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Winning the War on Cockroaches

Surviving an orchestrated jihad-style campaign by the Melbourne cockroach community to destroy my domestic home life.

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve had a problem with cockroaches lately.

I’m not speaking of finding the odd “roach” in the kitchen, but an orchestrated jihad-style campaign by the Melbourne cockroach community to destroy my domestic home life.

You see, these cockroaches are not the usual shy and nocturnal sort. Nor the refined sort that Danny Katz writes about. These are militant roaches who’d willingly sacrifice their own lives for The Cause. No quest is too arduous if it means they succeed in ruining a nice evening at home.

They remind me of the scene involving Goldie Hawn and the “Cockroach from Hell” in Bird on a Wire . Read on and find out why…

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
Footage from Bird on a Wire (1990).


I keep a tidy residence. I am a tidy person. There is no justification for cockroaches to be present at all! In fact I never saw one until a few weeks ago, yet now they’ve decided that my residence will be centre stage for their evil campaign.

One night recently I was making tea . Lain upon my chopping board was a prime chicken breast fillet, ready to prepare. For a mere second, I turned away and when I brought my attention back to the fillet there was a salivating roach sitting on the edge of my cutting board, with misplaced culinary intentions.

Concerned not to see a good piece of meat go to waste , I tried to frighten the roach into running away from my dinner but alas, it wasn’t going to give up so easily. Tapping the space between the roach and the fillet with my kitchen knife momentarily caused it to back off before turning around and preparing another lunge at my meal. I couldn’t spray the roach (lest I contaminate my dinner) nor crush it for fear of getting roach debris on my dinner. In the end I had to use the knife to sweep the roach off the benchtop, whereupon it became a martyr for The Cause.

Adam 1: Cockroaches: 0

Clearly the roaches didn’t take well to this defeat, and so another was dispatched to claim victory for The Cause. Where the first failed, the second succeeded.

Two days later I’d prepared some lightly crumbed fish fillets that I was about to place into my oven. As I opened the door and lowered the baking tray onto the shelf, a giant cockroach leapt from the upper rim of the oven straight onto my fillet! And whilst the brief exposure at 180°C ultimately proved lethal, the mission had been accomplished. My meal was ruined and the roaches had made their revenge.

Adam 1: Cockroaches: 1

Furious that my cooking had gone to waste and disgusted at what had just happened, I decided that something had to be done. So off to Coles I went and purchased some Mortein Lure’n’Kill bates. But terrorist cockroaches don’t fall for such old tricks, and so more came to cause mischief. It seemed that the “tempting honey and soy baits” weren’t so tempting after all.

Because less than a week after the leaping cockroach had robbed me of my fish fillet, three roaches come to visit me, including the Mother of All Cockroaches.

Cockroach in Glass
The Mother of All Cockroaches. Body length 6.5 cm, total length 10.5 cm.

I was sitting at my computer one night when I heard a loud rustling sound and turned to see a giant cockroach fighting for balance on the cord to my telephone. Of course as soon as I moved near it, it dropped to the ground and hid under a table.

This posed quite a dilemma. I had to ask myself whether I should try and crush it, or try and capture it? Crushing it would have made an almighty mess, and given the size of the beast, outright slaughter could have raised the ire of the RSPCA on grounds of “animal cruelty”. So I tried to capture it.

With a glass and postcard in hand, I tried to trap it but obviously fearing for its life, it kept running back and fourth to evade me. Eventually, using some advanced psychological techniques, I trapped it in my glass and was simply stunned at what lay before me.

For the Mother of All Cockroaches was 10.5 centimetres long, of which 6.5 cm was body length! Gross! Being the keen photographer that I am, this was a photo opportunity not to be missed.

Of course the Mother of All Cockroaches didn’t like being caught and confined in a cramped drinking glass. So she stood up on her hind two legs and tried to push the glass over. I kid you not. Can you believe it?

It was at this time that I decided that serious action had to be taken – I decided to bomb the roaches. And whilst cockroaches may be able to survive a nuclear holocaust, they sure can’t survive a Mortein Control Bomb.

I can proudly declare that my roach problem is finally over (for now). I have won the contest. Game Over. Let’s hope there’s no Round Two, ugh!



11 responses to “Winning the War on Cockroaches”

On 11 January 2008, Daniel wrote: Hyperlink chain icon

Oh gross. I’ve been having my own problems in this department. I did use bombs last year, and that got rid of them for quite a few months. But they’re back, so I need to organise another round.

In the mean time I’m using a Baygon spray which kills them (and allegedly keeps them at bay) without squashing them and getting roach guts everywhere.

On 11 January 2008, Adam Dimech wrote: Hyperlink chain icon

I am glad you had success with the bomb last year. I guess 12 months is a fairly good period of protection. As for spraying, I have found they can be very slow to kill with Mortein so maybe Baygon’s the way to go if they return.

On 14 January 2008, Frank wrote: Hyperlink chain icon

I’ve actually had some success with the baits, but it means I keep finding dead cockroaches on the floor – not nice to tread on with bare feet.
I first started seeing them a year ago and understand they come inside looking for moisture in the drought. Have found them in my underwear and once impersonating a bookmark in the book by my bed – ugh.
I find a rolled-up Green Guide is very effective in despatching them.

On 24 January 2008, Alison wrote: Hyperlink chain icon

I hope you’ve won the war as well as the battle!! We’ve been having ongoing cockroach issues ever since moving to the inner city…damn things! I find them most distressing in a) the fridge and b) the bathroom – I feel so vulnerable when I’m in the shower & I spot one. We now have their numbers down (and getting lower every winter) but a few come back each summer. Good luck!!!

On 2 February 2008, James wrote: Hyperlink chain icon

Adam – you should come to Sydney where cockroaches are not pests, but pets. You quickly develop a resistance to them after a while.

On 2 February 2009, Me wrote: Hyperlink chain icon

Get a cat.

On 2 February 2009, Belinda wrote: Hyperlink chain icon

I can handle the giant cockroaches- the ones who understand the rules; only come out at night, run when you hear a human coming. But my roaches exsist in the form of these tiny little things, absolutly everywhere- food or no food (to the point where they would fly out at me when I open cupboard doors) The war begun over the weekend- bombs, baits and surface spray. I just hope I don’t poison myself….

On 30 June 2010, Helen Lambourne wrote: Hyperlink chain icon

Hello Adam and friends,
Your cockroach stories are very entertaining.
I am in London, UK making an Animal Planet show about pests invading the home and we are looking for a cockroach story in Australia. Know one?
You can reach me on

On 22 November 2010, danny wrote: Hyperlink chain icon

what a horrible story, but alas mine is starting to get like that. its like my house is an insect brothal, im kinds worried about feeling one in my bed.

it makes me feel so dirty.

On 13 February 2017, Trevor Tutt wrote: Hyperlink chain icon

That’s gross! I really hate it when they spoil the food I was about to eat! Good thing pest control professionals helped me on how I can deal with these pests. So I never again encountered these annoying pests at home.

On 8 August 2017, Grant Wetherall wrote: Hyperlink chain icon

Gross. I don’t like cockroaches either. Congrats that you’ve won the war! 😀

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