Pest hit list targeting cockroaches bugs me

By Hannah Leung Source:Global Times Published: 2012-7-4 19:35:05

Unbeknownst to many Beijingers, we are at war. There is a battle against ants, the fifth and latest critters the capital has targeted in its annual pest elimination campaign. Ants join the ranks of rats, flies, mosquitoes and cockroaches, all of which have been targeted. Just writing about this makes me itchy.

I more or less agree with the list. Rats are just plump, nasty vermin, while bedbugs, which were formerly on the list, sent New Yorkers scurrying in complete helplessness when I visited last year.

As for flies and mosquitoes, there's nothing worse than hearing buzzing in your ear pre-slumber. Meanwhile, ants are best observed from afar, despite their tireless work ethic.

But perhaps the most questionable addition to the list is cockroaches. It might not seem that odd, since my informal poll showed that everyone I know has had a battle with the jeepers creepers, even people living in bourgeois residences like myself.

I would have signed up for this citywide extermination campaign back when I was living in my dream apartment complex that, though slightly dilapidated, exuded character and was shared by most of Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai's romanticized protagonists.

At first, I used to take pride in having such impressive cockroach stories to tell. You find out a lot about a person's character when you see how they react to cockroaches.

Some of my squeamish friends, who prefer hotels over hostels, refused to look at my photographic evidence. Others were pleasantly nonchalant and continued eating lunch, smacking their lips. They are the ones I wouldn't survive backpacking around Asia with.

I also secretly harbor a slight respect for cockroaches. After all, if anything survives the apocalypse, it will be these slippery suckers.

All the cockroaches I've encountered in the past have been, well, cocky. The bold, brazen pests weren't bothered by sunlight and would slip out defiantly, scurrying over a mountain of cereal boxes before finding shelter again.

I tried dozens of traps and baits. I once used a brilliant sticky trap with a mound of poison at the center of its adhesive strip. The cockroaches, attracted to the imagined feast, become stuck on the strip, wriggling away to their deaths. Such prolonged cruelty actually made me feel guilty for killing them in such an inglorious manner.

In the end, as summer was approaching, a heavenly time for the magisterial cockroach, I was encountering a slew of housing problems and decided to move out. I simply gave up the fight during the last few days and let my friends roam freely.

In Chinese, cockroaches are occasionally referred to as xiao qiang, literally "small resilient." Likewise, a resilient person is sometimes affectionately compared with a cockroach.

Perhaps this is why cockroaches, though on the list, might prove worth adversaries. Try as you might, you can never fully exterminate them. Isn't there something admirable about their will to adapt and survive? Surely, we wouldn't want to wipe out that.

Posted in: Twocents-Opinion

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