Wednesday, July 16, 2003


(cock•roach),(kok¢r[omacr]ch),[Sp. cucaracha]: Any of various crawling winged insects with flat oval bodies of the order Blattaria. Many are household pests and reservoirs of disease. Common genera are Blatta, Blattella, and Periplaneta. Called also roach.

From Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary

Before you start screaming ROACH HATER observe; I do not refer to the awesome Macropanesthia Rhinoceros aka Rhino Cockroach; nor the ever so genteel Gromphadorhina Portentosa aka Madagascar Hissing Cockroach.

Rather, I’m talking about the more plebian of the species; the German, American, heck even the Chinese. Those malevolent internationals who think that Baygon aerosol insecticide is a deodorant and jeer mockingly at boric acid mixtures. The vented roofs of Caribbean housing are great for surviving the high gusts of a tropical storm but lousy at keeping out uninvited wee beasties.

No phobia this. It’s an issue of territoriality. They no longer respect the boundaries of human-insect interaction. The lizards, well, let's be frank, they're kinda cute; mosquitoes are practically family; rats, humf, there are ways to deal with them; but the roaches, relentless, disrespectful, disease carrying vermin that they are, are indestructible.
They're supposed to be nocturnal; scampering off to their dimly lit hiding places at the mere suggestion of human presence. No more, now they scuttle right up and give you the proverbial finger.

Think I’m over reacting? Well, chaw on this. Las cucarachas rarely come solo. They are carriers of everything from diarrhea to SARS. Hah, that got your attention! Chinese medical researchers suspect roaches may have carried SARS through an entire apartment block in Hong Kong infecting well over 300 people.

How pray tell have we humans managed to put a plethora of dune buggies on Mars but are apparently unable to come up with an effective strategem for killing roaches? My theory (of course I have a theory, you should know better)? The eggheads lack the necessary motivation. Some guy named Bob Murphy had the right spirit, all the way back in March of 1991; unfortunately his suggestions lacked the element of practicality.

Here's what he posted on the alt.folklore.computers newsgroup, with only minor changes:

1. Drop them into liquid nitrogen. (They stay in good shape, and are convenient for putting on peoples desks, in their mailboxes, etc.)

2. Make them dance on dry ice in a Dewar flask.

3. Drop them into concentrated sulfuric acid.

4. Drop them into boiling sodium hydroxide solution. (This process, known as saponification, is used to create soap from animal fat or plant oils. It works on roaches, too. You get nice foamy roach soap at the top.)

5. Hold them in a bunsen burner flame with a pair of tongs. (Smells awful.)

6. Put them into a flask with thionyl chloride. (Terminal chlorination reaction.)

7. Make them breathe diethyl ether; yes, the one that's an anesthetic for humans, (On the flip side, acetone vapors are an anesthetic for roaches, but kill humans.), until they wind up on their backs. Put a small (1-2 inch) puddle of dichloro-methane on the floor next to one, and shove the roach into it so that its wings solidify into a kind of glue, and you now have a live cockroach with its back welded to the floor, madly wiggling its legs. This is very upsetting to most janitors.

On second thought, maybe I'd better stick to roach motels.

5 Ninjas, 1 Kitten and a Fifth of Vodka!