Cockroaches and moths

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In previous columns I have mentioned cockroaches, specifically smoky brown roaches, the large most conspicuous invaders of households. I also stated that the numbers of these roaches could be substantially reduced by frequent applications of harmless boric acid powder under sinks and in other roach hiding places.

Subsequently I recommended another product, “Harris Famous Roach Tablets,” that has proven to be more effective and longer lasting than boric acid powder. Not long after I placed some of these tablets in roach hideouts, the smoky browns disappeared, and I haven’t seen one since. If you’re having problems with smoky brown roaches, I strongly recommend the Harris tablets as a solution.

Quite a while ago, the most troublesome roaches were German cockroaches, Blatella germanica. Another small problem species was the brown-banded cockroach, Supella longipalpa, but it was much less common than the former. For inexplicable reasons, both of these roaches have virtually disappeared. It’s been years since I last saw either of these.

But for the past couple of months or so, roaches I’ve never seen before began showing up in my kitchen and occasionally elsewhere. The adults are winged, about half an inch long, with a pale light vertical stripe on the back. The immatures appear to be solid black. The Harris roach tablets are apparently ineffective against the newcomers.

The vast majority of these roaches are not seen in the places roaches usually hang out, but in my dishwasher of all places! We run the dishwasher about twice weekly and in between times, when I open it, I usually see several of the roaches.

I haven’t gotten them identified yet, but for the time being I’m calling them “dishwasher roaches.” How they gain entrance to the house via the dishwasher is a mystery. I can only assume that they enter the gray water line that discharges dishwasher water, bath water and faucet water to the outside and then crawl into and up the line to the dishwasher as their mode of entry.

If and when I get the pests identified and get an expert’s opinion on how to deal with them, I’ll let you know. Meanwhile, if any readers of this column are experiencing problems with these roaches similar to mine, please inform me. My email address is rhmount@gmail.com

About this time each year, the large greenish Luna Moths show up at night on a rear window or on a door to my deck. They belong to the moth family Saturniidae. Other members of this family native to our area are the large Polyphemus Moths,the Promethia Moths, the Imperial Moths, the Royal Walnut Moths, and the brightly colored, smaller IO Moths.

The larvae of some members of this family spin their cocoons, containing the pupae, and suspend them from tree limbs. These pupae are preyed on by gray squirrels. The Luna Moths pupate under fallen leaves and are less likely to be eaten by squirrels.

During the past year I have live-trapped and relocated 16 gray squirrels from my property, and I’m hoping that some of the moths whose pupae are subject to depredation by squirrels will have a better chance of surviving than when squirrels were overly abundant. So far, one, a Promethia, already has. Last year one Polyphemus, one Imperial, and one IO moth appeared, along with numerous Luna Moths. This season I suspect more of the formerly less common species will make an appearance now that the squirrel population has been substantially reduced. Moth lovers, stay tuned.

Bob Mount is a Professor Emeritus with the Dept of Zoology and Entomology, Auburn University. He is also chairman of the Opelika Order of Geezers, well-known local think tank and political clearing house. He writes about birds, snakes, turtles, bugs and assorted conservation topics.

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