National Cockroach Project wants to study their genetic variation, so send in your own!

national cockroach project study
Through the National Cockroach Project at Rockefeller University’s Program for the Human Environment, researchers are studying variations among the insects.
Credit: Getty Images

Dr. Mark Stoeckle wants you to send him cockroaches. He swears it’s for science.

Through the National Cockroach Project at Rockefeller University’s Program for the Human Environment, Stoeckle and his team are studying the genetic variation among cockroaches—particularly the ones New Yorkers find, well, everywhere.

“People look at them as pests and think they’re all the same, but it turns out they’re not all the same,” Stoeckle said.

After studying two-thirds of the 200-or-so cockroaches sent to the project since it began last November, Stoeckle and his team have found New York City cockroaches vary by neighborhood.

“In general, there’s just one species but there’s a lot of different types, ethic varieties,” he said, equating the insects to immigrants who tend to settle in various neighborhoods.

Cockroaches on the Upper West Side, he said, are different from those on Roosevelt Island, for instance.

“There’s a lot to learn about wild things in the place we live, in an urban area,” he said.

Though Stoeckle said the project has received roaches—squished or otherwise—from around the world, most are city insects.

“Somehow New Yorkers seem to be more willing to pick one up and stick it in an envelope and send it in,” he said.

Find out how to send Stoeckle and his team cockroaches here.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


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