In multiple regions of Earth, cockroaches developed sentience by means of a natural virus with mutagenic genes. A long time ago one such colony made its home inside a house of a scientist. The colony has lived in that house ever since. The roaches are intelligent enough to understand/learn human languages and they work as a hive mind with a big queen who acts as the synaptic nexus of the hive, she is the voice, the brain, and the breeder.

The queen (who has to be carried by her workers as she is too big to walk, just saying) finds out that the scientist will soon try to exterminate the colony.

How does she communicate with the scientist and ask for endangered species protection?

  • $\begingroup$ I know they need to be charming with humans. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 3:53
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the description of your scenario, I will now skip sleeping for fear of the nightmares I am sure to have. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 4:50
  • $\begingroup$ See the movie Joe’s Apartment. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 6:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ First they have to find out that humans are sentient. xkcd.com/638 $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 14:23
  • $\begingroup$ As tehy are smart they could help the scientist with a problem he is trying to solve. Like Good Will Hunting. $\endgroup$
    – KalleMP
    Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 20:53

4 Answers 4


The cockroaches spell out words by forming into groups to show intelligence. Isn't this kind of obvious? I feel like I saw a cartoon with a similar premise once that used this method of communication.

  • $\begingroup$ This might seem too simple to some, but this really is all that is needed. Once the cockroaches plainly demonstrate that they're intelligent, things should go smoothly from there. $\endgroup$
    – AngelPray
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 4:04
  • $\begingroup$ I wont lie,I tought about it but i guess they dont understand written language yet,We understand Egyptian hieroglyphs? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 4:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Myrmidon They don't necessarily have to spell-out words. They could create pictograms for instance. They could even simply reproduce words/letters they discover somewhere in the house without understanding the meaning. Merely showing that they can assemble themselves to copy human language, would be sufficient to demonstrate they are intelligent, atleast enough to put an end to prospective extermination and try to start a dialogue. $\endgroup$
    – AngelPray
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 4:20
  • $\begingroup$ Real life bees do a variation of this, only dancing instead of spelling. Also you probably saw roaches doing this in a movie called Joe's Apartment. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 4:51
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    $\begingroup$ If words are too complicated, they could form the shapes of ordinary household objects they have seen. Or make stick-figure animations. (Regardless of the ultimate failure in the linked example, the stick-figure drawings did prove successful in initiating communications and establishing an alphabet) $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    Commented Dec 30, 2017 at 13:36

She gets her subjects to dance to a song that the scientist would recognize.

Kinda like this: https://youtu.be/3YvaB7zwbCk

Seriously. Such a display would only take a minute and would convey much more in terms of showing intelligence than any attempt to establish a code for two-way communication.

The scientist will feel obliged to study such a bizarre and unlikely phenomenon and will halt any extermination attempt. After that, the roaches may try to establish an intermediary language with which to talk to humans.


traditionally via unattended typewriters
if you dont believe me
see don marquis website
we are wary of household cats
but alley cats
like ourselves
know adversity and prejudice
and mehitabel is my friend


In The Hephaestus Plague by Thomas Page (1973) they communicate by shaping letters with their bodies.

They would probably begin to do so after deducing the existence of a written language - which would be a difficult concept for cockroaches: something on the lines of "Humans don't use pheromones, they orient themselves via these patches of colors on the walls". They might start by forming signs like "NO ENTRY" or "DANGER" as they've observed they tend to repel humans, or "STOP" and "WALK".

Later - how much, depends on their intelligence - they would understand letters and language.

After a little negotiating, they could perhaps use touch screens or feather-key keyboards.

This would in all likelihood go on under the aegis of some black op intelligence gathering operation (or in some lone visionary scientist's backyard).

"Imagine being able to penetrate most enemy underground bunkers, most locked rooms even, without the opposition ever being able to discover our operatives. Later on we are confident on being able to release tailored toxins inside those same bunkers..."

Then, they'd find out that the opposition is already negotiating with other cockroach colonies elsewhere :-)


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