Cockroach breeding for medicinal and cosmetic purposes has become one of the fastest-growing (and some might say grossest) industries in China, but no one is likely as passionate about breeding the critters as one Yuan Meixia, a woman from Guangdong province who’s become a local celebrity for raising over 100,000 cockroaches so dedicatedly that she says they’re “like my children”.
Yuan tends to her cockroaches in an old house located near the woods in her village, People Daily reports, and caters to their described sweet-tooth: “What you usually seen is called ‘Blattella germanica’, but what I have been feeding is called ‘Periplaneta americana’. They like to eat starch and sweet foods.”
Cockroaches are fed with Hami melon
The ceilings and walls of her cockroach base are blocked off by concrete. Under scorching weather, Yuan waters the walls to cool down the temperature, and when it’s too cold, she lights a fire on the stove to heat up the room. “They are most active in the evenings,” she said of her beloved roaches. “They look for food to eat and mate”.
Yuan feeds the roaches and separates larvae from adults, then puts the two types in boxes and wooden board mezzanines at 6 p.m. every day. According to Yuan, the cockroaches start mating after eating, and the male cockroaches die after mating.
The 37-year-old breeder also works as a pharmacy clerk. “Last year I watched a CCTV program reporting that some people in Anhui province were consuming cockroach for medicinal purposes. I spent thousands of yuan learning how to feed cockroaches there for a week. I also spent 10,000 Yuan on 20 jin of cockroach eggs to breed. Now I have 100,000 cockroaches. Raising cockroaches is my second job,” she told reporters.
When cockroaches grow up, Yuan drowns the adults in a stainless steel bucket, dries them, packs them into plastic bags, and finally sells them to a pharmaceutical factory in Anhui. Yuan said that dried Periplaneta americana, specifically, have anticancer medicinal value. The roaches sell for 300 to 400 yuan per jin (about 0.5kg), and in two months, she can produce 10 to 20 jin of dried cockroaches.
”These are all my children, my babies,” she said to a Southern Metropolis News reporter on a tour of the breeding facility. ”Like children, they need sufficient nutrition”.
By Lucy Liu