NJPMA Prepares for 19th Annual Cockroach Derby

NJPMA Prepares for 19th Annual Cockroach Derby

This year's derby features the Trump cockroach vs. the Clinton cockroach. Past events have been used to predict election results with 84 percent accuracy.

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August 17, 2016

LIVINGSTON, N.J. — The New Jersey Pest Management Association is making final preparations for tomorrow’s “Cockroach Derby,” one of the highlights of the annual NJPMA clinic, trade show and clambake. Now in its 18th year, this lunch-hour race offers a fun diversion for the more than 500 pest management professionals attending a full-day of educational seminars led by leading pest management experts. 

Here’s a look at details for this year’s event. 

Race Participants. Fortunately, the cockroaches used on the race are not indigenous to New Jersey. The Madagascar Hissing Cockroach is selected because of their big size (about 2.5 inches long) and their ability to respond to race stimuli. The hissing name is apt due to the signature sound made by drawing air into its body and then forcing it through air ports on the sides of its body — a hissing sound that resembles a 1951 Buick Super, according to C. Douglass Mampe, Ph. D., a long-time pest control consultant and advisor to NJPMA.

Race History. The 2016 race will be held on Thursday, August 18 during the noon lunch break. Past events have been used to predict election results with 84 percent accuracy. There have been some controversies. In the Clinton vs. Bush cockroach derby, for example, the Bush cockroach had to be disqualified since it took flight and was last seen veering off to the right. In the Bush vs. Gore race, the Gore cockroach appeared to have won by barely an antennae’s length, but little did we know at the time that it would mirror the actual election process — obviously, the cockroaches were as confused about the Electoral College process and dangling chads as was the American public!

Nature’s Ability to Predict. Mankind has long relied on signals from the insect and animal kingdoms to predict weather. Some observe the hair thickness of the wooly worm to predict the severity of winter while others rely on the groundhog’s shadow to determine the end of winter. Pest control professionals know that you can estimate the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit by counting the number of times a cricket chirps in 15 seconds and then adding 37. In the book “Butterfly Economics” the author models behavior of an ant colony to the business cycle of the last several decades to find a resemblance in similar fluctuations. The author claims he is able to use a model of ants to reproduce the pattern of growth that has occurred in the West with greater accuracy than any other economic model.

So, can cockroaches predict an election or anything else? We’ll have to see. We do have scientific evidence that most people prefer not to eat in a restaurant that is frequented by cockroaches!