Honolulu Lite
Charles Memminger

Thursday, March 3, 2005

Scientists target
randy roaches

Science magazine reports that researchers are close to coming up with a way to exterminate cockroaches based on the males' extraordinary sex drive. This is both good news and bad for Hawaii which boasts, not loudly or often, 19 species of cockroaches. The good news is that scientists are coming up with a way to kill cockroaches that does not involve rubber slippers or kayak paddles. The bad news is learning that male cockroaches are among the randiest disgusting insects in the world.

When the female cockroach squirts out a certain chemical pheromone, males will quit whatever they are doing (i.e. grooming your eyebrow while you sleep, scampering all over that apple you plan to eat in the morning, ganging up to mug smaller geckos in the corner of the garage) and run to get a little bit of hoochie-koochie.

SCIENTISTS HAVE identified that pheromone and believe they can use it to trick male cockroaches into traps. Apparently the plan is to turn those "roach motels" into "roach brothels" where the males will enter thinking they are going to get some lovin' and end up getting a dose of a micro-organism that will eventually kill them. If you think this sounds suspiciously like what happens in the human world when a man goes into a house of questionable repute and engages in unprotected sexual congress (or even sexual executive branch) with tainted paramours, resulting in diseases best not discussed at the dinner table, you're right.

"We hope it will be like a syphilis mode of insect control," said a Cornell University researcher.

The male cockroaches will meet up with their male buddies to brag about their sexual exploits, unknowingly passing the deadly germs to the other guys.

This seems a rather insensitive, not to mention, sinister, method of controlling cockroaches, to which I believe we can all say "bravo!" A Web site devoted to Hawaii insects points out that cockroaches play an important role in the ecosystem by recycling dead vegetation. Hah. If that were true, then what are they doing in my bedroom, which, though a tad untidy, is conspicuously lacking in dead vegetation -- grooming my eyebrows while I sleep?

If boy roaches are going to jump every time a girl roach spitzes "come hither" juice in their direction, they deserve to catch something unpleasant, if not downright deadly.

Charles Memminger, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists' 2004 First Place Award winner for humor writing, appears Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. E-mail cmemminger@starbulletin.com

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