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Monday, September 12, 2016

HAWAII HAD A SERIOUS COCKROACH CRISIS

I FIRST WROTE THIS ARTICLE BEFORE I LEFT ON MY CIRCLE PACIFIC ADVENTURE.  It has been more than a month since that icky crisis, and signs are good that the end of that difficult period might be over.  It has everything to do with the controversial HoyHoy Roach Traps.  Details at the end.  Mind you, unlike Antarctica or the Sahara Desert, Hawaii will never rid itself of large flying cockroaches.  Unless, of course, some new-fangled genetic technology like CRISPR is attempted.

I can't find any statistics that Hawaii has the largest flying cockroaches in the nation.  However, we do have a reputation of having the fiercest insects:  centipedes and cockroaches.

The biggest difference between the two is that centipedes can sting you, viciously, while cockroaches cannot do anything to you, except maybe induce a heart attack and, for some of us, raise our blood pressure and/or pulse rate.  But why?  I don't know.  Here is one list, but each explanation is nothing close to being anything terrifying.

BBC had the article that most made sense.  But I warn you, don't click on it, for there are all kinds of cockroach photos.  I will not show a live representation of a large, flying, Hawaiian-type cockroach in this posting.  Why?  I'm afraid of even a photo.   So back to the BBC:
  • There are tens of millions in the world that suffer from katsridaphobia, cockroach phobia.
  • Roaches don't cause malaria like mosquitos, or bring The Plague, like rats.  They don't consume your wheat crop.  They might bite, but in a non-toxic manner.
  • Around the world, some keep cockroaches as pets,while others add them to their diet.
  • Fear is probably not genetic.
  • The dread and anxiety probably came from a childhood experience.
I can almost hold a large, non-flying cockroach.  Small ones don't bother me.  But the B-52 American roach found throughout Hawaii panics me.

  • can live for a week without its head and without food for a month
  • hold its breath for 40 minutes, and remain underwater for half an hour
  • love beer
  • originated 280 million years ago
  • have 4,000 species
Way back in the 1960's I worked in the sugar industry.  I had a colleague who came back from a stint in Ecuador and brought back with him in a formaldehyde jar the largest cockroach I'd ever seen.  It was, in my mind, six inches long, with an antennae that must have been a foot long.  He said that in a certain season they can be seen flying around lights and if one happens to land on you, they do bite, and poisonously.  Turns out that the world's largest winged cockroach is Megaloblatta longipennis from that part of South America.  So much for my imagination:  in reality they are almost 4 inches long with a wing span of 8 inches.  I think this is what it looks like above.

Apparently, cockroaches were as large as 18 inches long hundreds of million years ago.  In Illinois, of all places.  While not really relevant for this discussion, there was a giant sea scorpion 390 million years ago that was larger than us.  Likewise, nearly three hundred million years ago Germany was home to the 8-foot centipede.

I could well be the #1 world expert for trapping and killing cockroaches.  I have regular dinners at 15 Craigside with a PhD entomologist from the University of California at Berkeley, Mino.  He is why Hawaii no longer has those swarms of termites during the summertime at dusk.  He knows more about insects than I do.  But I have had a lot more experience than him on how to rid my apartment of roaches.
How did this happen?  I lived on the top floor of Craigside for 32 years.   Sure, you do everything to deny them food and keep a clean environment.  You know what large cockroaches do?  They find their way to the top of buildings and have nowhere else to go.  I tried everything.  

Traps?  Roach Motel does not work.  Boric acid with flour, sugar...whatever?  Same effect as all those insecticides you spray around and place in corners so visiting pets don't eat them.  So what about utilizing CRISPR to rid cockroaches forever?  The people of Hawaii would vote resoundingly FOR this solution.  I suspect, though, that all those companies selling Raid and stuff will do everything they can to prevent this from happening, siding with the do-gooder environmentalists and modern-day Luddites.

In my previous penthouse roof, they came in abundance at the first really humid and warm night in July and August.  Mind you, I lived on the 28th floor.  I once sat in the middle of this battle zone with a cognac, cigar, and Raid can with an almost hose-like trajectory (sprays don't work) at hand.  Felt like Major General Custer at Little Bighorn.  I had a lamp lit sufficiently far from me.  Two anecdotes:
  • One night under a Blue Moon (yes, one of those nights, there is such a thing), I saw on the wall a rather large roach walking down a wall, with my largest gecko (I then encouraged their presence because I thought they ate cockroaches) heading towards the victim.  To my astonishment, they walked right past each other.  So much for my being kind to geckos.
  • One night I actually killed seven, yes seven, very large flying cockroaches.  I owe this to Raid.
I was brave enough to go into battle only a couple of times.  What really worked was Hoy Hoy Trap a Roach. I show this trap again because it is in top ten of anything I've ever bought. Large flying roaches frequently visited my lanai area, where I had two shacks to store stuff.  Somehow, they got into those rooms, and Hoy Hoy was fabulous.  I have seen as many as ten in one trap, but usually only one or two, which I replaced every few months.  I would guess I trapped at least a thousand during my 32-year penthouse life.  I once placed one of these in the trunk of a rented car, and the whole glue area was covered with small roaches.

Thankfully, but rarely did a large one enter the apartment.  I remember once my wife was ecstatic, for she had placed a large book over an invader on the rug.  When I came home I got a fish net and Raid can ready, she lifted the book.  The roach was no longer there.  In any case, when a giant flying monster does show up, I can't sleep until I killed it.  That was the only time we never did hunt down an invader.

But back to the present, Hawaii a month ago was in an extreme crisis. Hoy Hoy traps were taken off the shelves because of a mislabeling problem.  I noticed, though, that you could go to Amazon and get ten traps for $17, but they look different (left).  Sam's Club also now offers online orders, where you pick up your package at any local Sam's.

This was the problem.  HoyHoy has been on sale in Hawaii for two decades.  There are no pesticides in the bait.  However, OUR GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS WERE RECENTLY CHANGED, causing a labeling confusion.  The local distributor essentially will be destroying the 190,000 traps on hand.  The product is safe by any standard.  No pesticides are involved.  This is why people despise government and companies have difficulty staying in business.  Yes, it was the EPA, which has been a particular thorn in the side of Hawaii.

How am I reacting to this emergency?  No problem.  First, I was away all of August, and, for the record, my absence had nothing to do with a lack of HoyHoy.  Second, I live at 15 Craigside.  In my more than two years here, I have yet to see a large cockroach in the building or on my lanai.  One of my neighbors and I both think that the #1 virtue of living here is that there are no flying cockroaches.  I do, by the way, still regularly change my HoyHoy traps in my apartment and lanai.  I still have not caught one.  Life is now wonderful.

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There are two major ocean storms in the West Pacific.  First, SUPER Typhoon Meranti is now up to a monstrous 180 MPH and heading straight for the southern tip of Taiwan, most likely missing Taitung, but certainly affecting Kaohsiung:



Right on the heels of Meranti is a new tropical storm to attain Category 3 strength, but most likely turning north and heading towards Japan:


There are seven ocean storms, including Hurricane Orlene, with a path towards Hawaii:


However, all computer models show Orlene weakening long before impacting the state.

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