Feel Good

Don’t Kill Your Cockroaches; Milk Them!

Scientists have found a nutrient-dense liquid secreted by female Pacific beetle cockroaches to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet.

BY August 25, 2016


Recently, researchers have found one of the healthiest source of nutrients in nature: cockroach milk. Let me repeat that – cockroach milk. You may have to suspend your disbelief for this one, but scientists have discovered the nutrient-dense liquid secreted by female Pacific beetle cockroaches at the University of Iowa. While most insects lay eggs, this specific species of cockroach gives birth to live offspring and produces a kind of “milk” to sustain them in their embryonic stage. This milk concentrates inside the young’s guts to create tiny crystals.

The lead researcher, Barbara Stay, found she could “milk the cockroach” to extract the liquid from the mother or the crystals from the embryos. In an interview with NPR she explained, "You substitute a filter paper in the brood sac for the embryos and you leave it there," and after, "you take it out and you get the milk." Biochemist Subramanian Ramaswamy and a team at the Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in Bangalore, India, found the milk to be three times richer in calories than buffalo milk (the previously highest calorie milk), and contain rich sources of sugar, fat, and protein.

This milk could be groundbreaking in the fight against global hunger once a safe and financially sustainable “milking” process is developed. As of right now, it has not been proven to be safe for human consumption (unlike other creepy crawlers such as grasshoppers, crickets and worms). The difficulty and safety of cockroach milk is leading Ramaswamy to work on genetically engineering yeast with the same properties as the milk, and health food companies and environmentalists alike are surely watching his work closely. So don’t expect a cockroach milk shot to be available at Ada’s any time soon. 


Photo by Ken-ichi Ueda via Flickr.


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