Buggin’ Out… Is Cockroach Milk the Protein Shake of the Future?

Though the idea of crunching on crickets is repulsive to many people, insects are an important food source in many parts of the world, and there’s a growing movement to introduce them into Western diets as an eco-friendly source of protein.

But if bug burgers don’t whet your appetite, you’re probably not the target audience for this latest insect-related dietary suggestion either: cockroach milk.

Yes, you read that right. There’s a species of cockroach, Diploptera punctata, that is viviparous, meaning it gives birth to live young. And just like mammals, this roach feeds its young with milk. Now scientists have discovered a way to produce this milk efficiently in the lab, and the creamy concoction could one day be transformed into a highly nutritious protein shake, reports the Times of India.

The key reason why scientists are interested in extracting this roach’s milk is because it’s so nutritious. A single protein crystal from the milk is estimated to contain more than three times the amount of energy found in an equivalent mass of dairy milk.

“The crystals are like a complete food — they have proteins, fats and sugars. If you look into the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids,” said Sanchari Banerjee, one of the main authors of a recent paper on the new lab-generated substance.

As you might imagine, however, milking cockroaches isn’t so easy as milking cows. Even if you do succeed, not a lot of milk is produced by a single roach. So Banerjee and colleagues developed a more sophisticated way of extracting this buggy goodness, by sequencing the genes responsible for producing the protein crystals in a mommy roach’s gut. This allowed the researchers to produce the milk in the lab, potentially making it easier to mass produce.

Though these cockroach milkshakes have the potential to be the power protein of the future, there aren’t any plans yet to go commercial. No doubt, any product containing milk drawn from a roach will need a pretty amazing ad campaign to turn it into serious merchandise.

But perhaps with some clever labeling, the nutritional benefits might make it worth a shot.

There Are Hundreds Of Spiders And Insects Living In Your Home Right Now

Science has confirmed what anyone who’s heard a scratching nose in their ear already knew: We’re never alone. You might think you’re spending a nice, quiet evening by yourself on the couch at your home, but nope. All around are hundreds of spiders, flies, ants, beetles, centipedes, and other arthropods.

A team of entomologists at North Carolina State University moved fridges and lifted carpets, and discovered that the average American home was “inhabited by 579 different types of arthropods,” or 100 arthropod species. U-S-A?

“We were pretty surprised with what we found, such as the smallest wasp in the world, which is just 1mm long,” (entomologist) Matthew Bertone] said. “I saw a lot of things in homes that I had never seen in the wild before, things we’ve previously tried to trap. There is a weird species of beetle, called telephone pole beetles, where the babies can produce babies. And tiny crickets called ant-loving ants because they are found near ant nests. I’ve never seen one of those before.”

Telephone pole beetle babies making telephone pole beetle babies. The research was conducted in Raleigh, North Carolina, and only included homes up to 5,000 square feet in size; apartments were ruled out “due to the shared bugs within apartment buildings.” Well, looks like it’s time to burn down my complex. Except then I’ll be outside, where there are even more spiders. There’s no winning, is there?

9 Honeybee-Friendly Plants

Avid gardeners take note: It’s never too late to get out your shovel and start planting flowers to help bolster the honeybee population, which is in danger of extinction. Widespread colony collapse disorder is due to environmental stress stemming from overuse of pesticides as well as parasitic attacks, according to experts. This affects not just the honeybees but also our food supply.

“Over 75 percent of the foods we eat require pollination,” says Miriam Goldberger, author of “Taming Wildflowers: Bringing the Beauty and Splendor of Nature’s Blooms into Your Own Backyard,” and owner of Wildflower Farm, the largest (and oldest) wildflower seed company in Canada. “The most effective pollinators of food crops are European honeybees and North American native bees.”

Just think: By adding (floral) inventory to your landscape, you’ll also attract pollinators year-round because more than 75 kinds of wildflowers provide pollen for bees. “The best thing is to plant annuals that bloom all season,” suggests Polly Hutchinson, an organic flower farmer at Robin Hollow Farm in Saunderstown, Rhode Island. “That gives bees way more to feed on and it’s a great way to support the population you have on your property.” So, why not roll up your sleeves and read on, as we share the top plants you should consider planting — and you can do it this weekend.

1. Asters

asters

These blue, pink and purple flowers are ideal additions to your garden since they bloom in late-summer and stay in bloom into fall, making them a welcome option for honeybees to feed on when other flowers in your garden are no longer in bloom.

2. Black-eyed Susans

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With stalks that grow to three feet and beyond, these yellow flowers that boast a brown-purple center are a honeybee fave. Best of all, they are long-lived perennials native to North America, so there’s no need to replant.

3. Dandelions

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Technically a weed, this yellow sprout is beloved by bees. “Let them be,” Hutchinson advises. “Yes, dandelions are weeds, but they’re also great for bees and their roots go way down, which ultimately puts nutrients from lower down in the ground up to help feed your grass. They’re a win-win plant!”

4. Lemon balm

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This perennial herb that’s part of the mint family, a.k.a. Melissa officinalis, is a perfect bee-attracting addition to any partly shady garden. It also has a long history. In ancient Greek times, this herb was planted near their bee hives to help keep the honeybees well-fed from the plant’s nectar-rich flowers and to help prevent their bees from swarming, says Aaron von Frank, an expert organic gardener and co-founder of GrowJourney, a USDA-certified organic Seeds of the Month Club. “We grow it in our garden and our neighbor’s honeybees cover the flowers throughout the blooming cycle,” he says. “Lemon balm makes a delicious tea, too.”

5. Purple coneflower

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Otherwise known as echinacea, this resplendent daisy-like flower is a honeybee magnet and provides both pollen and nectar to foraging bees.

6. Snapdragons

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During the day when bees are looking for nourishment, snapdragons release four times more scent, which draws honeybees to them. Adding to the allure: The bees then carry the aroma of the snapdragon back to the hive. This attracts even more bees to the flowerbeds.

7. Sunflowers

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A hardy annual that’s tall and grows into strong stalks, sunflowers are a honeybee must-plant. Opt for yellow or orange sunflowers instead of red ones, since bees can’t detect the color red when they seek out places to feed.

8. Yarrow

yarrow

A perennial, these bright flattened buds that come with a signature fernlike leaf are favorite spots for bees to collect nectar. They’re also ideal for cutting and drying once the season is over.

9. Zinnias

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These easy-to-grow flowers stay in bloom for most of the season and are colorful, too. “Anything that has a lot of small flowers on the flower is great for bees,” Hutchinson says. “You want to seek out flowers that can provide more pollen, which ultimately provides that much more food for the bees.”