Cockroach Phylum and Class

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  • 0:00 A Household Terror
  • 1:08 Phylum Arthropoda
  • 2:24 Class Insecta
  • 4:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Wendy McDougal

Wendy has taught high school Biology and has a master's degree in education.

The cockroach belongs to the phylum Arthropoda, along with animals such as spiders and crustaceans. It is also a member of the class Insecta, the most diverse group of animals on earth.

A Household Terror

When was the last time you encountered an insect? Most likely it was very recent and was probably no big deal. The sight of a housefly buzzing around is hardly shocking; an ant barely brings a shrug; and butterflies and ladybugs even elicit joy and excitement.

However, there are those insects that cause quite a different reaction. In fact, there is one that you may hear in the wee hours of the night scuttling across the kitchen floor. Feelings of paralyzing fear arise, because you immediately know this intruder. Your home has been invaded by a terrifying nuisance: the cockroach.

The dreaded cockroach

This winged villain makes its home in places such as the sewer, woodpiles, or garbage areas. It comes out at night, often in our homes for our leftovers. A very successful species (they've been around since the dinosaurs) they are also carriers of disease, adding to their unpopularity. A close cousin of the more likable grasshopper and cricket, the cockroach is tough and adaptable. In this lesson, we'll take a closer look at the cockroach and how it fits into the natural world.

Phylum Arthropoda

In terms of classification, recall that we start with these categories:

  1. Kingdom
  2. Phylum
  3. Class

The cockroach belongs in the Animalia kingdom, just like you and I. That is essentially where our commonalities end, thankfully. From there, the cockroach divides off into phylum Arthropoda, a term literally meaning ''jointed appendages.'' With over a million species, arthropods make up the most diverse and numerous group to ever inhabit the earth. When you take into account that insects are included in this group, it's easy to understand why they are found literally everywhere. Other familiar members of this phylum include crustaceans such as crabs, lobsters, and spiders.

The crab, a fellow arthropod

Arthropods are characterized by their jointed appendages, which are their legs, and tough exoskeletons. An exoskeleton is essentially what it sounds like: an external skeleton. It is a protective covering made of protein and a hard substance called chitin. Although this outer covering varies in thickness and flexibility, in arthropods such as cockroaches it is akin to a coat of armor. You have probably stepped on a bug and felt the crunch beneath your feet. With cockroaches this is not so easy. Their exoskeletons are so rigid that you really have to put some effort in to kill them with your shoe.

Class Insecta

Moving further down the classification tree, cockroaches can be found in class Insecta. Insects make up the most diverse class of all living beings on Earth by far. Found on land, in water, and in air, they outnumber all other living things combined. From flies to mosquitoes, lice to beetles, insects occupy every nook and cranny of the natural world.

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