While stereotypically considered a household pest that simply will not die, Hung Ting-yang’s (洪鼎揚) experience with Archimandrita tesselata, commonly called the peppered roach, might change a person’s mind.
The peppered roach originates in South America, is omnivorous and, as it is capable of growing to 7cm to 9cm long, is a giant compared with other roaches, which have an average length of about 4cm.
The peppered roach goes through six separate chrysalis stages and takes nine months to reach full maturity. Mature roaches have wings, but cannot fly and can only glide. They have an average lifespan of three years.
Photo: Lee Hui-chou, Taipei Times
As his parents were against letting him keep dogs or cats as a child, Hung said that he raised insects and has been infatuated with them ever since.
He was introduced to peppered roaches when he was visiting an exhibition overseas, Hung said.
“My first thought when seeing the roach was: ‘Cool!’” Hung said.
Hung said that he started looking up information about the roaches after returning to Taiwan, and after discovering that there were others in Taiwan who kept them as pets, he decided he would join them.
“Raising the peppered roach’s larvae is more like raising stag beetles. You observe their every little movement, arrange better environments for them and enjoy watching them become a chrysalis,” Hung said.
It is important to raise the roaches in a perpendicular case, or simulate an environment with trees, as gravity’s pull on the cocoon is an imperative step in the roach’s survival, he said.
The golden-flecked membranous wings of the peppered roach are beautiful when viewed under the light, Hung said.
He stressed that the owner must constantly monitor the humidity and temperature of their habitat, as Taiwan is hotter than their original habitat.
“I keep the air conditioner on all day,” Hung said, adding that the roaches find it difficult to escape, as they are unable to walk on smooth surfaces.
He said he is not concerned about the roaches breeding if they escape, as they have many natural enemies.
“I hope that more people will come to appreciate their beauty,” he added.
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