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Update: RoboRoach—There’s NOT an App for That

Written by Alisa Mullins | January 9, 2014

Update: Following Apple’s rejection of the RoboRoach app, Google confirmed to us that the app is also no longer in the Google Play store. Hopefully, this means the end of this sadistic app!

Last update posted on December 4, 2013:

Update: PETA has confirmed with Apple that the sadistic Roboroach iOS app that was submitted for review at the App Store has been rejected. Good for Apple! Now let’s hope Google makes the same correct decision when the Android app to control mutilated cockroaches is sent for review.

Originally posted on October 29, 2013:

Pulling the wings off flies—it’s the textbook example of sadism. But not only is a Michigan-based company called Backyard Brains encouraging kids to torture bugs, it’s also upping the ante by selling kits that turn bullying into a high-tech “experiment.”



The company’s RoboRoach kits instruct kids to “anesthetize” a live cockroach by dousing him or her with ice water; sand the animal’s thorax (yes, you read that right), use a needle to puncture it, and superglue an electrode connector to it; cut off most of the roach’s antennae and superglue electrodes to the stubs; and use a hot glue gun to attach a battery pack to the roach’s back, all so that kids can control the animal’s movements via a smartphone app. The product works only for a few days, but the electrodes are permanently attached, and Backyard Brains offers only vague instructions about “retir[ing] the cockroach to your breeder colony.”

Wired calls RoboRoach “a serious potential upgrade for those kids that love to burn ants with a magnifying glass in summer—and an ethics-free lesson in mind control for the pursuit of entertainment.” PETA calls it “cruel” and has submitted a complaint to the Michigan attorney general and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs about the unauthorized practice of veterinary medicine (performing surgery on cockroaches), which is a felony, and instructing children to commit this crime, too. We’ve also contacted the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development about Backyard Brains’ offering live cockroaches for sale and shipment without the required permit.

Studies indicate that not only do cockroaches experience pain, they also have complex memory, learning, and spatial awareness. In one study, researchers used computer simulations to show that insect brains have enough neural circuits to possess consciousness, and insects may even be able to count.

Cockroaches are also very social—they live together in closely bonded groups, can recognize individual members of their family, and make collective decisions that will benefit the entire cockroach clan. A study by scientists at Queen Mary University of London found that cockroaches “talk” to one another and prefer to dine in groups.

Not only is RoboRoach harmul to roaches, it’s potentially harmful to the cyborgs’ handlers. It could desensitize them to the feelings of those who are weaker than they are. One might just as well call it a “bully starter kit.”

Commenting is closed.
  • John says:

    how could someone do something so terrible!!!!!!!

  • maggie a says:

    This isn’t humanity Deborah, its robots doing this, robotic programming from violent TV and video games. One step nearer to learning our children to wage war on people. Get them whilst they are young! Awful. That’s why even Lego has a whole suite of Lego based on war and violence.

  • OMG I thought this surely can’t be real! Humanity amazes me every single day! This is sick and twisted! Is this how they want our next generation to behave! What chance have any of us got! Hell on Earth!

  • Joyce says:

    I’m not a bug lover, but this is plain torture of lesser animals.
    We definitely should not be teaching children how to torture and experiment on lesser
    animals, so they can next torture and experiment on cats, dogs, horses, monkeys, bears,
    lions whales, etc. Then next, torture and experiment on humans. With the end result of killing.
    And it has been proven that those that abuse and torture animals are likely to next have humans as their victims.
    This is just a MAJOR MISTAKE!!! I don’t want to know whoever dreamed this stupid idea up. I’m sure, experimenting on animals is against some law.
    This is past bullying 101! It more than desensitizes children to the feelings of those that are weaker than they are. It teaches torture and the probable end result of killing!
    The creators of this and those that participate are psychopaths.

  • Barbara Hoskin says:

    The sickness of the human race never ceases to amaze me. Every living thing deserves to be free from suffering. Insects might be small but they still feel. I don’t want children growing up to think sadism is acceptable to certain species.

  • Jacqueline Martinez says:

    I just witnessed this whole process and I am BEYOND upset with this. To think this is being allowed to happen at school. I just cannot process how people can do this. I am so glad I am now living a vegan life style and am now more at peace with myself and all living creatures ; if only others would do the same.