Your Orkin man will never tell you this.
Of course, youll probably never ask him this, either.
Despite the loathing we feel for them upon sight, roaches arent all bad. The little six-legged critters serve an important ecological purpose.
After reading the News & Observer story about N.C. State University scientists seeking more effective ways to exterminate them I think it involved putting mittens on their hands so they couldnt wash up before supper I decided to see what would happen if we were to rid the planet of them.
First of all, youre not going to do that, Dr. Joseph Kunkel of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst said with a laugh Wednesday when I called him up. Weve domesticated them, welcomed them into our buildings and theyre not about to leave.
Natures garbage men
Even if you could wipe them out, he said, you shouldnt want to. Theyre part of the food web. Birds eat them, he said. There are about 3,000 species of cockroaches, and only 10 species are considered pests. They sort of clean up after us messy people. ... Theyre omnivores, so they eat plants and animal materials. So, basically, theyre (natures) garbage men.
Chill, trash collectors. He meant that in a good way.
Despite his obvious admiration for roaches, Kunkel, a biology professor, said, They are sort of dangerous. They can cause childhood asthma, so in the home, its good to somehow control them. ... Every time they shed their cuticles, the bits of cuticles go into the rug. The cuticles contain allergens that, if the children breathe them in continuously, generate an asthmatic response.
Kunkel has obviously made his living in part by studying cockroaches.
Before the government got involved, I made mine by killing them: When the man in charge of spraying my apartment complex in Atlanta for bugs was fixing to retire, he asked if I wanted to take over his business.
Boy, did I! Whether or not his stuff worked was debatable the no-named complex had more bugs in it than a building the CIA suspects of housing al-Qaeda but it was a business opportunity I couldnt pass up.
Bug killer Barry
I bought out all of his sprays and potions and his customer list, and began spraying. Everywhere and everything. Killing bugs helped me pay my way through college and kept my pantry stocked with those four-for-a-dollar boxes of macaroni with the orange-y powdered cheese.
Only years later did I realize that a great business slogan wouldve been, The other guys may bury your pests: Were cheaper and well Barrymore.
Okay, maybe it wasnt so great.
Besides, after a few months, someone from the city came aknockin and inquired whether I had a business license.
No. Days later a representative from the EPA or some government agency charged with protecting the public from numbskulls with deadly chemicals demanded to know if I were qualified to handle toxic sprays and potions.
No, again. I still think it was Preston, a schoolmate who lived in the building next door, who ratted me out because I wouldnt spray his place for free.
Anyway, thus ended my career as an exterminator. Last time I was in Atlanta, the apartment complex was still standing. All the tenants are long gone, and the roaches now have the run of the place.
Remember that, NCSU researchers. Despite your best efforts and mine, the cockroaches will be around to dance on all of our graves.