Sometimes it pays to know your pests.
Thu Aug 10 2006
Living in New York, we cohabit with a host of crawly, multilegged critters—most notably the German cockroach. And while this is the case year-round, it’s more noticeable in hot weather, when it seems like your whole place is being overrun by undesirable roomies. Wanting to burrow deep into the ins and outs of entomological New York, TONY contacted Louis Sorkin of the American Museum of Natural History to shine a flashlight on the five most common insects in Gotham apartments.—Daniel Derouchie
What’s that bug? German cockroach
Latin name Blattella germanica
Where they lurk Kitchens and bathrooms, but will go anywhere food is stored
How they breed Continuously! Female sports 30--40 eggs in a nifty carrying case.
Amazing skill Will thrive for two weeks with no food or water, and up to a month on water alone
Most disgusting habit Will bite and feed off crumbs or food residue of those sleeping. Have even invaded the ear canals and nostrils of tots.
Misconception Squishing a cockroach will spread a fertile female’s eggs. In reality, the chance of the eggs surviving a “crash” is slim.
Killing them Hydramethylnon (found in Combat and Maxforce)
What’s that bug? American cockroach (water bug)
Latin name Periplaneta americana
Where they lurk Around bathtubs and drains
How they breed Can have 14--16 eggs hatching in a 50--55-day period
Amazing skill It’s one of the fastest land insects in the world, clocked at 3.4mph. They’re also very capable flyers.
Most disgusting habit Not known to bite, but might nibble on a baby’s fingernail if the opportunity arises. They also carry disease organisms and contaminate food.
Misconception When cornered, these large roaches will attack humans kamikaze-style. Actually, they’re flying toward a darker area to hide.
Killing them Boric acid. Squashing them works too.
What’s that bug? Silverfish
Latin name Lepisma saccharina
Where they lurk Cool basements and laundry rooms. Have been known to get stuck in the tub.
How they breed Can lay 100 eggs during a life span. Eggs are laid singly.
Amazing skill They can go for up to one year without food.
Most disgusting habit If grabbed, they will shed their scalelike skin and leave it.
Misconception Thought to be a seasonal interloper living a year at most, the silverfish actually has a long life span of 5--7 years.
Killing them Silverfish packs or glue boards
What’s that bug? House centipede
Latin name Scutigera coleoptrata
Where they lurk Usually found on bathroom or bedroom walls, or trapped in the sink
How they breed Female centipede lays 63--150 eggs. When hatched, can live 3--7 years.
Amazing skill Willing to lose one of its 30 legs if attacked. The trembling appendage usually captivates an enemy long enough for the bug to flee.
Most disgusting habit Their rapid crawling frightens people, as they appear to be gliding like a snake.
Misconception Believed to bite and excrete a poisonous venom. Rarely do they bite; venom is lethal only to insects.
Killing them Let them live! They eat roaches.
What’s that bug? Black carpet beetle
Latin name Attagenus unicolor
Where they lurk These critters like to hang in kitchen cupboards and closets
How they breed Female will lay 42--114 eggs. They are deposited along baseboards. About 50 survive.
Amazing skill Can chill out in a freezer for six days
Most disgusting habit After feasting on one of your favorite wool garments, the carpet beetle larvae may leave a gift, by shedding its bristly-looking, shell-like skin
Misconception People often mistake their “handiwork” on garments for that of a moth’s.
Killing them Vacuuming is critical. Toss the bag afterward.
Note: Pictures are not to scale