May 17, 2013

Regarding the May 14 Health and Science article “Care about the environment? You shouldn’t be too hard on cockroaches”:

Just because we can squish cockroaches doesn’t mean that we should. While trying to get over my own cockroach phobia [katsarida], I did research and learned that they have many admirable attributes.

Studies have shown that cockroaches can recognize individual members of their family, they live together in closely bonded groups, and they make collective decisions, about where to seek shelter, for instance, that will benefit the entire clan. They also “talk” to one another about good sources of food and prefer to dine in groups rather than alone. In other words, cockroaches, unlike many people, cooperate with and are civil to one another in order to get things done.

I still don’t want cockroaches in my house, but now if I do see one, I resist the urge to squish and humanely show Mr. Roach the front door.

Paula Moore, Portsmouth, Va.

The writer is a senior editor at the PETA Foundation.