SCIENCE

Cockroaches Shown To Have Distinct Personalities (But They're Still Gross)

02/09/2015 05:00 pm ET | Updated Feb 09, 2015
Lynette MT/Flickr

While you may never hear the advice "be your own cockroach," a new study suggests the icky insects have their own distinct personalities.

Yes, scientists at the Universite' libre de Bruxelles in Belgium have found that cockroaches show individual traits such as shyness and boldness.

For the study, more than 300 four-month-old male American cockroaches were fitted with radio tags on their thoraxes and placed in an enclosed area with both well-lit and shaded sections.

The scientists observed the creepy-crawlies for one week. They noted that some of the bugs were more apt to check out their surroundings and hunt for food, while others quickly sought shelter in the darker areas -- and stayed put.

"Shy individuals are those that spend more time sheltered and explore less the arena or the surroundings," Isaac Planas Sitjà, the lead author of the study and a Ph.D. fellow at the university, told the Guardian. "Bold individuals are those that spend most of the time exploring the surroundings and spend less time sheltered."

The roaches showed consistent "shy" or "bold" behavior. In the end, however, herd mentality won out. All of the roaches -- including the bold explorers -- eventually bunched together with other members of their group beneath the same shelter.

There is a collective dynamic — a social influence — that dilutes the individual personality differences,” Planas-Sitjà told Science magazine. “So in the group, you end up with a similar behavior in everyone.”

Seems that cockroaches are pretty good conformists, too.

The study was published online Feb. 4 in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

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