A while back I wrote a blog about my adventures with bush cockroaches in my home. Well, it seems that I’m not the only one experiencing this phenomenon (if you can call it that?) again this year. While getting ready for work the other day, I heard a radio interview on the subject, and then found the following article about bush cockroaches which are back to torment us.
I’m sure that when Gloria Gaynor wrote the well-known song “I will survive” she had these critters in mind. Her (revised by me) lyrics make me feel so empowered to deal with these nasties: “Well, they’re back from outer space, I just walked in to find them in my living space; I should have done a bit more spraying; I should have banished them for good; If I’d have known for just one second they’d be back to bother me. Go on, now go; get out that door, just turn around now, ‘cause you’re not welcome in my home”.
Ok, enough singing. Let’s talk about why cockroaches give us the heebie-jeebies? Because after all this time and as much as I say I am not revolted by them, I just can’t deal with them. Is it those revolting feelers that twitch all the time, or is it the fact that they just sit there like their feet are stuck to the wall. Whatever the reason, it freaks me out.
I live in a leafy suburb of Cape Town and these critters have been invading my space. When I say invading, I really mean invading … I find at least one or two in my house every day. Not doing much; just stuck to the wall, waiting to shock the living daylights out of me.
My first reaction is to empty a can of insecticide (I’m on my third can for the week and it’s becoming a costly exercise) directly onto the critter until it drops to the floor with its legs wiggling in the air … and then I run like crazy just in case it’s not actually dead and decides to take revenge by flying into my hair.
Facts about bush cockroaches:
In a recent article, bush cockroaches were said to be a hybrid between a moth and a cockroach. I found hard this hard to believe, so I thought I would check this fact with our Technical Manager, Mario Pluke.
Mario says: “These critters are in fact cockroaches belonging to the Blattidae family”. (Snort – more like the Addam’s Family if you ask me, but let’s just go with Blattidae as per the experts).
He dug out his field guide to show me exactly what to look for to identify the correct type of cockroach, because, of course, there are 50 different cockroach species in the very large Blattidae Family. He confirmed that these specific cockroaches are Deropeltis erythrocephala; commonly known as ‘bush cockroaches’ and they are completely harmless. In fact, they are hailed as an environmentally friendly pest… (Yeah right! The keyword for me is ‘pest’.)
“They are not, however, the type of cockroach that we associate with living in sewerage systems or refuse areas and which invade kitchens, spreading germs and disease. Although if they found themselves in those circumstances, they could very well be the spreaders of germs too. They are (although freakishly horrifying) completely harmless and live in gardens and leafy areas”. But, I guess as they’re part of the cockroach family, so they’re ‘guilty by association’.
What to look for:
Our expert also tells me that there is a distinct difference between the male and female of the species. “Males are black and long-winged, and females are roundish in shape and wingless”. These cockroaches are very common in gardens or vegetated areas, living under stones or dry tree trunks and feed on vegetation (so nothing to do with the half-eaten sandwich left on the counter from last night!) They’ve ventured inside as the area outside has become a bit damp and they prefer dry areas.
Bush cockroaches are a seasonal pest and are common around this time of year (Spring – from September onwards).
There have been a number of articles recently saying there is an increase in their numbers, and with the change of season, they’re right on target – certainly in my neighbourhood, as I’ve seen a number of them.
They say that prevention is better than cure, and I have taken the advice of the Rentokil experts and had my external walls spray treated. Not only will this minimize cockroach activity, but also that of mosquitoes and flies.
We all love spring and can’t wait to get out and go adventuring. My message to roaches of all kinds remains this: consider yourselves uninvited at all times because from my point of view a cockroach is a cockroach, no matter what name you give it! You can call it an American or German or even Oriental, it’s still a cockroach and they have no place in my home.
Helpful tips to keep bush cockroaches at bay:
“So what to do if the extended Blattidae family decides to come to stay? How will I keep the cockroach cousins at bay?” I ask the Rentokil expert. In the unlikely event of this happening, he suggests I consult the Rentokil website for tips on how to get rid of cockroaches. There are pictures for easy identification of the cockroach you may have encountered, and helpful tips to keep them out, such as:
- Be sure to keep any leftovers in containers (and not lying on the kitchen counter like I did! Fortunately, the bush cockroach wasn’t interested, but if it were any other cockroach species, I’d be inviting an invasion!)
- Don’t leave any water in the sink and clean any spillages as this also attracts cockroaches.
- Take out the garbage regularly, and ensure the lids of the rubbish bins are tightly sealed.
- Cockroaches seek shelter in undisturbed areas, such as piles of magazines or stacks of cardboard or even your nice dry braai woodpile.
- It is the spring season. Why not start spring cleaning to de-clutter areas that might seem welcoming to these pests, especially the bush cockroach?
I’m glad that I found out bush cockroaches aren’t here to stay. By practising the above cockroach prevention tips, I know that I won’t have any uninvited house guests crawling around. But if I do, I know that I can call on Rentokil to provide me with expert advice and service.