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Saturday, Nov. 30, 2002


Roaches with secret technology win war

I came home the other day and noticed someone had been eating my porridge. "Someone's been eating mine too," said my husband. "And there he is!" I got my shotgun and pointed it at the roach. Bam! He's gone now.

OK, it wasn't a shotgun; it was a slipper. But the result was the same -- A big BAM! and guts flying everywhere.

Roaches in winter is something new, especially the births: I now have thousands of baby roaches that are so tiny, they are all antennae.

It has long been know that my kitchen sink is the official meeting place for flying insects. My guess is they have insect e-mail: "Hey Arnold, come quick -- banana peels!" And Arnold is there, all the way from Egypt, in a matter of seconds.

Now it seems the crawling insects are holding meetings in my sink too. I suppose it's inevitable in this era of the Internet, when bugs are sent from computer to computer at incredible speed, without us even knowing. The roaches probably downloaded themselves from my computer after responding to a popup ad for free travel.

Insects are king of the wireless. They can communicate easily without cell phones because they can catch signals with their antennae. I don't think they can get cable TV signals, however. If we start seeing insects with satellite dishes on their heads, then we will know for sure.

But surely, insects are not as dumb as we think they are. After all, it is said that the one insect that could survive a nuclear war is the roach. Since I often find roaches living in my stack of newspapers, and since they seem to spend a lot of time walking around on the newspaper lining the cabinets, it is very likely these insects can read.

The fact is, insects operate with very sophisticated technology privy to the secret insect world. Humans will never completely understand their methods of communication. And we wonder why we can't catch Osama bin Laden. It is very hard to penetrate such secret societies, so I make it a point to ask each roach, "Are you bin Laden?"

It is clear that I have got to launch an assault on the roaches before they take over completely, or at least to quell any terrorist plots they might be using my kitchen to plan for. The question is more of how to go about it.

The slipper method of removal is fast and final, but it is a bit tedious considering the large numbers of roaches that stroll through my kitchen on an average day. If I could tap dance, I would be able to kill a lot more at one time, but still, it seems move convenient to take advantage of products designed to decimate roaches en masse.

So I bought poisonous roach biscuits. The directions say to place the adhesive poison biscuits -- which look more like the buttons in an elevator -- at strategic locations around the house. But I didn't do this. Instead, I laid them out in rows, like a buffet.

However, after a few days, it seemed that the roaches turned up their antennae at the buffet. They left the biscuits untouched and instead, left their droppings all around. Perhaps they were just frustrated that they couldn't get the elevator to work.

So next, I installed some popup ads: "Free samples!" and "Eat here! Kids up to 12 days old eat free!"

I guess this did the trick, because I soon started finding dead roaches all around the house. They seem to prefer dying out in the open, since they suddenly appear belly-up on the floor, commanding their own "viewing" before I dispose of them. It makes me wonder if it is their way of surrendering.

I still ask each one, "Are you bin Laden?" After all, he is wanted dead or alive.

Check out Amy Chavez's new column, "Parents Do the Strangest Things," at www.amychavez.com.

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