Cockroach farming is big business in China

Dried and ground cockroach bits have become ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine.

Dried cockroach bits have joined the ranks of seahorse, turtle shell, rhinoceros horn and yes, tiger penis, as a valuable ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine.

But unlike its endangered species counterparts, cockroaches are easier to find—and farm. Keeping them contained is a bit trickier as the residents in Dafeng, a town in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu recently discovered.

Last week, at least one million cockroaches escaped a farm in China where they were being bred for use in traditional medicine reported Xinhua News Agency's news unit Modern Express (Chinese). According to the report, an unknown person sabotaged the cockroach farm.

The farm's owner Wang Peng-sheng invested more than 200,000 yuan (or about $32,000) in an initial batch of Periplaneta americana eggs.

The business is apparently a lucrative one with cockroaches commanding 400 yuan per kilogram, or about $65, according to a Sichuan Daily report on another cockroach farmer. Some reports found cockroaches could earn as much as 1200 yuan per kilogram ($196).

Why so expensive? Cockroach products are used to treat a variety of ailments, including cirrohosis, and they're even used in facial beauty masks.

Photo: Flickr user Steve Snodgrass

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