How to Desiccate a Cockroach

Early Wednesday morning I was disappointed to find, relaxing on the white rug in our living room, a big cockroach.

Short on time, I dropped a pyrex bowl on top of him, slid some paper under and walked him outside. I had to get to work, but I wanted to examine him later to figure out just how many exterminators we should call.

Tragically, he died.

The spot where I left him must have been struck by direct sunlight and he was baked.

When I returned from work, water had condensed on the inside of the bowl. A lot of water.

I cut a little square of paper towel and set it on a scale. With the dry paper towel on the scale, I zeroed it out.

Next I wiped out the inside of the bowl. Hopefully the paper towel now held most of the water from the cockroach.

The white paper on the ground had also absorbed some moisture, but I didn't bother to weigh that.

The paper towel had gained 0.6 grams.

I reset the scale and weighed the remaining husk.

It was only 0.2 grams!

I was amazed. I know that humans are 80% water, but I had always considered insects to be hard inside and out, like little machines.

I had never considered that regular insects had that much water inside...and I definitely didn't realize you could distill them.


Epilogue: We don't have cockroaches in our house. This was a rogue American cockroach. They typically are born outside and must have been brought inside.

There are some concerns (voiced on Reddit) that the roach wasn't in a closed system, and that the water could have come from the air in the bowl or the cement below. Hopefully an additional test will verify or discount these concerns.

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