The Horror of living in S.E. Asia

Giant-roach

Morning tea with some milk, a couple sugars, and just a dash of GIANT COCKROACH!

 This BEAUTY of a specimen is an Australian Cockroach (Periplaneta australasiae). Looking at the above picture you might notice the little spines on its legs. Those aren’t sensory protuberances, but are for aiding clamoring over difficult surfaces, even if they weren’t effective against the sheer surface of the inside wall of the cup. Incidentally, robot legs have been fashioned after the design of those appendages.

Australian Cockroach
(Periplaneta australasiae)

I live in Thailand, and you just can’t get rid of the bugs here. It’s tropical, and they thrive like mad. For example, I’ve had countless battles with the ants.  I’ve lost, prevailed temporarily, lost again, made my piece with them, came up with new strategies to rid myself of them, lost again, made my piece… I’ve experimented with using vinegar in a spray bottle, vinegar mixed with insect repellent in a spray bottle, salt, hand soap, dish soap, laundry soap, and citronella (which is extremely effective but only in the short term). They ignored the ant trap I bought in the store. Whatever I do, they come back. There are too many little cracks and small holes in the bathroom. They can come in under the front door, and through the wall behind the wardrobe. Unless one lives in a very new and well sealed building, one has to deal with the ants. Even my clean-freak friends have them.

Roaches, on the other hand, in the home, are an infrequent sighting for me. I’ve only seen one since I’ve been staying in this guesthouse. But it was hardy. A survivor! Virtually indestructible!  I’ve tried to kill it twice without success. Once I saw it as I was leaving, quickly grabbed my mosquito repellent, and gave it a thorough shower of death spray, thinking I’d dispose of the corpse when I returned later. No good. The roach disappeared without a trace.

The roach disappeared without a trace.

About a week later it reappeared. Yes, I don’t actually know 100% for sure it’s the same roach, but I never found a dead one (and I looked for it), and never saw two, so I’m making an assumption. The second time I saw it I doused it with the citronella spray that pretty much desiccates the ants on impact. It didn’t seem to have the same effect on the roach, though the roach didn’t appear to appreciate it none too much neither. I didn’t wanna’ squish it (it can produce an odor!) so I followed it up with a complete misting in Windex. I know it was cruel. I didn’t like doing it. But I can’t stand those giant roaches (and this variety can FLY!) Again, I did it on the way out, and when I came back was surprised again that there was no corpse.

Finally, I constructed an unintentional roach trap. I left out a half-filled cup of milk tea at night (which I wouldn’t normally do because the ants love it). In the morning I noticed the leftover tea and wondered vaguely if it was still drinkable. I logged onto the computer and then discovered antennae twitching from the cup. YUCK!  A half submerged giant roach in my tea. Repulsive!

Video version:

However, on the positive side, I caught the little fucker! Then I flushed it down the toilet. It’s probably still alive somewhere. It has already demonstrated its resilience against drowning. A little research in Wikipedia reveals that, “Some [roaches] can go without air for 45 minutes. In one experiment, cockroaches were able to recover from being submerged underwater for half an hour.”  I guess I just set it free rather than killed it. Good for my karma.

In the future its descendants may rule the world. According to the same Wikipedia article, roaches are 6-15 times more resilient to radiation than are humans, the reason being that their cells only divide when the are molting. Thus, they are much better equipped to live through a Chernobyl or Fukushima than we are. And when it comes to global warming, well, they like it hot.

If I see another one, at least now I know how to catch it!

Note: Just did more research and YES, Tokay Geckos, which abound here, DO in fact eat cockroaches. See the proof in the pudding below:

Couldn’t understand the narration, but, there’s a note that the video was taken in Ko Phangan, Thailand. I love Tokay Geckos, and hate giant, ugly-ass cockroaches, so this is all good for me.

Click on the image below if you wanna’ see a close-up of the roach itself.

actual-pixels-roach

Not to be totally down on the lowliest, most despised and rejected of Gourd’s creatures, below is a video of how robot locomotion has been modeled on the insect in question:

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