You have probably heard of the term “Flight or Fight Response” and not only associated with cockroaches. It is when an animal in a dangerous situation will either flee or stay to fight in order to survive. In both cases that animal is normally flooded with adrenaline after a perceived threat is assessed.
Perception of threats. That is what it comes down to. The interesting fact is that not all threats are perceived in the same way, or in the same manner. Many mammals use sight and smell to sense danger. In the world of cockroaches, they have evolved a different approach for that same tactic at survival.
When you normally see a cockroach, it’s when you turn on a light or move something they were hiding under. You would assume that it’s the light that makes them scurry away, as they are normally nocturnal in nature. That assumption is a bit incorrect; one, even I had made.
Cockroaches have a very stimulus based sense of perception when it comes to threats and a flight response; I haven’t seen any cases of a fight response, yet.
Along the legs of cockroaches are many different downwards pointing hairs, at the base of each hair on the leg there is a mechanoreceptor running next to a nerve. A mechanoreceptor sounds exactly like what it is. It’s a receptor that is activated by movement, which triggers a mechanical reaction. So when that hair is moved, it activates the mechanoreceptor to send a signal along the nerve; for the cockroach to run.
That hair can be moved by as little as the vibrations in a footstep across a room, or the air displaced by a foot coming down to stomp the cockroach. It is a very handy survival mechanism and has helped the cockroach to survive millions of years and many extinctions (think the dinosaurs). It appears that when that hair is moved by the appropriate stimuli, the response to flee is very fast, and somewhat not up to the cockroach. That’s why they move so fast when you see them, it’s like a knee-jerk reaction. Almost literally.
The really interesting part to me is that it’s not just you turning on the light when you walk into a room that makes a cockroach run. It is more based on that they sense you by the vibrations of your steps, which is what makes them run.
I would like to explain this best with an example of how amazing this tactic works for them.
Let’s say that you have a cockroach that lives in a very loud place such as around the bars on N Colleges Street in Uptown Charlotte. It’s has a ton of foot traffic, is most active at night when cockroaches are active, and is so loud that the air literally is vibrating with music and people. You would think that this little cockroach would be frantically scurrying everywhere under the constant stimuli moving their little leg hairs and making them run non-stop. That assumption would be a bit wrong as well.
Nerves and sense work a bit the same in both of us. If something is constantly stimulating a nerve signal, that nerve becomes less sensitive to activate to that stimuli over time. It’s why we can’t constantly feel the clothes on our skin. Think about it. Remember when you were little and you hated putting clothes on because you were constantly aware of them and their sensation? (I myself hated those little ends of the socks with the seam). Your body learned to stop being so sensitive to that stimuli and now’s it just background noise which you don’t process, otherwise you would go crazy.
It’s a bit the same for that cockroach on N College Street. He had to get used to his living space or he wouldn’t survive long because he was reacting to the wrong stimulus. If he constantly runs from everything, he’s not eating. He dies. If he runs from one wrongly perceived threat into an actual one. He dies.
This concept is important. You need to understand how a cockroach perceives an environment it lives in. The sense of perception which allows a cockroach to survive in such a place as your home is knowledge which can be used against it. This is just a facet of its life cycle. A professional pest control agent uses every bit of that knowledge for an insect that is a pest in a home; to effectively combat it.
If you are experiencing issues with roaches in your home, do yourself a favor, hire a professional with the knowledge to help you best.
It’s freezing outside, but it’s cozy in the house. Many people are in that winter mode of cranking up the central heating and refusing to leave the comfort of their warm beds in the morning, at this time of year. Human beings are one of the few species in the world that can change the climate of their living environments. I know that you are probably thinking “Wait a minute? One of?”.
There are some truly fascinating creatures out there who regulate their own internal body temps or can regulate the outside temps. Nature has been doing things better for millions of years before we came along, you just have to look. I digress, this article isn’t about kick ass bugs in the desert, or how hummingbirds go into a functional coma on cold nights.
What I am writing about today, is the illusion we create of that warm house in the middle of winter; being pest free.
Think about it for a second. In a dreary winter landscape, there are entire islands of neighborhoods out there each cocooning a little world of heat inside. Your house, on a given street, an oasis of heat surrounded by cold. Of course, you are going to see pests. We have created the perfect environment for pests in Winter, because on the inside of your home…Winter never happened.
Many insect pest species lay their eggs in the Winter or go into dormancy. Some even specialize in Winter time, while others make do all year long. This is not even including the warm-blooded pests such as rodents.
For today I will focus on just insects. You may have read the article on Firebrats, those guys are a little on the extreme end themselves. It would be too convoluted for the sake of a blog article to go through the many types of egg-laying cycles, seasonal ability, and other various aspects of life cycles in detail for just even one classification of insect type.
What I am going to talk about is purely conceptual in explanation, and explain how what may be a negative situation for you at the moment, is, in fact, a perfect opportunity.
Many people have insects in the home at low numbers which they normally don’t encounter. Many times you will see insects start to transfer into the home as the days grow shorter and colder.
The likelihood of pests getting into your home in the middle of Winter is low, but the likelihood of them already being in there before Winter goes into full swing as you start to barricade the house from the ravages of Winter? Pretty good actually.
The issue people have in Winter with pests in the home usually lies with the fact that there were ones in the house, to begin with. It gets a little complicated depending on the type and its lifecycle. You can have one species be problematic all Winter inside the home, or you can have an explosive boom occur right before spring as the eggs hatch from being dormant.
On the temperature side of things, you have created an internal environment where it is warm in a Winter landscape. It’s possible that any insects present in your home before Winter, may very well carry on unhindered by the normal temp drop, thereby making your home an incubator or sorts for a variety pest species unbeknownst to you. They will most likely still be less active than they normally are, but they will make their presence known in abundance at the slightest hint of Spring.
I mentioned this being a perfect opportunity; because it is. The fact that it’s Winter outside is a great tool. Winter is a great time to treat the home, even if you are not seeing anything at the moment. It re-enforces a barrier and eliminates any insects in the home which might pop up in Spring. The best part is that since it is Winter, you are a lot less likely to have any issues of more insects coming in from the outside at this time, especially after a treatment. Think of it as a pre-Spring cleaning.
If you don’t already have a normal pest control technician visiting your home on a scheduled basis, this is the time to start. In my opinion, the pest control New Year starts in Mid-Winter. It is the best time to be pro-active with pest control before Spring comes along, especially if you are indeed noticing any pests. If you already have a service, ask them for a refresher at this time. If they try and talk you out of the need, maybe think of finding a new pest control company within the Charlotte area.