Can You Really Train Cockroaches Like on Orange is the New Black?

In the season premiere of Orange Is the New Black, our beaten-down protagonist Piper starts off on a very wrong foot with her new bunkmates in prison—she steps on a cockroach. Not any cockroach, but Yoda, specially trained to smuggle cigarettes between cells. How real is this hypothetical cigarette transportation system?

Turns out we weren't the only weirdos wondering about cockroaches on Orange Is the New Black. Over at the New Republic, Alice Robbs has done a thorough investigation into cockroach training. There's a glimmer of reality. Maybe. "[One team] found that if they placed roaches on a hot surface—a metal sheet over boiling water—that had one cool area, the roaches would scurry around and eventually find the cold spot on the floor. After many trials, most of the roaches learned to run straight to the cool spot," writes Robbs.

But training a cockroach to navigate through prison sounds a lot more daunting. It's possible, a scientist concedes, but no one—as far as we know—has done it. Cockroaches are, not surprisingly, easily distracted by food and couldn't care less about your cigarette.

Even if this is just television, it's pretty damn good television. In case you haven't binge watched the whole second season yet, you have the whole weekend to remedy that. [Watch on Netflix]

Top image: Orange Is the New Black/Netflix