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The image that floats to consciousness at mention of the word cockroach is one based on experience. For most people, it is the insect encountered in the sink during a midnight foray into the kitchen, or the one that is pinned splay legged on a wax tray in entomology class. While these domestic pests and lab "rats" do possess a certain subtle beauty, they are rather pedestrian in appearance when compared to the exuberance of design and color that characterizes insects such as beetles and butterflies. Nonetheless, these dozen or so familiar cockroaches constitute a half percent or less of described species and can be rather poor ambassadors for the group as a whole. Our goal in this chapter, and indeed, the book, is not only to point out some rather extraordinary features of the cockroaches with which we are already acquainted but to expand the narrow image of the group. Here we address their outward appearance, the externally visible morphological features, and how their environment helps shape them.

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