Sunday, June 10, 2012

More on Missing Cockroaches

The last two nights I went outside with a flashlight looking for cockroaches.

Both nights I found only 2. Typically I would see more than I can count. 

I've now looked 3 separate nights and found only 2 cockroaches each night.

I don't like cockroaches, but their disappearance, starting in August, has me extraordinarily concerned.

We do not use pesticide. Nothing has changed with our gardening or watering. Our weather has not been atypical. We continue to feed our cat outside. The cockroaches used to feast on the crumbs.

I decided to Google "cockroaches and Chernobyl."

Low and behold cockroach numbers decreased significantly after Chernobyl.

Mary Mycio's Wormwood Forest: A Natural History of Chernobyl documents the decline in cockroaches after Chernobyl on page 116, along with the decline in "maybugs." She claims that insects that live in the soil were adversely affected by Chernobyl.

However, not everyone is convinced the radiation from Chernobyl caused the cockroach decline. See Wikipedia

I found a Russian news article from 2006 that briefly attempts to discount, without explanation, Chernobyl radiation's role in the disappearing cockroaches. 

According to this 2006 Russian article, cockroaches have finally made a come-back after their disappearance, but the article does not explain why or how they disappeared after Chernobyl.

Here is the Russian version of the article

Here is the English translation via google translate:

In Belgorod

04.12.2006 10:58 The disappearance of the cockroaches in the Belgorod not associated with radiation
Several years ago, residents of Belgorod region drew attention to the sudden disappearance of cockroaches. Pestilent insects, known for their ruggedness and survivability, disappeared as if by command. Rumor had it that this is due to radiation.
As reported by the news agency "Bel.Ru" in the federal public health care facility "disinfection station" red cockroaches, or as they are called by the people "cockroaches" widely spread in the territory of the Belgorod region in the last century. Especially active are bred in 80 - 90 years.
First, in 2000 had reduced the number of red cockroaches at all sites, especially where their control was carried out on a regular basis: it's children's educational facilities, catering, trade institutions.  
Contributed to this and the widespread use of drugs approved for use in the home and available to any citizen. Therefore, the disappearance of cockroaches in the Belgorod not associated with radiation.
Certain conditions and insect cycles have contributed to the fact that in 2003-2004 the total number of red cockroaches declined significantly, not only in Belgorod, and Gubkin, Stary Oskol, Shebekino and other cities.
However, in large cities of Russia: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod and other cities did not become less than cockroaches. While the specialists of research institutes do not give a definitive explanation for these facts.
Since mid-2006 once again marked increase in the number of red cockroaches. This can be seen on request to carry out pest treatments.
In addition, this year in the city of Belgorod for the first time poslednie30 years of observations carried out by registered black, so-called "southern" cockroaches. Their appearance is associated with the migration of the population....
MAJIA HERE: It is worth noting that there exists now a fierce battle between (1) those who say that Chernobyl's legacy lives on, continuing to contaminate and mutate flora and fauna, and (2) those who see the primary effects as largely gone.

Here is an excerpt from a good overview of the debate:

Wired Magazine. Half-life: 25 years after the Chernobyl meltdown, a scientific debate rages on. By Adam Higginbotham. 05 May 11

[Excerpted] "Meanwhile, the ecological repercussions of radiation exposure in the Exclusion Zone are now the subject of an increasingly bitter and polarised scientific dispute. On one side, there are Ukrainian and US scientists who argue that plants and animals in the zone are shrugging off the effects of long-term exposure to low levels of radioactivity and are thriving in a fecund wilderness. And on the other is the view represented by Mousseau and his colleague, a Danish biologist named Anders Møller, whose work supports a far more sobering hypothesis: the results of chronic exposure to low-level radiation are little understood and potentially catastrophic. Their evidence suggests that the zone is not an enchanted forest but a radioactive roach motel: animals go in, but they don't always come out....

...The potential genetic changes in human beings -- only now producing their third generation, as the children of the liquidators themselves raise families -- may take hundreds of years to fully unravel. While iodine-131 decayed long ago and the strontium and caesium are slowly becoming less potentially lethal, the hot particles of plutonium-241 scattered across the landscape are actually decaying into an even more toxic isotope, americium-241. A more powerful emitter of alpha radiation than plutonium, americium is also more soluble and can easily find its way into the food chain. Americium-241, in turn, decays into neptunium-237, another energetic alpha emitter that has a half-life of more than two million years. As of yet, the long-term effect of americium-241 remains largely unknown."

I've already stated where I come down on this debate. I know three people whose health was ruined by Chernobyl. They were born in the 1970s and 1980s and lived in Poland, Sweden, and Romania.

I've also seen The Children of Chernobyl 

And I studied Yablokov et al's comprehensive review of research on Chernobyl:
 Yablokov, Alexey, Vassily B. Nesterenko, Alexey V. Nesterenko, and Janette D. Sherman-Nevinger Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for the People and the Environment. New York: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1141, 2009.

Given my interpretive stance, I'm betting the Russian government wanted to downplay the potential role of Chernobyl radiation in decimating cockroach populations because its probably pretty disturbing for people to think that Chernobyl fallout wiped out cockroaches.

If it wipes out cockroaches, what is it doing to people?

We don't live in the soil, like the cockroaches do, but we do eat plants from the soil. I posted a discussion of research I found documenting the uptake of radioactive cesium by plants. Plants are fooled by cesium, thinking it is potassium. So, the plants distribute the cesium throughout their entire system. We then eat the plants and ingest the cesium.

Cesium has been detected in the pollen of California trees (Gundersen: Cesium-134 and -137 detected in Southern California pollen sample — “When you find them both together that’s a Fukushima signature” (VIDEO)

What do ingested radionuclides do to us? Well, take a look at the Children of Chernobyl video.

Here is some background on "internal emitters," or ingested or inhaled radionuclides, summarized from scientific studies

Here are two discussions of what happens to our genetic code when exposed to ionizing radiation, particularly when ingested: 

Mutations: Germ Line Mosaicism


I don't know how much fallout it takes to largely wipe out a thriving cockroach colony but I'm personally convinced that Fukushima fallout took out the one in my yard.

I don't miss the cockroaches, but their absence haunts me.

Perhaps it takes less fallout to destroy cockroaches than people. 

I certainly hope so.


  1. You need some rigor here. Let's see:
    1-you see 2 cochroaches per night=there is a decrease in cochrach
    2-This is due to some nuclear catastrophe ongoing.

    Nr 1 is bollocks. What is your sample, what is your method? Observations: 2, sample size, control group, etc? Very poor.

    Nr 2 is useless if you don't demonstrate nr. 1

  2. I don't have to use the scientific method because I am not trying to persuade anyone but myself.

    In the summer our patio is ALWAYS over run by insects. Not a single insect can be seen on my patio this year. This is a huge anomaly.

    The only major factor that has changed in my environment is the massive fallout from Fukushima, some of which was documented on the EPA's radnet readings for Phoenix Nov-Jan.

    Are you a shill or a troll?

    I am tired of the denial. My family is at risk and the SOBs who are hiding the truth are genocidal.

  3. Yes, I am another 1,000 miles east of you and my wild bird population is down 80% from previous years. I don't get too many cockroaches even outside my house, but other bugs are fewer. Flies, June bugs, ants...all down in numbers.

    I always heard cockroaches were pretty resistent to radiation, but I guess that was old 1950s and 1960s speculation. The Chernobyl studies indicate they are also affected.

    I have seen about as many fruit flies as other years so that makes this Wikipedia entry on cockroaches make sense to me:

    "It is popularly suggested that cockroaches will "inherit the earth" if humanity destroys itself in a nuclear war. Cockroaches do indeed have a much higher radiation resistance than vertebrates, with the lethal dose perhaps 6 to 15 times that for humans. However, they are not exceptionally radiation-resistant compared to other insects, such as the fruit fly.[24]

    The cockroach's ability to withstand radiation better than human beings can be explained through the cell cycle. Cells are most vulnerable to the effects of radiation when they are dividing. A cockroach's cells divide only once each time it molts, which is weekly at most in a juvenile roach. Since not all cockroaches would be molting at the same time, many would be unaffected by an acute burst of radiation, but lingering radioactive fallout would still be harmful." ---

  4. Well, I live in Israel and I also experienced a sizeable decrease in the number of cockroaches. I mean the usual type of cockroach that is common in Israel. However, this year, it looks like as if they have been replaced by a much smaller kind (the "German type"). Clearly I have seen many more fruit flies than usual.

    Caveat: this is not a scientific report. I only report what I've seen myself in Gush Dan, Israel.

    PS: 1) I am not sure about the connection with Fukushima. (And in Israel the pollution, chemical and radioactive, is high anyway.) But:

    2) it may well be that before we make this connection 100% clear (by scientific standards), we shall all be either dead or very ill.

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  6. This is scary. I should be alarmed if cockroaches would disappear. Never thought of that before.

  7. I live in Utah and I have small children. Ever since the disaster, I thought of moving my family somewhere a little "safer" than here. I have thought about moving to East coast or even moving to Central Asia or Australia. Moving to the east coast of USA is doable than the other to options.
    Anyone have any suggestions?

  8. Now that is something worthy of looking back to. It's always advisable to find out what goes on in our surroundings. I think we should do as much research as we can, mainly because it will not only give us a good idea of pest activity, as well as knowledge of the extent of which it might return. Tracking the ebbs and flows of it all is always the smart way forward, far as pest control is concerned. Thanks for sharing!

    Alta Peng @ Liberty Pest Management

  9. A Nuclear War and Life of Cockroaches

    Yuck. Cockroaches are dirty, endless hunter which can be unaffected by using radiation. In a post-apocalypti international, it is going to be those grimy little critters that survive. We’d be better off without them.

    1. cockroaches can withstand high gamma radiation externally. However, they "breathe" through cilia on their legs. Bioaccumulation of radioactive particles results from "breathing" in radioactive fallout attached to tiny particles.

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