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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cockroach Intuition

WASHINGTON -- As any urban dweller knows, cockroaches are wily critters with a maddening ability to survive. One of the many self-defense techniques the pesky insects use is an acute ability to sense subtle changes in air flow around them, according to new research.

Dmitry Rinberg and Hananel Davidowitz of the NEC Research Institute in Princeton, New Jersey, studied the wind-sensing system of the American cockroach, which consists of tiny hairs on two rear appendages called cerci.

Cockroaches, it turns out, are highly sensitive to slow-moving air that produces low frequencies, the researchers reported in the June 15 issue of the journal Nature.

"The first sign of an approaching predator is slow-moving air," the researchers wrote. "Thus, the insect's awareness of these properties and its ability to detect deviations from the norm ? may help it to survive."