“Now wait a minute,” you say, “it is alright to have an International Owl Awareness Day [August 4, 2015 in fact], but certainly we don’t need to make people aware of cockroaches”.

How well do you know cockroaches? Well, we have known and befriended cockroaches in many parts of the world: in Mexico they inhabited our sleeping bags; in Queensland, Australia they hissed and squished as we walked on them during the night; in PNG they appeared and disappeared as if by magic—we once cleaned out an apartment with spray and had several vacuum cleaner bags full of bodies when we sucked them up. We thought they were eliminated, but millions had simply departed to the next door neighbor’s apartment. And in the U.S., of course, they are found in every state, especially Delaware, where I lived in an old dormitory during college and had roaches as my friends. I head that they left because the smell of DuPont apparently forced them out.

So I ask, “Why not appreciate them?” The Madagascar Hissing Cockroach could become an endangered species—it only lives 2 to 5 years and is small (less than an inch) and easily stepped on. Well, no, not so easily—have you ever tried to step on a cockroach? They are fast as a speeding bullet and are camouflaged, so it is difficult to see them in dark places. And, here is the kicker, you probably don’t want to step on one, for if you squash it, hundreds of babies come squirting out of its belly. (All cockroaches seem to be female—scientifically, it is a wonder!)

It is rumored that ockroaches can be killed. Terminex offers a discounted price of $50 for a starter kit consisting of dangerously abhorrent chemicals. Once the cockroach tastes them it goes belly up, all 14 legs quivering. But 10 minutes later it rolls over, shakes the dust off its back—so to speak—and returns to that dark corner under the sink or into the toilet trap (and crap). There are other ways to get rid of roaches: there are sprays, traps, solutions, home remedies, magic potions, and so on, but none are really successful. I maintain this is because cockroaches should not be killed, especially on their “Awareness Day”. And, mind you, it is difficult not to be aware of them.

A bit of history: Cockroaches, it is claimed, have existed for millions of years and there are thousands of species of them. The first ones were “pets” of the chimpanzees from which we all evolved. The fossil bones of the proto-cockroach species, known as Blatella chimpee, has been found and identified in the corner of a cave in China and is now preserved in the British Museum of unnatural history.

Some of the more common national and international species are the German cockroach, American Cockroach, Oriental cockroach, Surinam cockroach, Florida cockroach and the Waco cockroach. The latter are found mainly along cracks in the the retaining walls that line the Brazos River, but also in many of the cities finest churches and schools. This is because Waco roaches are naturally religious and well-educated.

In Texas, green and yellow-banded roaches are far bigger and fiercer than elsewhere in the world. They jump when disturbed, something like a horse when frightened, and can easily reach the size of an F-150 Ford Pickup’s exhaust pipe. Simply by yelling “Sic Em” Texas roaches will attack dogs and feral pigs. One Texas type flies, often reaching altitudes known only to astronauts. Many years ago when a space shuttle blew up, only the Waco cockroach survived. It was reportedly taken along on the ride for experimental purposes.

That brings us to the real reason for Cockroach Awareness Day. Far too long have these animals been subjected to picks and pokes, chemicals and instruments of torture. In one instance an albino cockroach was painted black and left in the hot Texas summer sun to blister. It was the most inhuman thing ever done to a cockroach and was not without penalty. The picture of the poor black, blistered and wrinkled creature went viral. Other species saw it immediately on their I-bods and called for a non-violent march along 5th street in Waco.

Roaches came to Texas from other places: some from as far away as Oklahoma. I saw them marching and carrying their banners that read: “Don’t tread on us”, “Roaches are Real”, “Don’t Bug Us”, “We Have Feelings Too”, and so on. But, unfortunately, the march turned into rioting. Roaches never like to march in line anyway and, unlike their locust cousins, do not fly in formation. After about 20 meters (roaches only know metric measurements) they dispersed madly. Observers would say later that it was because the cops were there and had big boots on to squash them. Others claimed that the smell of the pizza drove them crazy.

Whatever it was, Waco will never be the same again. You now cannot find a place in town, except maybe the Truet Seminary Chapel, without cockroaches. They are especially fond of the Dr Pepper Museum and the Texas Ranger Museum, but the best place of all is the new football stadium. Any of these locations have the smell of stale food and drink (and other things) and, of course, dark corners. Some have been seen to hide in gun barrels at the Ranger Museum. Others are still found in old bottles and cans at the Dr Pepper Museum.

I mentioned that they are not, at least now, in the Truet Seminary Chapel. Apparently prayer and exorcism have kept them at bay but, just to be sure, the Chapel has a Terminix contract as well and all the professors wear big shoes.

I hope this has convinced you that cockroaches need their special day. After all, according to an ad in the Cameron Zoo newssheet, it was World Lion Day on August 10, World Elephant Day on August 12 and World Lizard Day on August 14. The Latter Day Church cockroaches were especially offended by the lavish publicity for the lizards. Some day, the roaches claim, all of the other animals are going to burn and they alone will rule the world (and exoplanets).

Hail to the cockroach, long live its Queen.

Waco, Texas
July 2015