April 25, 2002
Another Unmatched American Product

Among much else of interest, Eric Olsen of Tres Producers quotes someone named Henry Jenkins who compares bloggers to cockroaches.

The commonest species found in the U.S. is the so-called 'German cockroach', Blatta (or Blattella) germanica. It is about half an inch long, and abundant in most American cities. I'm sure most of my readers have seen more specimens than they would like.

Since moving from Manhattan to small-town Maine in early February, I haven't actually seen any. My students claim they are not found in the state, but that seems unlikely: even if they can't survive outside (in fact, it's snowing right now), surely there are a few in some of the larger and dirtier buildings, at least those that are heated year round? Not that I plan to go looking for them.

There is also a midsized 'Oriental cockroach', but the largest species of cockroach in the world is the 'American cockroach', Periplaneta americana. Not only is it a good two inches long, it can also fly, though it doesn't normally do so when the lights are on. If the German cockroach is the Volkswagen of the cockroach family, the American is the Cadillac or Lincoln Continental. The fact that it is the biggest, best, and most disgusting species of cockroach is one of the many things that make me proud to be an American. My illustration, not much more than life-sized, was borrowed from Ohio State University's Fact Sheet on the American cockroach: most of the facts provided are methods for killing them. (From the 89 illustrations provided by Google, I thought I should use a line drawing rather than a color picture so as not to upset my more sensitive readers.)

By the way, since blatta is the general Latin term for cockroach, the technical name for 'killing cockroaches' is 'blatticide'. A friend has suggested on the Internet Classics list that this is onomatopoeic. In fact the Latin name looks as if it too may be: scurry scurry scurry scurry BLATT!

Update: Since OSU seems to have moved or deleted both the picture and the text, I have now (4/28, 9:15 AM) substituted a different image, from a Dutch site which shall remain nameless. I only mention that it is Dutch so I can quote the title: De Amerikaanse Kakkerlak. I hope that's not enough for them to track me down and sue me.

Posted by Dr. Weevil at April 25, 2002 11:06 PM