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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

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(Music up and under: horse race trumpet)

CURWOOD: And they're off!

(High squeaks; fade to music up and under)

CURWOOD: Roach rage pulls out of the pack and takes the lead. But wait, it's Priscilla, Queen of the Drains on the inside, and Guns and Roaches in hot pursuit. Okay, so it's not the Kentucky Derby, but each January thousands of fans gather in Brisbane to cheer on their favorite skulking scurriers in the annual Australia Day World Championship Race of the Cockroaches. One lucky Aussie gets to kick off the contest by dumping a bucket of the arthropods into the center of a five-meter track. The first roach to reach the edge of the circle wins $500. Cockroaches might seem unlikely thoroughbreds, but anyone who's ever chased one through the kitchen knows cockroaches rank among the world's quickest insects. A cockroach could actually outrun a cheetah if it grew to a cheetah's size. That's partly because roaches move their six legs in unison, which also explains why they can start or stop at the blink of an eye.

(Drumroll; shooting sound)

CURWOOD: Now if you can't move quite fast enough to make it to Australia for this month's cockroach race, just hang on. The Department of Entomology at Purdue University hosts its very own, very popular sprint each spring in Indiana. And for this week that's the Living on Earth Almanac. And hey, hey where's my shoe?

(Crunch! Music up and under: La Cucaracha)



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