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Hissing Cockroach Harbors Mold-Fighting Mites

Researchers report that the Madagascar hissing cockroach carries mites that inhibit the growth of molds on the large insect. The scientists suggest that this might reduce the risk of human allergy to these insects, which are popular educational tools and pets. This popularity owes to the insect’s gentle nature, large size, odd sounds, and low maintenance. The mites do not directly destroy the molds, but rather consume water and organic debris that would otherwise be used by the molds. The presence of the mites on the cockroach reduces the presence of molds by at least 50 percent. “By suppressing the molds, the mites have a role in reducing allergic reactions to cockroaches,” said an author of the study, which was published in Symbiosis. [Press release]