A Staff Report from the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board

Does the smell of squished cockroach attract other roaches?

November 13, 2002

Dear Straight Dope:

I am lucky enough to live in a corner of the world where there are no cockroaches (Norway), but from time to time I travel to places where the vermin can be found. When in Greece, the people at the hotel where I stayed advised me to not squash any cockroaches because crushed roaches have a smell that attracts other roaches. This meant that it would not be smart to squash one on the street, either, as the smell would stick to my shoes, and attract the roaches to my location. Is this true, or should I just go ahead and have a blast making a mess of them whenever I get the chance?

Whatever gets you off, sport. Roaches are attracted by the smell of their dead brethren only to the extent that they're attracted to the odor of ANY food source, whether it's a hot dog, spilled juice, or squashed roach. It would only be interesting if roaches were more attracted to dead roaches than to any other available food source. You're more likely to attract roaches to your feet if you step in someone's discarded McShake than you are if you have recently squished a roach.

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