cents per cockroach to fill an exhibit about the wonders of insects that eat decomposing things.

The Houston Museum of Natural Science wants 1,000 American cockroaches, which grow to 2 inches long, can fly and thrive in the city's sub-tropical climate, said museum entomologist Laurie Pierrel on Wednesday.

They will be part of an exhibit polishing the image of bugs that feed off decaying organic matter and in so doing add to the general cleanliness.

"They're decomposers, a bit like a trash disposal," Pierrel said. "If we didn't have cockroaches, there'd be so much more trash around."

Roaches are widely believed to be dirty, disease-carrying creatures, but that is unfair, she said.

"They are very clean like a cat," Pierrel said. "They clean themselves all day."

There is the matter that they often enter houses through the sewer system, and that troublesome organic matter from there can stick on their feet, but only until they clean it off, she said.

The Houston Chronicle on Wednesday had a frontpage illustration of a homemade roach trap to capture the bugs without touching them.

Pierrel said she will be outside the museum the next three Saturdays with a bucket for the bugs and money for the sellers.

What will the museum roaches eat? Pretty much what they would get scavenging in the average home.

"We usually throw in a box of cake mix, some pieces of apple, some pieces of orange, cat food, dog food -- our insects eat well," Pierrel said.

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