Wood roaches

The wood roaches are the most primitive cockroaches and belong to a single genus: Cryptocercus. They are quite elongate and are shiny dark brown to black.

• LIFE CYCLE Wood roaches live in small family groups comprising two adults and up to 20 nymphs. They tunnel through dead wood - sticking their eggs to the roof of the wooden chambers - and use special symbiotic protozoans in their gut to break down the wood cellulose into sugars. Each time nymphs molt, they eat some of the group's droppings, thus reinfecting themselves with the protozoans.

• OCCURRENCE North America and China. In dead wood in a variety of habitats.

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