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.
In terms of classification, recall that we start with these categories:
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.
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.
Although highly varied, insects have many traits in common. Every insect has three distinct body sections: the head, abdomen, and thorax. On the head we find a pair of compound eyes and a pair of antennae. Mouthparts are present, adapted for piercing, sucking, chewing, or biting, depending on the creature. It comes as no surprise that many (though not all) insects have one or two pairs of wings which are attached to the thorax. In addition, three pairs of jointed legs are also present.
Alternate view of cockroach showing head
Let's look at these specific traits on the cockroach. We find the three bodily sections, as well as compound eyes and antennae on the head. Also on the head of the cockroach are mouthparts adapted for biting, chewing, and grinding. This allows these omnivorous creatures to forage just about anywhere. The search for food is what brings them as uninvited guests into our homes, as they enjoy our pantry items and leftovers.
Example of large wings on cockroach
There is yet another distinct feature found on many, but not all cockroaches. Much to our horror, many roaches have been blessed with not one, but two large pairs of wings that essentially cover their body. It's bad enough to watch a cockroach dart across the kitchen or closet floor; to have a one fly at you or land on you spells out panic to a whole different level.
Cockroaches are members of the animal kingdom, belonging to the phylum Arthropoda. Members of this phylum are characterized by jointed appendages and hard exoskeletons. Other members of Arthropoda include crustaceans and spiders. Cockroaches also belong to the class Insecta. Insects are the most numerous and diverse of any group in the animal kingdom. Insects, such as cockroaches, have three body segments: the head, thorax and abdomen. They also have three pairs of legs. Cockroaches have biting and chewing mouthparts, and many have two large pairs of wings.