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One Million Cockroaches Escaped from a Traditional Chinese Medicine Farm

The greenhouse where the rochaes were being raised was destroyed by an unknown vandal - perhaps a neighbor not pleased about millions of cockroaches living next door

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A minimum of one million cockroaches are on the loose in Dafeng, China, after a farm where the insects were being raised was ransacked, Discovery News reports. The cockroaches were destined for use in traditional Chinese medicine recipes, but now they’re infesting the local cornfields. The greenhouse where they were being raised, Discovery reports, was destroyed by an unknown vandal— perhaps a neighbor who was not pleased about the prospect of millions of roaches living next door.

Farm owner Wang Pengsheng invested more than 100,000 yuan ($16,000) in 102 kilograms of Periplaneta americana eggs after spending six months developing a business plan, the report Friday said.

By the time the greenhouse was damaged, more than 1.5 million cockroaches had hatched and were being fed food including “fruits and biscuits” every day, Wang was quoted as saying.

What Wang imagined would be a lucrative business now has him potentially facing thousands of dollars in losses.

An emergency roach clean-up is underway, though anyone who has ever dealt with a cockroach infestation knows this is no simple task. The Diplomat reports:

Five investigators from the Jiangsu Board of Health were dispatched to the area to formulate a plan to exterminate the creepy-crawlies in a “large-scale disinfection” of the area – an unenviable task.

While most people agree that roaches are one of the most repulsive creatures on the planet, traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe the pests have healing properties, Discovery writes, including improving immunity, reducing inflammation and even treating cancer. Ground-up, wingless cockroaches are used to treat “a wide variety of blood stasis such as abdominal masses and amenorrhea, numb and swollen tongue due to blood stasis” and to renew “joints, sinews, bones, contusions, fractures and lacerations.” 

As anathema as roaches are to most humans, it is unfortunate that mashed-up cockroaches aren’t a solve-all elixir for every condition treated by traditional Chinese medicine. If they were, the world would have more rhinos, tigers and bears, and fewer six-legged pests. 

More from Smithsonian.com:

Ten Threatened and Endangered Species Used in Traditional Chinese Medicine  
As Tigers Dwindle, Poachers Turn to Lions for ‘Medicinal’ Bones 

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