Brett Westwood explores how the cockroach has influenced society, satire and tourism.
For as long as humans have been around, we've had the cockroach as an uninvited house guest. No other creepy-crawly has the power to elicit such strong feelings: the horror of uncleanliness and the involuntary shudder that only a scuttling cockroach can bring, as it vanishes behind the bread bin.
But they've entered our imaginations as well as our living spaces. We may have given the cockroach its dark reputation, but this insect is a survivor. Disgusting and revolting are some of the more polite descriptions we use for cockroaches. Is that because we associate them with squalor and poor hygiene, or because they hold a mirror up to the less savoury side of human nature?
But there is a different side to this great survivor. Probably the most famous cockroach in literature is Franz Kafka's novella The Metamorphosis. Films such as Men in Black use the cockroach as a metaphor for alien arrivals. The cockroach can feed our imagination in other ways too. Its reputation can also be turned inward to explore humanity, satirically described by Archy the cockroach early last Century. It's no wonder then that in Australia, attempts were made to bring the worlds biggest cockroach to the tourism trail.
Dr George Beccaloni
In 1999, he set up the A.R. Wallace Memorial Fund and in 2002 he played a key role in helping the Natural History Museum’s library acquire the world's largest and most important collection of Wallace’s manuscripts, books and insect specimens from his grandsons, made up of more than 6,000 items. He is also the director of the Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project
A new generation took to her after her stint in the jungle for ITV’s I’m A Celebrity - Get Me Out Of Here!
She also presented BBC One's The Great Antiques Hunt and Going, Going, Gone, and featured as a regular presenter on the BBC's Holiday programme.
Professor Jeff Lockwood
He teaches courses in natural resource ethics, environmental justice and the philosophy of ecology, along with creative non-fiction writing workshops. He is the author of award-winning books including The Infested Mind: Why Humans Fear, Loathe and Love Insects.
Dr Tom Turpin
He started the Bug Bowl at Purdue University and an insect knowledge quiz bowl for students called the Linnaean Games. He writes a regular popular column on insects for newspapers entitled “On 6 Legs”, available as a podcast and transcription, and is the author of two popular books and one textbook on insects.
Before joining the BBC Natural History Unit Paul studied palaeontology at the Natural History Museum in London following his childhood obsession for all things prehistoric.
Dr Susan Villarreal
In her free time, she runs her website Insect Interviews, which is focused on educating children about insect biology and behavior through humorous one-on-one interviews with the bugs themselves.