The Calhoun County Gazette of Calhoun County Alabama presents local news, sports, and features of interest about the area. It is dedicated to the people of Calhoun County and to others who would like to know more about us and the great opportunities for travel, fun, and business in our region.
 Feature Story 
My Roaches Love Spaghetti  
A Bug Feature...
Note from the Editor: Somebody's Aunt Nelly Kelly sent this article and harassed me for weeks until I placed it here in news. I can't say that you'll learn much, nor do I even recommend it, but if you on.
Aunt Nelly Kelly                      

     Mr. Morrison, who calls hisself an editor, let me write up this piece for you about roach bugs and then he wanted to edit out all the good stuff. Shows you what he knows! He also told me that I might not want my name published, but I don't care. I'm Aunt Nellie Kelly. I just won't tell you whose aunt I am, so that takes care of that!
     Roaches. I love the little buggers. Always have. Now, I'm not talking about the pine roach, as we call them, nor any of those exotics. I'm talking about the common German cockroach, or water bug. You either got them, had them, or will have them. If you like to go out to eat a lot, chances are you shared your supper with one. They are no respecter of fine digs either. The sign out front neither narrows or expands your opportunity for an encounter. They go where they please and have been doing so for at least a hundred billion years.
     Back to why I'm partial to the little shellbacks. When I was just a little girl way back in the hills, we used to listen to the radio because TV wouldn't make it through the pines. I had one in my very own room, as a matter of fact. One day I spied a little water bug hiding in that radio, right out in the front, of all places. He, (I thought better of that shortly) was in a little decorative lip that ran all around the front of the radio. That lip wasn't more than an 8th of an inch deep, but the little feller mostly fit and seemed happy enough waving it's friendly little antennae around and watching the world go by.
     Then, one day, to my surprise, I noticed that the little roach boy had a bunch of little roach babies in that little cleft with him, er, her. So...I killed them, splat dead. I learned a valuable lesson right then and there!
     The problem with the little torpedoes is that even though they are as friendly as dogs and as inquisitive as raccoons, they are basically untrustable, untrainable and live to do two and breed.
     Take the lowly fire ant. If you could train them to dig your garden for you, you could throw that Sears garden tiller out in the weed patch, for no critter alive can dig the soil as fine as the ant. But, they are sneaky, vicious, and untrainable, so they are fit for only one thing. Killing!
     I've had two basic encounters with Herr Roach. The first was when I was just getting started in the world on my own. I moved into a duplex apartment when I was a teenager. The place was real snuggy and nice and warm, and I had a fine time of it for awhile. What the landlord didn't mention, though, was that along with the rent came a case of roach bugs from you know where. You could turn on the light at night and it was more crowded than the Calhoun County Fair in 1963, what with the verminous little buggers having ALL the fun on the sink ride, dish ride, and leftover hamburger helper ride. It was pretty disgusting. Word was that some years after we had moved out, and the place sold, it took the exterminator three weeks of daily visits to get rid of the pests.
     Later on I got my own digs, and we only saw an odd bug or two now and again, and it was just a matter of a good stomp or two and no more problem. Then, a few months ago I happened to stumble into the worst case of luck imaginable. I brought in this official NASCAR beverage cooler ice chest and placed it on the kitchen counter with the intentions of washing it out for service. It remained there in the kitchen....overnight. Bad bad mistake.
     You see, I didn't know it at the time, but a sneaky little roach mama had laid a nice juicy bug egg right there inside that fold over handle thing, and it hatched...that night. The next day when I picked up that cooler it was the Calhoun County fair all over again. I can only imagine that the little roaches, all new to the world, thought I was Godzilla come to eat them, so they just naturally scattered from under that cooler when I picked it up. Poof! And the race was on!
     To my count, I'm in generation number four now. Back to that in a minute.
     Since my first introduction to water bugs, I've had a natural fascination with them, as you may have noticed. I couldn't afford to take up college, and none of them would hire me to teach anyway, so most of what I know I learned on my own. Mind you, I had a twenty year stretch when I didn't learn much, because I was that lucky, but my luck wasn't to last. While until recently I didn't have a problem myself, in the last couple of years I've seen plenty elsewhere. You do that sort of thing if you're a light bulb inspector.
     By trade, until around 2002 or so, I was a line polisher for Alabama Power. They say there's a job for everyone.
     Have you ever looked up at those high lines running off in all directions from the power dams? Ever noticed how bright and shiny they are? Well, that was due to me. For 20 years, 5 days a week, I'd pick up a ride on a helicopter down at the Anniston Municipal Airport in Oxford and they would set me down on top of one of those 500 foot high power poles. Armed only with an industrial bucket of Pledge, and a bicycle with no tires, I'd set those rims to spinning and ride those lines, up and down, and down and up, pulling a towel on a string behind that bike polishing those lines as I went. By the time I had polished up the Ohatchee to Cheaha span, it was time to start all over again. Birds can make an awful mess.
     Well, the job played out when the stock market went under, awhile back. The salary men up top decided that the lines could just tarnish. They said the helicopter was using too much gas and decided to only get it out for company picnics and such.
     They called me in one day and said they had another important job...light bulb inspector. Well, I knew the man in that position, and though I never thought much of him as a human being, I couldn't see taking his job, for there is only the one for this area. So I said so.
     They said to me not to worry. So, while I was sitting out there in that little waiting room, they taken the inspector in from his break and said plenty loudly that they were going to replace him. He said, "How come? I never done nothing!" And they told him that was the precise reason. That's how I got that job.
     As light bulb inspector I must visit homes and businesses all around the Calhoun county area to make sure that the bulbs are functioning properly. Nowadays, with the high price of power, it's important to minimize faulty and power wasting bulb events whenever possible. At least it seems like it's more important than keeping those 737,000 volt high lines shiny, anyway. That's what they told me, and some of those managers have been to college, so they know what they are talking about.
     You know, I have a list of bulbs as long as your arm that I have to check. The ones that give me the most problems are the ones under the refrigerators. I have been in homes where not only was there not a place to lay for the roach bugs scurrying around, but not even a place to stand.
     Most often I use a mirror on a long pole. In a place like that there are so many roaches that they don't even mind that compressor light. Normally roach bugs will shy away from light, you know, preferring dark places. That's why you mostly see them only at night unless you see them in the day, and if you see them in the day you have a REALLY big problem.
     And there is that smell. It's the smell of poverty. It's a sickly sweet odor, and if you ever smelled it, you won't ever forget it. Most often you run into it in homes where the folks can't afford bug control, and in a few where they can, but don't seem to mind it.
     I was in one house where I smelled that smell. It was a nice brick house in a nice neighborhood at that. The owner had a nice job at the depot too. Over the dining room table, hanging from the chandelier, was an uncoiled and slightly old and crunchy roll of fly paper. There wasn't a place for a new fly to land for all the old ones on that thing. I never understood that.
     One day on my institutional rounds I had cause to stop by a hamburger joint to cite them for a blinking exit sign light. Blinkers actually use less power, but they are irritating. So while I was inside checking out the light event, I had occasion to see the behind the scenes portion of the operation. There was a really neat chain drive system for cooking the burgers. Fresh meat would plop down on one end, run through some sort of oven, and come out all cooked and juicy on the other end. Unfortunately, on the back end of the process, the roach circus was going at full tilt as the little rascals practiced their high wire act running up and down the framework as the burgers passed within an inch of their inquisitive little feelers. I never understood that either.
     Now, I've seen more than my share of those german roach boys and girls in eateries. Most places work real hard to get rid of them, and some even come close, but, they are inevitable, and, since you can't kill them with a palm sized neutron bomb, you might as well get used to them. I still frequent restaurants where I've seen them in small numbers. I even visit that hamburger bug heaven establishment from time to time, especially since they tore the old place down and built a new one. Light bulb inspectors get to eat for free. But I still wonder....... I think when it becomes so bad enough that the newspaper reports it as "presence of insects..." I have no way of knowing...It could be spiders or grasshoppers, but I'm thinking they are mostly talking about you know what.
     In my own case, I've been fighting the exploding bug menace for the last few months. I'm lucky. I live in a house. If you live in an apartment...well, you're doomed. Sorry. Unless you can get everyone to agree to an aggressive control program...and all it takes is one'll never get a thing done on your own. But if you live in a house, you have a chance...
     Like I said earlier, I've had the chance to study the little buggers up close and personal for 4 hatches. From egg to new generation can take as little as 2 months. They are in breeders, and they'll eat each other as quickly as your chicken fried steak. They are cute...but nasty. That sickly sweet odor I mentioned is produced by them. It's a thing called pheromones. You have probably heard of it. Sometimes companies who make cologne try to make people pheromones. It doesn't smell much better. In the case of the cockroach, it says, hey, ya'll come. Good eats and lots of warm dark places to do buggy stuff! You really don't want to smell that smell, if you are a human!
     I recently did a little study on the subject, and much to my surprise, I learned that roach folks go through three stages. First, you have the egg case. Nasty thing! After the hatch you have these little black shelled bug babies, who don't really look like papa and mama roach. You might think you have two different varieties, but you don't. They'll shed their hide up to 6 times before finally getting to the torpedo stage when they are fully mature, vigorous, and sexually potent eating and breeding machines.
     I've had a chance to see the little fellows grow up. They aren't much bigger than the head of a pin to start, but each day they get just a little bigger. It's fascinating and makes a person sort of proud that they can raise such a healthy family of bugs on little more than spaghetti leavings.
     Mostly what you read about the habits of the crawlers is in the context of chaos, for that is what you have when you study them in numbers. However, when you have but a single hatch, some very interesting things come to light.
     An egg produces thirty to forty bug babies, you see. According to greatly learned men of science, unless they are pushed, they don't get more than 5 feet away from the delivery room. This, I think, is a fact.
     Something I have observed is that they are actually curious creatures, and somewhat trusting, until they get the odd notion that you have only their worst fears close to your heart. They act like trusting cockeroach spaniel dogs, and aren't too bad to run unless they have been chased before. You get the idea that just like trusty old Rover, they think themselves house pets. The problem, as I may have mentioned in passing before, is that they are impossible to house train. They'll slip the leash each and every time it's tried!
     Another interesting observation is that they definitely have a plan. While there may be 40 of them all piled up in a nice dark corner under the cabinet, or in the coffee maker, or under the fridge, or in the innards of your stove, you'll never see more than 3 or 4 foraging the counter for goodies at a time. Surely this is some kind of survival trait. As surely as you pounce on this lot and kill them dead, there are always more waiting to make a break for your leftover toast. One evening I launched a midnight hunting party and bagged the usual 3. Then I cut off the light and...waited. A half hour later I went back and bashed 3 more. The little scutters saw that light come on and go off and just like good old puppy dogs, figgered there would be some good new vittles on the counter to eat. Well you win a few and you lose a few.
     Did I mention that they love my spaghetti? Oh yes indeed. I've seen them down on their little buggy knees shoveling leftover spaghetti sauce into their bug muzzles. Forget grease or soap scum. They go straight for Auntie's spaghetti every time!
     Better than that, I have even seen them asleep, fat, gorged, and happy, just like old Woofy after a pan of cornbread. When they get sleepy or whatever they do, they might fall over right on the spot...legs up. But touch them, and they come to life, instantly awake, making for the nest. Well, until SPLAT, that is.
     If you are a happy house owner, and you do have what they call an infestation, the only thing you can do is to battle them. The smart ones among us calculate that one bug can turn into 10,000 in a year's time. Every little torpedo you send to heaven is one less 10,000 you'll have to worry with next year.
     My solution, since I have only a few bugs, is to get up at odd times of the night and stumble into the kitchen with my trusty can of Raid and go bug hunting. Slowly but surely, I'm wiping them out in 3's and 4's. It liked to have broken my heart when that last hatch hatched, but I still think I'm winning. Of course I thought I was winning that numbers racket game at the Calhoun County Fair that year I lost my paycheck too.
     My other solution that didn't work, was bug bombs. Forget them. If you are truly crawling, they will kill a lot of bugs...but inexplicably, the ones who survive will be all but immune to the next attack. All you'll get is a mess and an itchy nose. You'll see nary another dead bug. It's like Bynum blowing up every so often, and the folks who are left are inoculated. It will never happen for us poor humans, but it's the modus operandi for our bug pals. Even the French people don't like them, so no chance of shipping them out of the country. They are here to stay.
     My current solution that is still in the trial stage is to actually do away with the spaghetti sauce stained plates after supper. It's true that roaches will go 42 days with no spaghetti before they go belly up, but at least they might get irritated in the meantime. And one better, I'm making sure that there is not so much as a drip of water in the kitchen for them. They don't call them water bugs for nothing. According to college trained sources, while roachians can go a long time without supper, just seven days with no water and they'll go to bug heaven guaranteed! So, nowadays, the kitchen is veritable Saharan waste for bug boys and bug girls.
     Of course, I could hire a professional exterminator. They have lots of toys we don't, to do in the crawling land torpedoes, and mostly they get the job done, but if I do, I'll never have all the fun of the nightly chase. Take a word of advice from Aunt Nellie Kelly, light bulb checker, and roach slayer....Keep it clean, and keep it dry. Make those bugs work for their supper for a change, or tell them to just hit the road! They won't, though.
If you like roaches, you'll love Honey Bees, Chiggers, and Noseeums

My Roaches Love My Spaghetti







German Roach Torpedo




Roaches in your complex?
 You are doomed!













Power Line Polisher








Light Bulb Inspector











Let's go out for lunch!













German Roach Baby in a Bassinette






German Cockeroach Spaniel







My roaches LOVE my spaghetti!













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