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Ciaran Dunsdon

“Roach motel” is usually a derogatory term. Not for Wang Fuming, the world’s No. 1 cockroach farmer, who plays bellhop to millions of cockroaches, arguably the creepiest insect ever. The L.A. Times profiles Fuming in a piece that’s both terrifying and fascinating:

Although cockroaches evoke a visceral dread for most people, Wang looks at them fondly as his fortune — and his future.

The 43-year-old businessman is the largest cockroach producer in China (and thus probably in the world), with six farms populated by an estimated 10 million cockroaches. He sells them to producers of Asian medicine and to cosmetic companies that value the insects as a cheap source of protein as well as for the cellulose-like substance on their wings.

Roaches in makeup and medicine? Yup. Researchers are investigating whether pulverized cockroaches can treat AIDS, cancer, and even baldness.

Since Wang got into the business in 2010, the price of dried cockroaches has increased tenfold, from about $2 a pound to as much as $20, as manufacturers of traditional medicine stockpile pulverized cockroach powder.

Plus, they’re just plain pretty!

“What is disgusting about them?” Li Wanrong, Wang’s wife, asked as a roach scurried around her black leather pumps. “Look how beautiful they are. So shiny!”

Fuming almost raised pigs, but he chose roaches because the ROI was so much higher: The shudder-inducing bugs are easy to breed, feed, and kill. Sounds great, right? But before you follow suit, think of Wang Pengsheng. ONE MILLION cockroaches recently escaped from his farm. So maybe stick to pigs next time?