Calif. College Uses Cockroaches As Lure
UC Riverside is using a cockroach petting zoo to attract students and parents to an upcoming recruitment fair. The zoo will include several species, including cockroaches that emit a foul, ammonia-like scent and the famous, palm-sized Madagascar hissing cockroach.
Also in plentiful supply: rubber gloves for the squeamish.
The Nov. 3 event targets local high school students interested in careers as science teachers or engineers, said Steve Gomez, co-director of The Copernicus Project, one of two campus programs sponsoring the event.
It's the second time this year that UC Riverside, which has a well-respected entomology department, has used the cockroach zoo to entice potential recruits.
"Everybody gets grossed out at first," Gomez said. "But then they find out what uses they have in agriculture, like pest elimination."
Gomez said he held the giant Madagascar hissing roach in May and it nearly covered his palm. The bugs seem to enjoy being held, he said.
"I'm not a big cockroach fan," he said. "I held it for about five seconds and I gladly gave it back."
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