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Study: Cockroaches evolving, may become impossible to kill

Cockroaches can carry dozens of types of bacteria that can seriously sicken humans.
Credit: WVEC

A new study found that a species of cockroaches are evolving so quickly that they could soon be impossible to kill with pesticides.

The study from entomologists at Purdue University found German cockroaches are being born with an immunity to some toxins even if they haven't yet been exposed to them. These cockroaches are able to develop an immunity to new pesticides in as quickly as one generation, the study says.

Live Science said pest exterminators usually use different types of poisons to get rid of roaches. If the bugs are resistant to one type, they typically die from the others.

However, the Purdue study found these cockroaches are developing "cross-resistance" to a range of poisons at an alarming rate.

"We didn't have a clue that something like that could happen this fast," study co-author, Michael Scharf, said.

Scharf said in the study that because this species is developing resistance to multiple classes of insecticides as such a rapid rate, controlling these cockroaches will be "almost impossible" to do with chemicals alone.

The University of Florida's Entomology & Nematology program calls the German cockroach the cockroach of concern. The university said these bugs are found throughout the world wherever there are humans. In fact, the university said German cockroaches aren't able to survive away from human activity.

The Purdue study's authors said an "integrated pest management system" is crucial to controlling the evolving German cockroaches. Scharf recommends using chemical treatments alongside traps, vacuums and improved sanitation plans.

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