Tuesday, June 10, 2008


I have a long and complex emotional history with cockroaches.
Actually, my history with the creepy-crawly parts of the animal kingdom has generally been pretty friendly. My father, an amateur naturalist, loved showing me the local "wildlife" that ran around our neighborhood. Thanks to him, I was never afraid of snakes, frogs, lizards, bats, toads, and most insects. The problem was more that my mother objected to my bringing the objects of scientific study inside the house for further examination. If I wanted to run around playing with beetles and spiders that was my business, but I'd damn well better not bring them into the living room.
When I was in high school I became a volunteer at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) and was happily assigned to the biological sciences hall. One of my major duties was staffing the "bug cart": a mobile science unit that housed many of our arthropod exhibits including walking sticks (both Malaysian and Australian Giant Prickly), tarantulas, black widow spiders, wood beetles, and my personal favorites, Giant Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches. From almost the first, the cockroaches were some of my most beloved animals. They were quiet, clean, charming, friendly, and endearing creatures to whom humans were some kind of large and benevolent fruit-bearing gods. Raised entirely in the aquariums of OMSI, they were sheltered but goodhearted insects. Our biggest problem with them was that since they were giant, hissing cockroaches, all the kids wanted to hear them hiss. Unfortunately, the hissing sound is part of a defense mechanism, and they won't make the noise unless they feel threatened. And why should they feel threatened by the lovely fruit-bearing gods? The only time I ever heard one his was when a kid maliciously dropped one - the poor thing was scared out of it's nervous system! I never had any qualms about handling them, and a surprising number of visitors were also willing to touch or hold them.
But you see, they don't fly.
A week ago, in the bathroom of my one-room I saw the most gigantic oriental cockroach. I mean HUGE, maybe 8-10cm. And those suckers, my dears, FLY. They also eat refuse and rot and leave trails of their own droppings like Hansel and Gretel left crumbs. In other words, nasty, dirty things that I don't mind outside, but don't suffer inside. My apartment is gifted with instant, blisteringly hot water that gushes out as if from a fire hydrant, which is how this one particular specimen met his/her doom. One part of me wanted to assume that it was a lone case, driven indoors by the beginnings of the 장마. The other part of me was screaming that the place was infested and untold millions were lurking inside my decrepit 싱크대. The screaming side won, and a few days later I bought bait traps. Unfortunately, I think this might actually be bringing them in with the ever-so alluring fragrance of roach feed, because I saw another gigantic sucker last night. He went after the bait behind the fridge and was not seen again.
There's some kinds of house guests you mind, and some you don't. These I mind (along with centipedes and millipedes . . .why? I don't know.)
I'd rather find a more . . . natural way to dispose of them. I don't like using poisoned traps in and around the area where I live. I'd rather have something that a) won't lure them inside if they're not already here b) won't potentially harm me and c) will be kind of cute.
I want geckos!
It turns out there's a few species of lizards native to Korea, and I'd like mightily to have a few take up residence in my apartment. In particular, I'd like the native Gekko japonicus to start hanging out in my place. Somehow, having geckos run all over my kitchen doesn't bother me in the least. In Hawaii, they're sort of tolerated as indoor wildlife, because they eat other pests. If the Hawaiians are cool with it, so am I.
God bless Google. I done stole that roach pic from here

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