They Checked In, …And They Seem to Have Checked Out!

I’ve started to write this post many times only to decide that it’s a silly topic not worth addressing, but when I’m thinking about my everyday life growing up in SoHo, these little guys seem to keep crawling back into my mind, so here it goes—ROACHES.

If you lived in a loft in SoHo (and probably most other areas in New York City) in the 1970’s, cockroaches were pretty much a part of your nuclear family.  When I was little, every time I came home and turned on the lights, a swarm of cockroaches would scramble for cover.  There were so many that it sometimes looked as if the walls were moving.  I became so immune to their ickiness that I’d just run into the kitchen and slam as many with my hands as possible before they got away.  Gross, huh?  And probably none too hygienic either.  What was I thinking, that I was going to wipe them all out with my bare hands?

We tried Raid and insect bombs and roach motels and boric acid and nothing seemed to get rid of them.  And them Combat came along and seemed to do the trick.  Those little black disks you place behind counters and under the sink.  I’m not even sure how they work.  In any case, I don’t really know if it was the combat, but at some point, the roaches kind of disappeared.

I thought cockroaches were supposed to be able to survive a nuclear explosion.  What ever happened to them?  They used to be such a big part of my everyday life, and at some point they vanished into thin air.  I don’t think I’ve seen one in years.  Is this a result of “gentrification”?  Do the gentry naturally repel unwelcome insects (That’s what Giuliani seemed to think…)?  Is that why there are no mosquitoes in the Hamptons?  I know entire New York neighborhoods are still infested with them, but they seemed to have moved to the outskirts of the City, leaving (the new) SoHo unscathed.  I bet if they did a study, they would find that number of roaches in SoHo is inversely proportional to the number of investment bankers moving in.  Maybe the bankers PAID them to go away.  And, hey, I’m not complaining, just making an observation is all.

D-ConFour Gone Commercial with Muhammad Ali
Unfortunately,  these roach “bombs” were not so effective.

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9 Responses to “They Checked In, …And They Seem to Have Checked Out!”

  1. Sean Says:

    I think their demise was due the roach motel, probably the Combat brand. Roaches seemed to disappear within a few years of its introduction

    After years of not seeing one, I did get an infestation last year, however. Combat did the job in a few weeks.

    I also used to see more rats on the street. When I moved into my loft on Mercer in the 70s, there were rats there. I don’t like killing mammals unnecessarily just because they look sleekit, so I cleaned up their droppings, got rid of any old debris, borrowed a cat for a week, and never saw another rat.
    Why I don’t see them on the street and sidewalk as much in the past few years may be due to gentrification, as the new arrivals are likely quicker to eradicate them than the old landlords were.

    Then there was that infestation of peculiar looking moths a lot of my neighbors and I had in the 80s and 90s. Someone suggested it was due to all the textile from the wool manufacturers that offered them haven. A truly local epidemic.

    However, vermin have a way of morphing. In the last few months, my building has – ready? – a waterbug invasion. That’s right. Those huge, mega roaches, also called palmetto bugs in the South.

    Combat’s motel is too small for them to check in and not check out, and they are way too big to kill by hand, unlike the roaches. Slamming them with newspapers won’t get them in their lair. SoHo, beware this invasion!

    Being diplomatic, I won’t discuss the investment bankers.

    • Yukie Says:

      I was overrun by waterbugs recently as well! I put out GIANT Combat and they disappeared. What is in those things? On second thought, I guess I’d rather not know. And since when are you diplomatic (ha ha)?

      • Sean Says:

        With Combat and other type roach motels, I believe inside is some type of pheromone, or the like, a hormone that attracts others of the species. There are sex pheromones, food-trail pheromones, etc.
        So, not quite sure, but I think there may also be food inside, mixed with poison.
        Don’t bet the family farm on that explanation, but I recall hearing something like that when Combat first came out.

        So, what is it with these waterbugs? You’ve never had them? Me neither.
        I would see them years ago occasionally in others’ basements, or in homes in Florida, but never in apartments in NY. I killed 3 in a month.
        Duane Reade had no Combat for waterbugs in stock, but I’ll look around at hardware stores, etc.

        Could someone have planted a colony of them here to reproduce and spread, reducing property values and pushing back gentrification? lol

      • Sean Says:

        Thank God for Google:

        How do Combat® baits work?
        Answer: Combat® roach bait and ant bait are made of mostly food ingredients and a small amount of insecticide. The food ingredients are formulated with nutrients that Roaches and Ants need to survive, attracting pests to the bait. Insects eat the bait and return to the nest, where they share the bait with others, contaminating and killing the roach nest or ant colony. Combat® roach baits and ant baits contain insecticides optimized for speed of kill and transfer to achieve maximum control. Combat roach killing gel and ant killing gel work in the same way as do solid baits, except that the food and insecticide combination is in a gel form, instead of concealed in a bait station.

  2. Ed Ward Says:

    Ah, here’s where I have it over you! When I lived in Texas I had roaches until my last year, when one day, looking at the wall, I saw the ugliest lizard I’d ever seen. It was green, but…transparent. I was ecstatic: I finally had a gecko. Geckos look at cockroaches and think of Doritos. I didn’t see another cockroach the entire time I was in that house.

    And here in France, we don’t have cockroaches, but there are other bugs. Although not in my apartment. I got a visit earlier in the year from a Moroccan gecko (brown, much more attractive than the Texas variety) and he’s taken over the house. I saw him on my desk, and I’ve seen him in the bathroom. In fact, I just heard him bark (a kind of burping sound) a few minutes ago.

    Too bad the climate in New York doesn’t favor geckos. They don’t freeze well.

  3. Yukie Says:

    Someone could make a fortune if only we could convince geckos that New York is a reptile-friendly environment! And they even bark. Man’s new best friend?

  4. nina Says:

    Ha , Geckos are great!

    It’s true that there seem to be less roaches in New York these days.
    Back in the day I was fond of combat but I also found cats to to be a great roach deterrent. My husbands thinks one cat per 500 square feet keeps all vermin away. At least it is working for us.

  5. Yukie Says:

    But what if your loft is 3,000 square feet? You’d need 6 cats! I like cats, but….!

  6. Michael Says:

    I endorse Combat (disks and gels) and I don’t even get paid to do so. After having a problem neighbor who brought roaches into the apartment building I live in (she was evicted and very soon after the place was treated by a pest service), no other product worked as fast and effective as Combat did in killing off the overflow of her infestation. Boric acid is good, but in most cases it doesn’t have a lure, so if the bugs don’t step on it, they live and thrive. You have to know how to apply boric acid, and then it takes time to work. What a pain in the neck. I’m not an expert and I don’t have time.

    I use Combat roach disks as a preventative measure now. Whether you see roaches or not, every 3 months you replace the old disks with new disks inside the cabinets underneath the kitchen sink and bathroom sink, near the back of the fridge, etc. Any potential roach population doesn’t stand a chance in establishing itself. The poison in the disks will kill them off before they even start a community.

    Investment bankers didn’t pay roaches to go away. They hired a quality pest service that uses the latest in pesticides. But once you get rid of the roaches, don’t assume they’re gone for good. You need to do maintenance just in case they slip into the building again.
    That’s the trick. Keep up a clean apartment building combined with everyone doing the same preventative maintenance in their lofts, apartments, etc., and roaches are a thing of the past.

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