It’s said that when humanity destroys itself and takes most of the life on Earth down with it, the only creatures left will be cockroaches and rats. Rats have already been proven to be adept at mutating, with the latest example coming from a tiny park in New York City which is home to super rats that survived attempts to exterminate them. Now, the tiny Mediterranean island of Malta has been discovered to be home to an aggressive mutation of grave-living super cockroaches which, despite being blind, are terrorizing all other insects in their vicinity. Are the residents of Malta living above ground in danger of these super roaches rising from the graves?
“A population targeted for extermination was found in Addoralata cemetery after three specimens of this white eye variant were found in an underground shelter in Marsa, not very far from a normal but darker version of this species.”
The report on the grave-living mutant cockroaches comes from the ironically-named site Lovin’ Malta. They were discovered by exterminator Arnold Sciberras in the equally ironically-named Santa Maria Addolorata Cemetery (Cemetery of Our Lady of Sorrows) where he had been called to remove an infestation of roaches. Calling Arnold Sciberras an exterminator is also ironic since he is so much more – a naturalist, entomologist, herpetologist, nature photographer and researcher. He uses natural pesticides whenever possible to avoid affected non-pests. As an entomologist, he’s an expert in both controlling and maintaining the species he’s called to exterminate. That’s why he collected the roaches in the grave he was hired to eliminate.
What Sciberras found is that they’re aggressive mutations of normally docile America cockroaches (Periplaneta Americana). (Pictures here.) The last time white-eyed cockroaches were seen was in the 1950s in a coal mine in Glamorgan in Wales, and now, 60 years later, they’ve come back in the wilds of Malta – well, as wild as life can be in a grave at Addolorata Cemetery on land that has been used as a burial ground since prehistoric times. Did this have anything to with creating these mutants?
“They differ from the norm in that they’ve white eyes, longer antenna, shorter our bodies they usually transfer at a lot sooner speeds.”
Sciberras believes the longer antenna evolved to cope with living in the dark, either from blindness or just being underground. The speed, aggressiveness and fast reproduction cycles are mysteries which he plans to study – he captured six males and two females and is now breeding them.
“They push and shove some other specimens of their very own species that do not share their mutation, in addition to different similar-sized bugs.”
What could possibly go wrong?