Blatticomposting is a new technique that uses cockroaches to convert human food wastes into compost. Of the 4000 or so species of cockroaches, less than 15 are pests of human dwellings. These species give cockroaches overall a bad reputation; all other species of cockroach are harmless, living outdoors and feeding on leaf litter, fruit, and other organic materials. They play an important role in food chains, as many predators feed on them. In tropical areas, cockroaches play a huge role in nutrient cycles, eating wood and leaves, turning them into soil. Termites, which are actually a type of cockroach, even help prevent wildfires in scrub and desert habitats by eating dead, dried wood that collects on the ground. As the importance of cockroaches has become clearer, exploration into cockroaches for human uses has only just begun.