War of the Coprophages

It’s official: we have roaches.

Up until this year, I had never seen a house roach in my life. I mean, I’d seen those giant hissing South American things in zoos and in biology class, sure, but those were kinda cool in a detached exotic pet sort of way. They were fat, sedate, and sat on leaves in neat little plastic terrariums waiting for their owner to feed them every day from a box of manufactured bug food. But no, not these bastards.

About a month ago, we found one on the kitchen wall — more than an inch long. We caught it and flushed it, then went to talk to the apartment manager about fumigation. We stalled on it, though, since it would involve not being in the apartment for while and I had concerns about residue left on our stuff that might poison the cat. We didn’t see anything else for weeks.

Then this morning happened. The boy steps in the bathroom for his morning shower and comes streaking back out with a really alarmed look on his face. Huge bug in the bathtub. So we go in the kitchen to get a jar to catch it with and find another one of the buggers drowned in the cat’s water bowl. The cat looks at it with the most confused expression, then starts mewling for her breakfast. We hastily flush both intruders before she equates bugs with breakfast. Then I pull out a new trash bag from the kitchen storage area and another one of them comes tumbling out with the bag. I shriek and then chase after it, but it scuttles away beneath the stove before I can trap it.

Now, I’m not really somebody that freaks out over most bugs. I’m a biologist, a gardener, and an all-around nature-lover. I catch and release spiders, crickets and beetles on a regular basis. I’ve been known to go out after a rain and rescue worms from the sidewalk. But roaches. Grrr. If I wanted freeloaders in my house, I would have invited my brothers over for dinner.

As I’ve said before, though, I’ve never lived in a place where this has been a problem before. We were more worried about mice and gophers in our old house, and the various run-down apartments I lived in during university were just too dry to support them, I suppose. Or they just didn’t appreciate our diet of ramen and soda, perhaps. I suspect that, apart from our attracting them with the leftovers of our improved post-graduate grocery selection, living in an older apartment complex surrounded by burbling brooks and lush foliage has provided them with a very sustainable environment.

Don’t matter, they’re going DOWN, dammit. They can skulk in the crevices until tonight, fat and glossy with smug looks on their little buggy faces. Very soon, they’ll be stone cold dead. I’m putting out coffee grounds jars smeared in vaseline tonight, and any survivors left after a week of that are going to get a parting gift of Borax-laced bait to take home to the wife and kids. And I shall laugh maniacally as I flush each little buggy carcass down the toilet. The fumigation will be a last resort, but I’m not afraid to fill out the forms if it comes to that either. I want pure genocide, plain and simple.

Be afraid, be very afraid.


  1. Well, having grown up in the Pancreas of Dixie, I’m not afraid of them, but we certainly don’t have any of those around here!

  2. They are gross and can come in the building on anything. When I use to manage a call center mail room, they were in the mailbags!

  3. I feel your pain and unfortunately tis the season for the little(not so little) buggers If you don’t want to spray in the house with the cat you can spray outside (around the perimeter)that works at our place.

  4. Eek. Good luck!

    And, ahh, Borax. Brilliant for the manufacturing of bombs and the killing of ants through chemical warfare.

  5. Eww, I hate those things! I once moved into a small apartment in Washington, D.C. where the apartment across the hall was being renovated. Roaches EVERYWHERE. In the kitchen. In the living room. When I woke up to find I had crushed one in my bed while I slept, the war was ON, baby. I didn’t have pets, and my place was small, so I went to the hardware store, stocked up on Borax, and went to work. Good luck!

  6. Last night I killed one about two inches long in my bathroom sink. It is cockroach (palmetto bug, if you live in the south and are polite) season here in Georgia, but they haven’t been too bad this year and I had forgotten how terrifying they can be. Nothing keeps them out, and I hate them.

  7. I feel about centipedes the way you feel about roaches, as they are my apartment critter de jour.

    I’ve only ever seen a live cockroach once, and that was at the apartment where I was staying when I did a season at the Stratford Festival Theatre in 2004. At first I didn’t know what the thing was – a beetle? a cricket? – then it dawned on me.

    I dropped a book on it.

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