Without further lame excuses: cock-a-roaches!
In North America cockroaches immediately bring to mind pestilence, poverty, and filth, despite their near ever-presence in NA's more southern climes. There is certainly no denying that cockroach infestations have the potential to reach health-effecting levels, as the insects are prolific breeders that are able to survive on nothing more than minor scraps of food, but even still their perceived harm is greater than the damage they are actually capable of inflicting. Some cockroach species may carry mildly harmful pathogens, but properly securing foodstuffs and cleaning living areas is generally sufficient in prevent total infestations.
There are several species of cockroach in Canada, most of which are introduced, I could go on to talk about these, and maybe I will in another post, but today I'm here to discuss the cockroach as a feeder insect, and more specifically their murky, quasi-illegal state in Canada. Vendors of the critters generally advertise under the radar, but one of the more successful vendors, Geckoboy's Geckos, has been openly selling cockroach species for at least 5 years. This contrasts what hobbyists and government sources often claim in regards to governmental control of cockroaches: that the government frequently raids collectors of illegal invertebrates. Putting aside the encompassing sweep of a few years ago for the millipede species Archispirostreptus gigas -which was pretty damned effective at nearly eliminating the species from Canadian soil- there are few specific cases of collections being taken by government enforcers.
The primary reason roaches are illegal is because of the potential danger they present in establishing a foothold upon escape or release and becoming yet another invasive pest species (introducing pests is something humans are really, really good at). There is argument among roach supporters that since the majority of roach species are either tropical or desert, they would not be able to survive in our temperate climes. This seems like a reasonable enough assertion, but cockroaches' endurance should not be underestimated; stories abound on reptile forums of roaches left in garages or on porches during our winters and re-animating when reintroduced to warmth (a fact not as crazy as it sounds, but definitely dubious if the time was for more than a few hours).
Unfortunately for roach supporters, testing out different roach species' abilities to endure harsh winters (both indoors and outdoors) is not likely high on the government's list of things to do, and until the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (which handles anything relating to a possible risk to or from an animal species or habitat) is presented with an approved study showing that common roach feeders are not a threat to environmental nor public health, roaches are going to remain a grey-market commodity.
For a pittance of info on cockroach species used as feeders, check out this earlier post.