I'd rather not be our block's roach coroner forever.
August 10, 2013 6:55 AM   Subscribe

For years, my Brooklyn apartment never had a single roach. Now I'm finding huge, dead waterbug roaches all over. Why?

We live in a Brooklyn brownstone house which is connected on each side to other apartments. It's not most shipshape of places, but we've been lucky on the bug front for the past 4 years. I attributed the lack of those huge waterbug roaches to luck and our three cats, who are bored indoor creatures who'd love nothing more than to hunt something other than a catnip toy.

Now, over the past few weeks, I've been finding the bodies of waterbug roaches, stone cold dead, belly-side up. My cats have not killed them, as they very much in tact when discovered.

I mean, it's better than them being alive, I suppose, because I am seriously phobic of those mofos, so I'd rather them go somewhere else to die so I don't have to swear a blue streak once a morning while gingerly disposing of their bodies. What's going on?

Some possibilities I've considered:

-Our upstairs roommate has recently been working a ton, and he's prone to leaving a couple dirty dishes in his room for days before washing them.
-There's construction going on couple houses down on a place that was previously abandoned, and it has definitely unsettled more rats (yeah, fun), so maybe it's extending to the roach population?
-A plumbing issue I am not aware of
-something else?

I would really love to get this problem taken care of soon. Any advice is appreciated.
posted by Viola to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Oh, also: New York lore says that the little roaches are the bad kind that signal an infestation, and the big suckers are loners who travel up through plumbing. This is why I didn't initially freak out when I found one or two a week, but now it's more. I've seen zero roaches who are still alive. It's all a bit different from what I understand of regular infestations, though if anyone more knowledgable about unwanted bugs says that's what it is, you can bet I'll hire the meanest roach-assassinating exterminator ever.
posted by Viola at 7:03 AM on August 10, 2013

That you're finding them dead suggests to me that an exterminator has already been through. Has any of your neighbours had one through recently?
posted by olinerd at 7:20 AM on August 10, 2013

Yep. This is what usually happens in the period of days after the exterminator comes through your unit and/or neighboring units. In buildings where there is a regular extermination schedule, this starts to become a regular occurrence.
posted by superfem at 7:57 AM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

When I've lived or worked in row buildings I found that roaches came and went in waves. I won't even propose a theory as to why this might be true, but they seemed to come and go on their own timetable.

I grew up in NYC and agree with your assessment of big v. little roaches. The little ones invade your pantry and have parties in the kitchen after lights out. The big ones are on their way somewhere else.
posted by workerant at 7:58 AM on August 10, 2013

My cat tortures these things to death, leaving them fully intact (what is there for a cat to eat, anyway?). In fact I found one face up and deadish in the cat bowl this morning. So I wouldn't discount the cat theory...
posted by operating thetan at 8:28 AM on August 10, 2013

By the way, if these are palmetto bugs (what we call waterbugs down here in the South) then they search for water, not slovenly housekeeping crumbs. Probably a combo of heavy extermination spray and that construction you mentioned.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:33 AM on August 10, 2013

I also live in a brownstone and had two of these last week. They were definitely cat casualties, but not munched on at all. I also shooed one back out that was trying to come in the kitchen window.

We haven't had any in the last couple years, but had several a few summers ago. I think it's just that time of the year.
posted by mgar at 1:00 PM on August 10, 2013

Generally, big brown roach = American Cockroach and small dark brown-to-black roach = German Cockroach. The Americans don't really thrive indoors, but the Germans exist and multiply in tandem with humans.
posted by Exchequer at 1:56 PM on August 10, 2013

No idea if this might be true, but could the flooding during Sandy have moved some of them from their low-lying homes into higher neighborhoods, and now they are coming indoors?
posted by CathyG at 1:58 PM on August 10, 2013

I notice that they also come inside to avoid extreme weather such as a heatwave or storms.
posted by Schielisque at 2:16 PM on August 10, 2013

the exterminator won't spray in my apartment because my three monsters are in the apartment, and these three monsters eat any roach that dares show itself, so whenever there IS a roach it is one of those giant fuckers as refugees, most of the time dead (sometimes just dying /shudder)
posted by angrycat at 6:34 PM on August 10, 2013

Big roaches like that don't infest your house, they come in from outside.

From what I understand it's been an unusually hot and humid summer in NYC. That's the type of weather that will send big roaches indoors in search of water and cool temperatures. I also feel like NYC summers have been getting more and more tropical with each passing year (to the point of even having tropical precipitation and storm patterns, lately). Big "waterbug" roaches are part and parcel of that.

Also, summer heat causes people to leave their windows open, which gives them another means of entrance.
posted by Sara C. at 9:27 PM on August 10, 2013

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