Bleech!

Periplaneta americanaThe American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana), a.k.a. American Waterbug, and, incorrectly, as the Palmetto bug. The “American” is also a misnomer; they originated in Africa and been here since the 17th century. They are FREAKIN’ HUGE. (Sorry, my entomological sympathies are strained by the Blattodea.) 4cm or 1.5″ long. Distinguished from the smaller house invader commonly known as “roaches,” Blattella germanica, by size and head pattern and habits and numbers. One waterbug making noise behind my lintel postcards not so bad, a bunch of roaches scurrying when the light goes on, now, that’s ugly, and luckily not something I have to deal with. In looking the roaches up, I see there’s a Death’s Head Roach (Blaberus craniifer) in Key West and the Caribbean. Lucky them. The Waterbug moniker comes from the fact that they frequently enter apartments through the drains. Years ago in another apartment on a very, very hot and humid night, I saw these things flying, slowly, ponderously ~ atavistically horrifying.

9 Responses to “Bleech!”


  1. 1 P. B. January 5, 2013 at 8:49 am

    I discovered a great new term the other day – ‘katsaridaphobia’, fear of cockroaches. I was thinking about my fear/hatred of them, and was wondering why SO MANY people hate them. There really is something quite awful about them… ugh ugh!! (I had to scroll past your picture very quickly, as it was terrifying me.) And the worst are the flying ones…. encountered one in India once, couldn’t sleep all night!!

  2. 3 Elizabeth January 5, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Well, this picture is enough to make me sick! For no good reason, I have a phobia about these giant roaches. I’m not fond of the German ones either, but have no problem eliminating them with “extreme prejudice.” I killed them by the thousands in my first apartment, since they kept coming in from roach-ridden neighboring apartments.

    But killing the American ones is a real challenge, and not for patriotic reasons. My cats used to alert me to the flying invasion of my 5th floor apartment on those hot humid nights. I would pursue it with roach spray and an empty coffee can – while it was stunned by the spray, I’d turn the empty can over it, and weight it down, waiting for the poison to take its course.

    I conquered my fear enough to take several pictures of a very sick one* in my kitchen years ago. And when I found a sick one a couple of years ago, I captured it and kept it in a bottle to see if it would recover. It lasted long enough to receive a name – Gregor. In spite of their reputed ability to survive a nuclear attack, Gregor never regained its strength. I eventually put it out of its misery by placing the bottle in the freezer overnight. Apparently even cockroaches can’t take that much cold. I gave him a funeral at sea.

    *sick ones don’t run away as fast as the healthy ones.

  3. 5 Evolution of X January 5, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    “…atavistically horrifying.” Amen. It’s the one insect I’ve encountered that really freaks me out. I also once spent a night being terrorized by a particularly healthy specimen years ago when I was living in Florida. I finally got up the nerve to whack it with a shoe which apparently served only to anger it. It took to the air and sent me shrieking for cover.

    • 6 mthew January 6, 2013 at 7:57 am

      And Florida, with its swampy atmosphere, has the real Palmetto Bug, too, the Florida woods cockroach (Eurycotis floridana) which can get up to 2″, remind me never to visit.

  4. 7 Flatbush Gardener (@xrisfg) January 6, 2013 at 11:17 am

    All insects are bigger in Florida. There are roaches that exceed 2″.

  5. 9 Susan January 6, 2013 at 11:37 am

    I was in Florida many years ago, at a state park known as Home of The Senator and found myself in a hurry to use the restroom. On my way into the stall, I felt something underfoot and heard it “crunch” as my daughter said “EWWW.” Upon relieving the source of my haste, I now realized what a “buggy” place I was in. I opened the stall door and saw the HUGEST COCKROACH EVER! on its back, half crushed and still wiggling. It took me a moment to gather the fortitude to come out past it – I could not bear to finish the job, jumping over so as to maintain maximum distance and exiting quickly. I was glad that I always carried personal towelettes & sanitizer when traveling and did not need to attempt use of the sinks. We returned up the path, punctuating our conversation with “blech” and “eek.” That was over 20 years ago and I have not forgotten!


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