All our lives we live alongside bugs, earthworms in the gardens, butterflies in the spring and summer (or autumn in Mexico), ants marching along the sidewalk, June Beatles flying low among the roses and high among the trees. As a child they are mostly delightful, until we learn to be disgusted, then as an adult they burden us. When the wand of responsibility changes hand, suddenly they are a draining burden to dispose of…
Cockroaches… When I wasn’t in charge, they didn’t bother me mentally, though I did develop asthma, so perhaps even though they didn’t bother me mentally, perhaps they took some of the joy out of life (I hated mile running day at school and heading to the urgent care for a breathing treatment).
The first apartment I was responsible for had huge “American” Cockroaches… it was a pain to seal the kitchen floor, ceiling, cabinet calking, and see them in my halls, bedroom, and light fixtures. I hated it, hated the slow progress. Eventually we got an exterminator and they focused more on baits and less on caulking or prevention. We got the cockroaches with an almost bare apartment so I didn’t feel bad about the organization or house cleaning, they are just rampant in that city and that apartment so for them to wander down the wall or wander inside from the garden would be all too easy.
I noticed people in the same city who had their houses under control, they took care of the pests ASAP when they started, and they used poison of some kind.
I had a long lull with no cockroaches in my life when I moved out of that apartment, recently we got “German” Cockroaches, when I found out I got two baits from Home Depot put some diatomaceous earth in the office (where they are the most) and am still waiting to be completely rid of them.
I read a really informative article about them and learned a few new things:
1. “Like most insect (and rodent) pests, German cockroaches need to have two sides of their body being touched at all times; this behavioral phenomenon is called thigmotaxis.”– Dr. Kathy Heinsohn, B.C.E “The Importance of German Cockroach Baiting“
I had already noticed that these German Cockroaches like to walk in between the baseboard and the floor (but not my American Cockroaches that walked all over the middle of the hallway and side walk… boldly and confidently sharing the sidewalks of Santa Ana rather than walking through the gutters), but I didn’t really consider that when I placed the bait stations I wasn’t putting them against the edges that would allow these German Cockroaches to feel secure eating from these poison bait stations.
2. “On average, a new ootheca (egg case) is produced every month, and contains between 32 and 48 embryos. To illustrate just how prolific she can be, consider this: Assuming that half of the embryos were female in each case each time, and that they would each go on to successfully reproduce 48 embryos at the end of the next month, and so on, for a year, there would be approximately 1,500,000,000,000,000 female cockroaches in one year from just that one original female.”– Dr. Kathy Heinsohn, B.C.E “The Importance of German Cockroach Baiting”
That really is a lot, but I was actually worried that they had 200-500 offspring each time. I noticed a generation of babies growing up and I was stressed that I had at least 500 to kill, but since this is the first or second month it might be much less than I was worried about. 1.5 quadrillion grandkids each cockroach…
3. “Adult females tend to remain in the harborage (dark, warm, secluded areas) 75 percent of their lives when carrying an ootheca; and they do not stray far from the cracks and crevices once their nymphs hatch.”– Dr. Kathy Heinsohn, B.C.E “The Importance of German Cockroach Baiting”
At this point I felt a bit like I was in Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis” as I am an adult female who due to shelter in place and having two small children have been remaining in harborage at least 75 percent of my recent life when caring for my nymphs…, children. America in general downgraded to China like first amendment rights (in Hawaii the first amendment was legally suspended, it will never happen in America? It did, it is, it still is.) and in my area German Cockroach life quality. But things are really looking up for things getting back to normal and I know in other states things have been less concentration campy. Hopefully the pandemic and the cockroaches in my house will both fade to a memory soon.
4. “If we think of food, water and harborage as a three-legged stool, and we remove one of these legs, the population will be stressed, and any efforts we make at control will be more successful.”– Dr. Kathy Heinsohn, B.C.E “The Importance of German Cockroach Baiting” – Dr. Kathy Heinsohn, B.C.E
So I was thinking what conditions give us humans comfort, our version of thigmotaxis, perhaps success, perhaps meaning, or maybe goals and hope?
And what are our requirements to be happy, it’s more than food, water and harborage I learned this past year. Most of us were able to retain our food, water and harborage, but not much more, and I think most of us were honestly markedly unhappy with the situation.
Yes we want food, water and harborage for survival, but what we need to thrive and be happy seems to be something else entirely. What are those slippery higher requirements for life balance?
Perhaps flow (balance of challenge but not overwhelming struggle), perhaps elegance (where life isn’t overwhelmingly visually or auditorily noisy), perhaps satisfaction?
It may be that we enjoy goals more than success, it may be that we need meaning even if it is invented and ascribed, it may be that we need flow, and elegance, and satisfaction to keep our souls from slowly dying.