With the finding of the mutated butterflies at Japan’s nuclear disaster site and all the speculation of what other species may have been affected, it got me thinking about the lowly German roach. It has been said that if there is a nuclear war, roaches will be the only survivors. Is this truth or myth?
Well, of course, if they were at ground 0, the blast itself would kill them. But what if they survived the blast? It is said that these little critters that we chase around with a can of Raid, would inherit the earth. The myth busters put this popular belief to the test and found that about ½ the German roaches exposed to 1,000 rads (about the amount put out by the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki) were still alive 30 days after exposure! In comparison, our survival rate would be about 10 minutes! But when roaches were exposed to 100,000 rads, no roaches survived.
So will they survive a nuclear war? Perhaps! But will they be the only survivors? Believe it or not, other insects such as the fruit fly, flour beetle, and Habrobracon wasp have a much higher survival rate and have a better chance of surviving than the German roach!
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