Cockroaches: Foe or Friend

I am sure every apartment dweller has had cockroaches. They are unpleasant and hard to get rid of.

Imagine. You are eating breakfast in your kitchen nook and some bug scoots across the counter. What was it? A cockroach? Forget the environment. Kill the bug – with traps, with a book, with whatever chemical will do the job.

The trouble is, cockroaches have been around the earth longer than you have and they will probably be around after you are gone. They seem to be indestructible.

What are cockroaches anyway? They date back to prehistoric times. In fact, one scientist called the Carboniferous era, “the age of cockroaches.” (Presumably they were crawling all over the place – the cockroaches not the scientists.)

Cockroaches are actually very intelligent insects who will even learn how to run a maze to get food. No wonder they can migrate amongst your jars of jam and teacups in your kitchen cupboards.

Cockroaches have also been useful to man. They make a perfect laboratory animal for some scientific experiments because they are easy to keep alive.

The three main types of cockroaches found in homes are: the American cockroach, the Common cockroach and the German cockroach. Their origins are Africa and Asia but they have migrated by ship, and now even a few travel the world by airplanes.

American cockroaches are large – from 29 mmto 40 mm and are reddish brown. Blatta orientalis or the Common cockroach is very dark brown to black. The German cockroach is a pale yellowish brown.

Do they really spread disease? Compared to rats, fleas, and locusts, cockroaches are not known tp be a major health hazard. They do eat crumbs, paper and cloth.

But cockroaches are repulsive. They run fast and will react to a puff of air. Some cockroaches have an odour – some to detract predators; some to attract to the opposite sex. (Although I can’t see “ode de cockroach” perfume being a best seller).

Cockroaches are hard to kill because they have a soft, flexible body underneath a fairly hard shell. They can hide in small crevices. And cockroaches seem to travel in packs. If you spot one, there are probably others. The time taken from egg to adult may be as little as eight weeks. The German cockroach lays 38 eggs in one egg case so cockroaches multiply rapidly.

Cockroaches have a lot in common with humans. They like food. They especially like warm moist areas, thus their attraction to kitchens and bathrooms.

How can you get rid of cockroaches? You may try traps dispersed throughout your home but this may scare away more guests than cockroaches. Some people believe Chinese chalk will get rid of cockroaches. Cats are natural predator but your cats may be finicky about their diet. You may have to resort to fumigation. This is especially the case if you live in an apartment where cockroaches may simply migrate from one apartment to the next.

If you do get fumigated, you will have to take everything out of your kitchen and bathroom cupboards. You will have to move your furniture to the center of the rooms and away from the walls. You will have to clean your closets. Be prepared to do this twice.

How can you keep cockroaches away? Try to keep your home clean and dry. Keep all food in airtight containers or in the refrigerator. Tupperware is great. Plug up all cracks and holes with putty. Some people believe that if you line your cupboards with cayenne or bay leaves, you may keep cockroaches away.

Wild stories abound about cockroaches. When one student used to get water from the kitchen, scads of cockroaches ran away when she turned on the light. A cockroach once strolled along the table while a diner was eating her salad at a restaurant. Apparently, cockroaches are the second most common object surgeons find in people’s ears.

Certainly, having cockroaches reduces one’s one’s desire to cook. I suppose you could keep the cockroaches as pets but you may not be able to get your friends to come over for brunch.

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  1. what a surprise

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