Friday, July 20, 2012

Close Encounters of the Roach Kind


One insect that invades homes has probably set more women to screaming and more children to sobbing without actually harming them than any other: The American Cockroach, often referred to as simply the roach.

Despite its name, the American Cockroach is not native to the United States of America. It originally invaded the shores of America by stowing away on ships from Africa, colonizing the southern part of the United States less than two centuries after the earliest human colonists came from Europe.

In its new habitat, it thrived, becoming a pest that creeps into houses to search for food and sometimes even swarms in large numbers in the dark places of a house. Today, it yet lurks in houses, usually roaming about after nightfall, bringing terror to many.

What is it about this insect that frightens people so? It doesn’t have fangs like a spider. It doesn’t have a stinger like a wasp or a scorpion. It can't spray a foul-smelling odor like a stink bug. What it does have are its relatively large size, its strangely hideous looks, and its apparent fascination with tormenting humans.

Where roaches are numerous, it is not uncommon for them to appear to attack humans by flying and landing on them, running up their legs, dropping from the ceiling into their hair, diving into their cups, or crawling on their faces as they sleep. Roaches assault people so regularly that it seems as if they take devilish delight in this contact.

Roaches also perpetrate other dark deeds. Sometimes roaches make eery scratching noises as they crawl about, which might bring to mind the sounds in a supposedly haunted house. Sometimes they cause a foul odor to fill a part of a house. Sometimes they spread diseases as they roam.


Defensive measures are taken against these domestic scavengers by exterminators who spray poison and homeowners who put out roach traps. Yet roaches still often manage to establish themselves in houses and other buildings, and continually prove hard to get rid of.

While insect spray from cans will kill them, perhaps the most common method of using lethal force against the invaders is to crush them with a shoe, sometimes while the shoe is being worn, and other times while the shoe is held in a hand. This method, while quite messy if the roach explodes, can be done with delicacy so that there is little mess to clean up afterwards.

However, since roaches are notoriously hard to kill, it may be preferable to flush such delicately smashed roaches down the toilet rather than tossing them into the trash. Often the water revives a wounded or merely stunned roach and causes it to swim desperately until sucked into the vortex of death. Had the roach been tossed into the trash, it might have awakened and crawled out to terrify a second time.

Some people have wilder methods of killing roaches than smashing them, and turn it into a sort of hunt: Rubber band guns can be used to take out roaches if the shooter is accurate. If one wanted to get really creative, a grasshopper mouse could be unleashed, since this ruthless rodent likes munching on roaches.

The roach has supposedly been around for 350 million years, and in spite of all the attempts to eradicate it, it is still thriving. This infamous insect is certain to terrify, disgust, and be violently slaughtered for years to come.

Have you ever had a close encounter of the roach kind?


(c) 2012 Jonathan Garner

21 comments:

  1. Roaches are disgusting. *shivers* I have a better method of killing them... let one of my brothers "deal with" them. ;)

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    1. That works, Grace. ;) What method do your brothers use?

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  2. Thankfully, I have not yet met a live roach. But I suspect I will, someday...

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    1. If y'all travel on the Gulf Coast, you probably will eventually. :D

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    2. SOON!!! MUAHHAHAAHHAHHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!! 8-O

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  3. Okay, if I dream about this, you're in trouble, Jonathan! :) Seriously, at youth camp many years ago, there was a roach on my bunkbed. I blew it with the hair dryer and then screamed hysterically as it flew toward me against the flow of air!

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    1. Apparently roaches are strong fliers. ;)

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  4. You make them sound like the stuff of horror movies! o.O I'm not sure I've ever actually seen one. I'm okay with that. ;)

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    1. Sometimes they seem that way. ;) It's no loss if you've never seen one.

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  5. My sister killed one with a medical dictionary before. That's a unique method, I think.

    Great stuff, this was a highly entertaining and enlightening post.

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    1. Yes, though I imagine other people use books sometimes.

      Thank you, Michael!

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  6. I generally use a shoe to kill the rascals. ;) I've seen plenty of them, and my appreciation for their kind grows and less and less the more of them I see. ;)

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    1. Shoes are quite effective. I think that's how most people feel about them. ;)

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  7. *is shocked people have actually not seen these things *

    So I found the article hilarious, mostly because my Daddy worked in pest control for a small while whilst we still lived in California (we needed the money and my Daddy will take any job he can get in order to care for his family). Also, we had a house in Japan that we moved into (we were waiting for base housing to open up, so it was a temporary place) which was infested, and I mean infested! with roaches! Our cat at the time was an excellent roacher, though, and at night would kill dozens of them, leaving their carcasses for us to sweep up in the morning.

    Boy was I glad we were not there long. As a side effect, this is the one bug my mom can't stand because of that house. It scarred her, I suppose. :D

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    1. I've seen roach infestations, so I know exactly what you mean. :D

      Roaches seem to have that effect on people. ;)

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  8. Roaches. Are. Disgusting.
    I usually jump on them with a very heavy shoe and then use a very thick wad of paper towels to clean the mangled, broken exoskeleton and the splattered guts so I don't have to feel the shattered bone tissue pricking the epithelium encasing my carpals and metacarpals.
    That said...
    Roaches. Are. Disgusting.
    Oh wait, I already said that...

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    1. Indeed they are, Elizabeth. Nice description of their demise at your hands. ;)

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  9. A very nice description Elizabeth!

    Do any of you know why roaches are so interested in people? Could it be that they are actually like dogs, ugly, disgusting, but only trying to be friendly?

    I have only seen them in a zoo a long time ago. I was wondering why people thought they were ugly since they were so sleek, and had such a warm, rich colour.

    It is interesting that they are from Africa.

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    1. Thank you for commenting, Patrick!

      Some of my theories about why roaches are so interested in people are that roaches are drawn to humans by the smell of food, that they try to hide in humans' shadows, and that when poisoned they lose their fear of humans due to the deterioration of their brain.

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  10. Did I ever tell you we can tell apart my Mom's screams to know whether she has just seen a roach or not?

    We yell for David to kill them, most of the time. Killing bugs for girls is very chivalrous, in my opinion. * nods *

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    1. No, you hadn't told me that, Elizabeth. Thank you for commenting!

      I agree. Boys should learn how to kill roaches as part of their manly training.

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