I must apologize to roach lovers wherever you are. This story has been based on my personal experiences and my worst childhood nightmares. I am no longer afraid of roaches, and I don’t even hate them. In fact, I understand their necessary role in life on Planet Earth. I hope you understand.
These creatures, officially cockroaches (derived from the Spanish cucaracha), are insects of the order Blattodea which includes termites, the really destructive insect. Entomologists have identified over 4,600 species of cockroaches. Only 30 compete with humans for living space and only four are considered pests.
Cockroaches have existed on Earth for over 320 million years and were recorded in historical records before Marco Polo squashed one on the way to China. They probably exist on other planets in our Solar System, but we won’t know for sure until an astronaut brings one back.
Cockroaches are considered “primitive” because they don’t have sucking or chewing mouths, but, somehow, they have no trouble devouring food. They can tolerate extreme cold and extreme heat and live quite well at the North Pole, and in tropics, deserts, jungles, mountains, and canyons.
Female cockroaches produce egg cases from the tips of their abdomens in warm, moist places. Their “cute” babies emerge in 6-to-8 weeks and then grow in size with each of 13 moultings. Each female cockroach can produce 1,000 cute little babies over a one-year lifespan.
The largest cockroaches are the famous South Carolina Palmetto Water Bug which can fly but can’t swim; the Ship Roach which is sold by pet shops as fish food; and Australia’s horned Rhinoceros Roach which weighs as much as 20 U.S. pennies. These roaches are filthy, odorous pests that spread disease by leaving bacteria, feces, and body parts wherever they roam.
The smartest roaches are the German cockroaches. They have the skills to find shelter, enjoy personal relationships, recognize kinfolk, and transfer information one to another. These always-hungry roaches prefer stinky goat cheese, spilled German beer or French wine or Russian vodka or English tea, non-patent leather, unleavened bread, antique book bindings, student term papers, unlined non-glossy paper, flakes of human skin, soiled underwear, and their fellow dead or dying cockroaches.
There is hope, my itching friends. You can control cockroaches with insecticides, but first you must:
• Remove & destroy egg cases in furniture, food pantries, and children’s panties;
• Plug any crevices where the clever bugs may enter your home; and
• Quickly clean-up any spilled food.
Next Week: FDR’s Georgia Home