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story.lead_photo.caption This photo from Gregor Samsa of Stuttgart shows neo-German cockroaches lounging in his kitchen. This winter promises to be especially bad for roach infestation. Fayetteville-born Otus the Head Cat’s award-winning column of humorous fabrication appears every Saturday.

Dear Otus,


Disclaimer: Fayetteville-born Otus the Head Cat's award-winning column of 👉 humorous fabrication 👈 appears every Saturday.

Have you heard anything about a cockroach epidemic in Arkansas? I came into the kitchen last week after one of our cool nights and found roaches lounging around like they owned the place (see enclosed photo). They didn't even bother to scatter when I turned on the light. What gives?

-- Gregor Samsa,

Stuttgart

Dear Greg,

It was wholly a pleasure to hear from you and to commiserate with your predicament and to use your consternation as an opportunity to warn our fellow citizens of the approaching eusocial Blattodea winter infestation.

Indeed, winter is coming, and with it, cockroaches. Roaches with an attitude -- neo-German cockroaches.

It has been a relatively mild summer and exceedingly dry fall. That means there have not been the usual conditions necessary to reduce the cockroach numbers and they've been out there in the woods raising their little cadres of roachenkinder nymphs. That's just as they have for the past 360 million years since the Carboniferous period (Archimylacris), according to generally accepted stratigraphy.

My sources at the Elizabeth Stephens Campbell College of Entomology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock inform me that there are more than 4,600 species of the little vermin, of which 30 live around humans. But only a handful of species are considered indoor pests.

Best known in this country are the American cockroach, the Australian, the brown-banded, the Oriental and the infamous Croton bug or German cockroach.

Factoid: The Croton bug got its name because it was first found in large numbers in the Croton Waterworks system in New York. It is pale yellow to tan with two dark, roughly parallel, streaks on its pronotum running anteroposteriorly. Other roaches vary in color from light to mid-brown.

The German cockroach is much smaller but far more destructive than other species, displaying aggregation dynamics, conspecific recognition and advanced stridulation.

Your roaches were dark brown -- the dreaded neo-German brown shells. They were first discovered in Argentina following World War II. Increased use of DDT and other pesticides in Europe forced them to seek refuge in undeveloped regions of the Rio Negro district in the Patagonia region.

Neo-German males are highly selective in their propagation, selecting only the most genetically pure females, which are known to produce cases (oothecae) containing 5,000 eggs. Within 30 years they had a super roach race in Argentina, with adult males up to 3 inches long.

And they can fly. Advanced squadrons, known as luftroachen, first blitz a designated area in great swarming masses.

Next, hordes of ground forces, or roachmacht, move in to completely infest the targeted area. In this most destructive phase they have been known to attack books for the glue, open refrigerator doors and spread disease on their vile little footpads.

Finally, they set up breeding dens in warm, moist places such as kitchens and bathrooms. Before you know it, you're ankle-deep in roach frass (look it up).

Once a colony of perhaps 120,000 roaches is established, the dreaded "Death's head" squads move out and eliminate all inferior insect species in the neo-German quest for elbow room, or lebensraum. Before long, the critters are set up in deck chairs and lounging around the kitchen as if they're at the beach.

Forewarned is forearmed, Greg, and now is the time to gird your loins for the struggle.

There are several ways to fight back. First of all, as with all vermin, roaches can't abide cleanliness. You need to remove everything from your house and leave the lights on all the time. That would ensure the roaches stay out in the woods, but it may make your home a bit uncomfortable.

Or you could do like our own Mackey the Cat does: Lie on the floor in the dark and wait for them to come scuttling out of the woodwork. Then you pounce on them, hold 'em down and bite their little heads off.

Most people find this a bit distasteful, but it's efficient and Mackey seems to take great satisfaction in it.

Or you can do as I do and sleep with a can of Raid Ant & Roach Killer by your side. It's amazing what a little spritz of methylethoxyphenol methylcarbamate suspended in petroleum distillates does to their nervous systems.

Until next time, Kalaka reminds you to squash 'em like a grape.

Disclaimer

Fayetteville-born Otus the Head Cat's award-winning column of humorous fabrication

appears every Saturday. Email:

mstorey@arkansasonline.com

HomeStyle on 10/15/2016

Print Headline: Encroaching roaches run rampant as weather cools

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