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Cockroach Milk (SCAM or TRUE?)

Science keeps us amazed, with discoveries popping up every day. The globe surfaced with news about discovering a new type of milk quite different from regular cow milk in many aspects.

You will be astonished to hear that the source of milk is a female cockroach! Yes, you heard it right; it’s cockroach milk.

Cockroach milk is a crystalline substance with a high nutritional value and carries all the essential amino acids needed by humans, and is thus considered a superfood. Cockroach milk is produced by specific birth-giving cockroaches Diploptera punctate (Reference).

Unfortunately, despite its popularity harvesting the milk is complex and requires killing a thousand cockroaches to get only a hundred grams of cockroach milk from their gut.

The human body needs a constant supply of proteins to maintain its structural and functional integrity. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and the human body is capable of producing 11 types of amino acids within its body. These amino acids are called non-essential amino acids.

On the other hand, there are nine amino acids that humans can’t synthesize; therefore, they must be outsourced in food, hence called essential amino acids.

The world is going crazy over cockroach milk because, unlike regular cow milk, which contains a limited number of essential amino acids, cockroach milk contains all nine essential amino acids at once (Reference).

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What Is Cockroach Milk

There are three types of cockroaches based on the way they reproduce,

  1. Oviparous, which produces offspring from hatched eggs outside the body. It includes German, American, Australian, Oriental, Smokey Brown, and others
  2. Ovoviviparous in which Eggs hatch inside the body and give birth to live babies. It includes Discoid, Dubia and Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches.
  3. Viviparous give birth to live babies without an egg involved, just like mammals. It includes the Surinam cockroach, the greenhouse cockroach, and Diploptera punctata.

Interestingly, the Diploptera Puncata, the milk-producing cockroach, belongs to a viviparous group of roaches. Like mammals, once the cockroach gives birth to live babies, it produces a crystalline substance inside its gut that the baby roaches feed on.

Once the scientists analyzed these crystalline substances, they were amazed that crystals had a similar sequence as regular milk with three times higher nutritional properties than cow’s milk (Reference).

Scientists found that roach milk contains all the nine essential amino acids human bodies need for further evaluation.

Discovery of Cockroach Milk

You will be amazed to know that the discovery of cockroach milk is not new. The first paper published in the journal of Insect Biochemistry about the composition of roach milk dates back to 1977.

However, a paper finding the sequence of genes that produced the milk was published in 2004 by Anna Williford et al. The study showed the cockroach contains Twenty-five distinct Milk complementary DNAs and is partially characterized.

We know from these studies that the discovery of cockroach milk is not new, but still, we haven’t seen any commercially available cockroach milk, and we will not be seeing it anytime soon.

How is Cockroach Milk Similar to Regular Cow Milk?

Cartoon diagram of the cockroach milk crystal (L), Cow milk fat globule under SEM (R)
Cartoon diagram of the cockroach milk crystal (L), Cow milk fat globule under SEM (R)

The cockroach milk tastes similar to regular cow milk, except it’s more creamy with a more rich taste.

It is essential to know that cockroach milk must be humanized by adding water to it before its ready for human consumption. This is because cockroach milk is not like a typical liquid cow milk. Instead, it’s taken from the gut of cockroaches in a crystalline form.

The fat globule of cow and cockroach milk appears similar when viewed through a microscope and has similar chemistry.

What makes Cockroach Milk Different from regular Cow Milk?

A polarised microscope image shows the difference between the crystals of a cow (R) and cockroach milk (L). Cockroach milk crystals are square-shaped whereas cow milk crystals are pentagonal bi pyramidal.
A polarised microscope image shows the difference between the crystals of a cow (R) and cockroach milk (L)

Cockroach milk is different from cow milk at the physical and microscopic levels.

Under polarised microscopy, the cockroach milk crystals appear cuboidal to rhomboid in shape, whereas the cow milk has a pentagonal bipyramidal shape.

The cockroach milk is lactose-free, so lactose-intolerant people do not have to worry while consuming it.

Cockroach milk has more nutritional value than cow milk and contains nine essential amino acids.

ConstituentsCow MilkCockroach milk
Carbs4.7% Lactose25% Mannose
Amino Acids3.3%5%
Vitamins280 microgram/LNo data Available
Minerals0.7%No data Available
Calcium1.1g/lNo data Available
ExtraOleic acid, Linoleic acid, Omega-3 fatty acids
Cockroach Milk Vs. Cow Milk

Cockroach milk, when in liquid form, has a yellowish creamy/buttery color, whereas cow milk has a usually white milky color

Is cockroach Milk Worth It?

No doubt! Cockroach milk is an excellent alternate non-dairy food with high calories for patients with lactose intolerance. Furthermore, cancer patients suffering from extreme weight loss (Cachexia) can also benefit from cockroach milk.

However, many ethical concerns surround the consumption of cockroach milk because we need to kill a lot of cockroaches just for a few grams of milk.

Moreover, there are no data or FDA approvals on the safety surrounding the consumption of cockroach milk. In addition, we do not have enough expertise to produce many cockroach milks capable of meeting the market demand.

Let’s hope for the best, stay positive and see what the future brings!