Earth & Energy

Scientists Bring New Meaning to ‘Bug Juice’ With Nutritious Cockroach ‘Milk’

It's more than four times as nutritious as cow's milk.

Charmaine CaparasJuly 26th 2016

Cockroaches Have Milk?

It sounds a bit gross, but cockroach milk could be good for you. Scientists found that the protein crystal– or milk– located in the mid-gut of cockroaches is more than four times as nutritious as cow’s milk. Most cockroaches don’t actually produce milk, except for the Diploptera punctate, which is the only known cockroach to give birth to live young. The bug creates an insect equivalent ‘milk’ to feed its young.

Sure, it’s pretty interesting to learn that an insect might produce milk, but what’s more impressive is that a single one of these protein crystals contains more than three times the amount of energy found in an equivalent amount of buffalo milk (which is also higher in calories than dairy milk).

Image source: Science Alert
Image source: Shutterstock/chaipanya

How To Milk A Cockroach

Cockroaches have no udders to speak of so it’s not possible to ‘milk’ one in the traditional sense. To get around this minor anatomical disadvantage, scientists attempted to sequence the genes responsible for producing the milk protein crystals to see if they could somehow replicate them in the lab.

“The crystals are like a complete food – they have proteins, fats and sugars. If you look into the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids,” says researcher Sanchari Banerjee.

Not only is the milk a dense source of calories and nutrients, it’s also time released. As the protein in the milk is digested, the crystal releases more protein at an equivalent rate to continue the digestion. This research could lead to some possible solutions to the planet’s future food shortages, as well as the current regional hunger problems.

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