(Photo: Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images)
Cockroaches are reviled as pests the world over, and in this, China is no exception. When a million of the critters swarmed the city of Dafeng in Jiangsu province last week, the authorities immediately undertook a large-scale disinfection to push back against the invasion.
But where China differs from much of the world is in the monetary value placed on the bug, which can sell for up $200 per kilogram in powdered form, according to Quartz. (Although, bear in mind that each bug weighs only a few grams.)
The booming market for cockroaches is due to their recent popularity as an ingredient in Chinese traditional medicine, initially as a therapy for bone tuberculosis, and later as a treatment for everything from cirrhosis to breast cancer. Some even believe the powder can have anti-aging effects.
To keep up with the demand, cockroach farms have sprung up in Yunnan, Sichuan and Dafeng, where the outbreak took place. Indeed, the million swarming cockroaches from last week were escapees from a nursery that had been vandalized by someone authorities referred to as an "unknown perpetrator."
According to Quartz, the industry currently pumps out about 900 tonnes of processed roach powder year every year, although demand is estimated at three times as much. There are even roach-breeding kits and guides for sale on Chinese websites.
Not that any of this is likely to mitigate the immediate revulsion you likely feel when you come across something like this:
(Photo: Ted & Dani Percival/Flickr)