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Thursday, April 9, 2009

La Cucaracha, La Cucaracha!

I was talking to my upstairs neighbor a few nights ago when he remarked that he had lavender scented plug-ins in all of his outlets to keep away roaches. Because I have a near phobia of roaches myself, I decided that this definitely needed some investigation! He claimed that roaches don't like strong smells and would therefore stay away. (I would like it noted that there is NOT a roach problem in my apartment complex! We're just overly cautious.) As I was looking for clues to the lavender enigma, I ran across the following nuggets. (Do not read further if you are as squeamish about roaches as I am!)
  • Roaches can feel a vibration upon the surface where they stand that is less than one-millionth of a millimeter. (O'Toole) No wonder they can always sense me coming to get them!

  • The Macropanesthia rhinocerus roach of Australia can grow to a length of 2.8 inches. (O'Toole) Note to self: Do not move to Australia.
  • A female American cockroach can lay more than 1,000 eggs in her lifetime, which can last over four years. (O'Toole) That's when she starts getting a little long in the antennae...

  • Some species of the Malaysian cockroach Perisphaeria are metallic green and can roll into a ball like a roly-poly when they are attacked. (O'Toole)

  • It is thought that cockroaches and humans have been cohabiting, so to speak, since the days of the caveman. (O'Toole)

  • Roaches breathe through tiny holes in their bodies. (

  • When the cockroaches of the genus Ergaula are attacked, they play dead and emit an odor that smells like rotting flesh. (O'Toole) Why did I need to know this?

  • I'm sure that you've heard of the so-called spitting cockroaches of the Eurycotis species that make a substance that they can squirt at you from up to 8 inches away! (O'Toole)

  • Cockroaches also have the grotesque ability to remain alive without their heads. Actually both halves of the body can stay alive after separated: the head for several hours and the body for several weeks. ( Again, this falls under the category of nuggets that I never wanted to know.

Be sure to check out this fascinating roach FAQ from the University of Massachusetts. It answers such fascinating questions as Do cockroaches bite?, Why do they die on their backs?, and How do roaches walk on walls?

Getting back to my neighbor's assertion that cockroaches don't like lavender, I did manage to find a website that claims "liquid extracts of lemon grass, peppermint, basil, lavender, citronella, and angelica herbs inhibit a cockroach's foraging." Well, whadayaknow.

DM "Cockroaches" Encyclopedia of Insects and Spiders. Ed Christopher O’Toole. Oxford University Press 2002. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press. Mississippi Library Commission. 9 April 2009

1 comment:

  1. Um, thanks for the nuggets ~ I'm planting lavender! *shiver*


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