I have another cockroach story. I know – imagine that. It’s been a cockroach year, and I’m not happy about it. The good news is that with all that provocation I still avoided a melt-down. The bad news is that I’m on edge and on high alert, and I have disturbing memories from this summer.
So, last night I headed upstairs to change into a sleep shirt, sweatpants and a sweatshirt to be comfortable watching some more TV before I went to bed. I had / have a small pile of clothes in our bathroom on the edge of the tub, admittedly not the best scenario for a clean house, but I’m owning my marginal straightening up skills. Just as I stepped into the bathroom, a cockroach disappeared under the arm of the sweatshirt on the edge of the tub. I BARELY saw it – like for a millisecond saw only the back two feet as it disappeared. It was so fleeting a sighting that I immediately began to doubt myself. But, I felt that I’d seen this monster and I needed to defeat it before I could progress with my evening, not to mention the sweatshirt it ran under was the one I was intending to put on right then. I went to the stairs and called down to Jack for back-up and to hurry.
He immediately fetched the industrial-sized roach spray container that he purchased a few years ago for just such occasions and headed up the stairs. He is wonderful to be so responsive to my roach emergencies. I’ve handled plenty of them on my own if he’s unavailable, but I end up stressed and jumpy for hours, nay days. On the other hand, his concern might not be so much out of altruism but because of that one time a few years ago that I didn’t handle the roach encounter well and scream-cried for a good chunk of the evening – poor guy probably doesn’t ever want to be subjected to that horror again.
I was armed with a heavy sandal and I explained that we were going to remove the items of clothing one at a time and one of us was going to kill the sorry roach that was hiding there. I started with the sweatshirt since it was on top. I picked it up carefully, shook it, then shook it harder. Nothing. I tossed it onto the bathroom floor and then went onto the other clothing items in the stack (I know, how much clothing crap am I carelessly discarding on the tub edge? Plenty). Item by item we shook them and then tossed them into the dry tub (Jack’s idea) until we had gotten through all of them and not encountered that sorry bastard roach. I started to doubt myself – did I really see those two roach legs disappear under the clothes as I entered the bathroom?
Jack decided to pick up the sweatshirt again in case that was where the jerk cockroach had gone and we had just missed him. He picked it up (it’s dark green and a roach would be hard to see on it) and shook gently looking at it front and back. There was no roach. Then he shook it gently again and then shook it again harder. And then it happened – somehow the cockroach was flung from INSIDE the sweatshirt onto the floor right in front of me. Of course I slammed the sandal down on it with much more force than was necessary, flinging roach parts out in all directions. Also, I’m pretty sure I shouted some sort of profanity as I did it, because I wanted all the roaches within hearing distance to understand what their fate would be if them messed with me.
Next, I cleaned up the roach aftermath while sweet Jack sprayed bug spray (from the industrial-sized vessel) all over the bathroom, the adjoining closet, and the bedroom. (Did I mention the scream-cry incident from a couple of years ago?) However, a couple haunting realizations have plagued my thoughts for the rest of the night and really ever since (aside from the ever-present intrusive thought which is “Where the f*ck do they come in from and why can’t we stop this invasion?!?”) First, I immediately felt guilty for the small pile of clothes that had not been put away and, therefore, gave the roach a place to hide once he was on the side of the tub. I said to myself, “Why can’t you just put your clothes away where they belong?” Except, upon further thought, where they belong is about, maybe, 6 feet away in the closet where there are piles and piles of similarly folded clothing items, not protected from any insect invasion whatsoever, in fact almost inviting stray insects to hide in the depths of the multitude of folded, stacked and hung clothing items between which I have no way of seeing or divining whether or not entire roach colonies are living within. In other words, my mind is pretty sure that all of my clothes are now infested with unwanted vile cockroach visitors, and what the hell difference does it make where I store them.
And the second thought that I’ve become fixated on (and this one is worse) is ‘What if I had not caught the glimpse of those two sorry-ass cockroach hind legs as they disappeared under (actually INTO, we have since found out) the sweatshirt that I was seconds away from putting over my head, onto my body?’ I have no words for the carnage that would’ve ensued should I have discovered a live cockroach inside my sweatshirt that was already on my body. And as a corollary to this thought, I don’t know how I can comfortably put on any item of clothing ever again. There will be rituals, I think, to be sure prospective clothing is rid of bastard roach vermin (or I’ll go naked, but I’ve never been a fan of living in my birthday suit so this one is unlikely). I’m really not looking forward to the amount of time that will be invested into this ‘checking’ in the weeks and months to come!
And, finally, I want to share one more tidbit of shocking cockroach information that I learned over this past summer. I’ve known all my life about the large flying cockroaches that we encounter here in the south – I have a couple really gross and TERRIFYING experiences with large flying roaches from my younger years that I could convey, but will save for another time. However, for most of my adult life I’ve also encountered small- to mid-sized brown cockroaches that were more round in shape and that did not have wings. Thinking back especially on all the years we’ve lived in this house in NC, I’ve seen these roaches, killed them and then said to myself by way of comfort, “At least these are not the huge flying cockroaches. These must be those smaller german cockcroaches I’ve read about.” However, for whatever reason, I was moved to do some research this year over the summer and I found out information I wish I didn’t know. These smaller ones are not a different flightless species, they are just younger and have yet to molt the final time, when they will end up with wings. In other words, all of these smaller flightless brown cockroaches that I’ve encountered are just not fully mature, and if we hadn’t encountered and killed them, they would be flying too. I can’t explain why this upsets me so much except I’ve just been giving myself a false sense of comfort all these years. That’s why I included this picture to show everyone the different stages of the flying bastard smokeybrown cockroaches, which I’m pretty sure is what we have around our house here in Cary. (Smokeybrown is such a nice name, not unpleasant at all – I would even look for eye shadow in smokeybrown and be super happy if I found it).
Also, just to add insult to injury, I’m including this link to the cockroach molting its final time and ending up with wings. It’s beyond gross and I had to sit super-still and not allow any other object to touch me while watching this for fear of screaming and losing my mind. Why did I go ahead and watch it, you ask? Because the scientist in me had to know the truth. Also, I recommend setting the video speed to 2.0 so it takes half the time to watch. It’s the only way I could make it through. You’re welcome.