As the world faces an increasing number of challenges for the continuation of the human race, a new study finds it may soon be nearly impossible to kill cockroaches, preparing us to bow down to our future insect overlords.
Researchers from Purdue University found that German roaches, which are among the most common, are quickly evolving resistance to various pesticides and passing down those resistant genes to their offspring.
“Cockroaches developing resistance to multiple classes of insecticides at once will make controlling these pests almost impossible with chemicals alone,” said the study’s co-author Michael Scharf in a press release.
The researchers tested three different types of insecticides on cockroach populations in apartment buildings across the U.S.
Throughout the six-month-long study, scientists found the cockroach population either remained stable or actually increased, with resistance to various insecticides being passed down to offspring.
“We would see resistance increase four- or six-fold in just one generation,” Scharf said. “We didn’t have a clue that something like that could happen this fast.”
Researchers found that using a single pesticide was more effective than using multiple strains, where many of the bugs developed cross-resistance.
According to the researchers, female cockroaches have a three-month reproductive cycle during which they can have up to 50 offspring.
Even if a small number of cockroach offspring developed a resistance to a particular insecticide, many of the newborn bugs could develop a cross-resistance in which a population that is eliminated in a single “treatment” could explode again in mere months.
This issue isn’t just gross — it’s serious. Many roaches can carry dozens of bacteria including E. coli and salmonella, leaving behind traces of feces, saliva and body parts that can cause serious health problems for many.
Scharf recommended a combination of chemical treatments, traps, improved sanitation and vacuums as the most effective way of removing the pests — for now.