Since I returned to Chicago six years ago, now, I cannot recall having seen a fly. Nor have I seen a mosquito. Both exist in profusion in northern Wisconsin, together with a plethora of other creeping, crawling, flying beasties. I do not miss them.
But what Chicago has that northern Wisconsin does not is cockroaches. Lots of cockroaches. Lots and lots of cockroaches. I wasn't aware of that fact until I moved into my first apartment here. It had roaches. Lots and lots of roaches. And no matter what I did or how hard I tried to get rid of them, there they were. They loved nothing better than to wait until they thought I wasn't paying attention to stroll casually up my pant leg or down my arm with the attitude of having every right to be there.
I can totally understand how cockroaches have managed to be around, basically unchanged, for several million years and why they will probably be here long after we humans are gone. They are nothing if not tenacious, and I have strong reason to question those who say that they are not aware of us or our intentions toward them.
I hate killing any living thing. Really, I do. Even roaches, but saintliness is saintliness and roaches are roaches, so when I discovered my apartment was also a cockroach convention center, I set aside my morals and did my best to keep my apartment clear of them. It was a losing proposition, and both I and the roaches knew it. I could kill every single roach in my apartment and ten minutes later they would be replaced by friends and relatives coming in from air ducts, small cracks around plumbing and electrical conduits.
I normally kept a can of Raid Roach Killer at the ready. But if I saw a roach in the bathroom, the can was invariably in the kitchen, and if I saw a roach in the kitchen, the can was in the bathroom. And by the time I got to the can and back to where I saw the roach, it was long gone. I sometimes was sure I could hear it chortling, but I’m not sure.
When I ran out of Raid, I would try another 100% absolutely-positively-guaranteed roach-killing spray. The roaches loved it! I would see a roach, spray it, and it would pause long enough to contemplate whether to fetch a small bar of soap and bottle of shampoo or an umbrella before going about its business. So I devised new, fairly foolproof methods of extermination: I hit it with my shoe. (If they were on the floor, I'd stomp on them. If they were on the wall or a cabinet or anywhere I couldn't stomp, I'd remove my shoe and swat them with it.)
And then I moved to another building, and...not a single roach since! I suspect it is because hey could not find my forwarding address.
While I'm sure there must have been cockroaches in Wisconsin, I never saw them. Other than the flies and mosquitoes, Wisconsin’s beasties seem to be of gentler creatures…especially ladybugs. Wisconsin abounds in ladybugs, which are really rather pretty little things. I have found them to be downright social at times, and they seem to have taken a liking to me. At certain periods of the year they swarm in great number, climbing all over the outside of window screens apparently seeking a way in. Each year there would be several which took up permanent residence inside my house. There was one (I would like to think it the same one, since I grew rather fond of it) which resided on my bathroom sink. I’d come down in the morning, and there it would be, patiently doing whatever it is that serves to pass the time for ladybugs. Usually, it just sat there, apparently daydreaming, until I would give it a gentle nudge with the tip of my finger, at which point it would wander around a bit with no apparent clear destination in mind. One day I noticed it on the rim of a water glass I kept on the sink. It obviously had someplace it had to be…a luncheon engagement, perhaps…and it had chosen the rim of the water glass as an unobstructed route to get there. I kept watching it all the time I was in the room, and it never slowed its pace. When I left, it was still walking purposefully, apparently confident that it was making great progress and would reach wherever it had set out to go in short order.
Ladybugs are pretty, but they are not the brightest of God’s creatures. Cockroaches are not pretty, but I wouldn’t sell them short in the mental department. I wonder how long ladybugs have been around?
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1 ).