Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cool Animal Sounds: Hissing Cockroachs

When I still had my hissers, I heard them hissing all of the time. The sound is pretty unusual and, when you aren't used to it, can be quite startling.

Hissers are very unique in the insect world for how they make their hissing sounds. The vast majority of insects manipulate their bodies in some way to make noise. A mosquito's buzz comes from the beating of its wings. Crickets chirp by rubbing parts of their wings together. Cicadas have a special concave membrane that they "pop" to make their characteristic noise. Other species rub against surroundings to produce a sound. Roaches are far more like us as they force air out of their spiracles (breathing holes), creating the hiss.You can often see this when they hiss, as the sound is so often accompanied by sudden contraction of the abdomen.

Source is Cornell University. Videos are from YouTube: one, two.


  1. That's so cool! These things are seriously neat.

    1. I miss my little hissers. I might just be getting some more soon.

  2. I remember when I worked in the Entomology Department at Penn State, they had a whole load of those guys. Not really sure what they were using them for, they might just have been to impress visitors, but I was utterly fascinated.

    I never really 'got' the visceral reaction some people have to creepy-crawlies. There are very few bugs that I would be unhappy about holding, and virtually all of those are venomous, or at least can deliver a really nasty nip.

    Then again, I do have my own bizarre phobias, so no judgement here.

    1. That's really interesting. I'm curious why the were keeping them too. I know kids love them because of the noises and the fact that they're easy to handle.

      I tend to laugh at people who get all creeped out. I know it's a bit mean, but I can't help it. I don't really have any fear with animals, though I always weigh the risk before I ever consider actually touching one. Part of handling venomous inverts is holding them the right way to greatly reduce the risk that they will become fearful and bite/sting. I've held some really cool venomous arthropods, like scorpions and tarantulas. I've never been stung/bit by any venomous animal I've purposefully held.

      I do have phobias as well, though most are very common. Like heights.