Cockroach Milk: Yes. You Read That Right : The Salt Turns out, cockroach milk is among the most nutritious substances on Earth. But it may still be a while before you can scurry to health stores for roach-milk protein shakes.

Cockroach Milk: Yes. You Read That Right

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Is there a time in the future when the voice of a barista might ring out, latte with cockroach milk? Pour a cup of coffee while we tell you about the female Pacific beetle cockroach. She does not lay eggs like most insects. She gives birth to live babies.

BARBARA STAY: It's a delightful little cockroach, not the kind that runs in sewers and is a pest in kitchens and bakeries.

SIMON: That's Barbara Stay. She was working in a lab at the University of Iowa when she discovered that Pacific cockroach beetle embryos take in food from their mother.

STAY: What they were drinking that was being produced by the food sack - by the uterus, essentially, of the mother - was a liquid substances that they were sucking in. But in the gut, crystals formed. And so it was after I discovered they were drinking it that I saw these crystals in the gut.

SIMON: Another researcher, Professor Subramanian Ramaswamy in Bangalore, India, took a closer look at those crystals.

SUBRAMANIAN RAMASWAMY: It turns out that weight by weight, this is three times more calorific value than, say, buffalo milk.

SIMON: That's three times richer in calories than buffalo milk. One scientist apparently took a taste of the yellowish substance and found it tasted like nothing. So you could, in theory, splash it into coffee or pour it over cornflakes. So could a competitive health food market that already stocks cow, goat, almond, soy, cashew, hemp, rice and coconut milk now see cockroach milk as the next superfood?

RAMASWAMY: In principle, it's a protein coming from a living organism, so in principle it should be fine. But today, there is no evidence that it is actually safe for human consumption.

SIMON: What a relief. Cockroaches must be hard to milk anyway.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.