Cockroaches: Dimwits in the Morning, Geniuses at Night

rasyiqi By rasyiqi - Writer, Digital Marketer
8 Min Read
Kecoa: Bodoh di Pagi Hari, Jenius di Malam Hari
Kecoa: Bodoh di Pagi Hari, Jenius di Malam Hari

jlk – Have you ever thought of cockroaches as dumb and repulsive creatures? If so, you might be surprised to learn that cockroaches actually possess remarkable learning abilities, depending on the time of day. Yes, you read that right. Cockroaches are morons in the morning and geniuses at night.

This discovery was made by biologists from Vanderbilt University who conducted a study on the influence of biological clocks on the learning abilities of cockroaches.

The study was published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“This is the first example of an insect whose learning ability is controlled by its biological clock,” said Terry L. Page, a professor of biology who led the project. Bachelor students Susan Decker and Shannon McConnaughey also participated in the study.

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In this study, researchers taught individual cockroaches to associate peppermint—an aroma they typically find slightly unpleasant—with sugar water, making them prefer it over vanilla, a scent they universally find attractive.

The researchers trained individual cockroaches at different times in the 24-hour day/night cycle and then tested them to see how long they remembered the association.

They found that cockroaches trained at night retained the memory for several days. Cockroaches trained in the evening also had good memory retention.

However, in the morning, when cockroaches are least active, they were completely unable to form new memories, although they could recall memories learned at other times.

“It is very surprising that the deficit in the morning is so profound,” said Page. “An interesting question is why the animal doesn’t want to learn at certain times of the day. We don’t know.”

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This study used cockroaches from the species Leucophaea maderae. This species has no common name but is often used in scientific experiments because it is widely used in early physiological and endocrinological studies.

The discovery that cockroach memory is strongly influenced by their biological clocks opens up new opportunities for further study of the molecular basis of interactions between biological clocks and memory and learning in general.

Why Do Cockroaches Learn Better at Night?

One possible hypothesis explaining this phenomenon is that cockroaches learn better at night because it is when they are most active and foraging for food. Thus, they may be more receptive to associating new smells with tasty food.

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On the other hand, in the morning, they may be more focused on hiding from predators and light, so they are not interested in learning new things.

Another hypothesis is that cockroaches learn better at night because their nervous system is more sensitive and responsive at that time. Biological clocks may regulate the activity of nerve cells and neurotransmitters involved in the learning and memory processes.

For example, dopamine, a brain chemical involved in motivation and pleasure, may be at higher levels at night, thereby enhancing cockroach learning abilities.

What Can We Learn from Cockroaches?

Although cockroaches may not be our favorite animals, we can learn a lot from them, especially about the importance of biological clocks in regulating our cognitive functions. Some studies done with mammals have shown that their learning abilities also vary with the time of day.

For example, an experiment with humans found that people’s ability to acquire new information decreases when their biological clocks are disrupted, especially at certain times of the day.

Similarly, some studies on learning and memory with mice found that this process is modulated by their circadian clocks. One study on mice linked jet lag to retrograde amnesia.

Therefore, we may need to pay attention to the best time to learn something new, depending on our body’s rhythms.

Some people may be smarter in the morning, and others may be smarter at night, like cockroaches.

The important thing is not to disturb our biological clocks with irregular sleep patterns, excessive light exposure, or jet lag.

How to Keep Cockroaches Away from Your Home?

After reading this article, you may feel more respect for cockroaches as intelligent and adaptive animals.

However, that doesn’t mean you want them to stay in your home. Cockroaches can be annoying and dangerous pests, as they can spread diseases, contaminate food, and cause allergies.

Here are some tips to keep cockroaches away from your home:

Clean your home regularly and dispose of garbage properly. Cockroaches thrive in dirty and cluttered places, where they can find food sources and hiding spots.

Seal cracks and crevices in walls, floors, and ceilings. Cockroaches can enter your home through small holes and hide in dark and damp places.

Use traps, baits, or poisons to kill or capture cockroaches. You can buy these products at stores or make your own using natural ingredients like baking soda, sugar, and borax.

Use sprays, powders, or gels to prevent cockroaches from entering your home. You can spray or sprinkle these products around doors, windows, pipes, and other places where cockroaches may enter or exit.

Seek professional help if you have a severe or difficult-to-control cockroach infestation. Don’t let cockroaches breed and spread in your home, as they can pose a serious threat to your health and comfort.


Cockroaches are interesting and amazing animals, with learning abilities that vary with the time of day. Cockroaches are morons in the morning and geniuses at night because their biological clocks influence their learning and memory processes.

We can learn a lot from cockroaches about the importance of biological clocks in regulating our cognitive functions and how to optimize our learning time.

However, we also need to be cautious with cockroaches as potentially harmful pests, and take preventive and control measures to keep them out of our homes.

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