In bush literature – writers like Henry Lawson and Norman Lindsay for example – it’s always the furry things that get the headlines because they’re so cute. You know, things like possums and native marsupials.
As for me, I’m more about cockroaches. Particularly roaches of the giant variety.
At Reedy Creek Reserve in Queensland, which I manage, I’ve been witnessing Giant Burrowing Cockroaches (GBC) appear after big rain events for the best part of a decade.
These magnificent beasties are intriguing because of their sheer size. Measuring up to 8 cm and weighing up to 30 grams, they are simply enormous compared to most insects.
Until now, we thought the cockroaches at Reedy Creek were the species known as Macropanesthia rhinoceros.
We now know, with the help of renowned cockroach expert Dr Harley Rose from the University of Sydney, that they are in fact Macropanesthia rothi – a much rarer species of GBC.
The difference is marked by a couple of extra spines on the roach’s abdomen. There are only three specimens of the rothi species known to science and virtually no study has been done on them, although we expect a lot of the traits of the more commonly occurring rhinoceros species to apply.
This species needs to burrow in loose sandy soils like the ones in the Agnes Water region as part of its lifecycle. Excitingly, we think this species is endemic to a small area and might even be restricted to 10-12 kilometres of the coastline near Reedy Creek.
We're hoping to do some further research to get a better handle on the rothi species’ distribution, and Dr Rose is expected to visit the reserve again before the end of the year.
Three cheers for the Reedy roaches!