I have my bare feet planted on the rug. I am at my desk. Suddenly, I feel something ticklish run over my toes. This immediately draws my attention away from the document I am reading. I look under the desk. Behold, a cockroach.

In my apartment complex, the man who sprays poison comes around once every two months. Usually, then, I enjoy an environment in which, silently and without me having to think about it, vermin die. They die out of my sight. I imagine the spray is some kind of pyrethroid. The poison operates on the cockroach’s central nervous system, causing repetitive firings – thus the jiggly behavior, Nerve blockage then ensues. The effect of the pyrethroids causes sodium channel modification, and in some insects the nerves will burst. Temperature changes can modify the effect. To sum it up, “the depolarizing nerve blockage caused by prolonged sodium influx into nerve axons is the primary cause of pyrethroid toxicity to insects.” So say Huber,Masler and Blakrishna in Cockroaches as models for Neurobiology. About 800 million dollars is spent in the U.S. each year to put down the German Cockroach. Thus, a gigantic, silent poison rain comes drifting down, and still, the thing that tickled me has evaded it.

Forcing me to take action. Already,obviously, the bug is confused. It senses a leaping up and down of a large and dangerous presence. So it shuffles forwards, and finds to its horror that there is some kind of thwacking, falling entity in that direction, which calls for reversing direction. It promptly does so and seeks a dark place, in which it remains for a half a minute, getting its bearings. Its little hairs are on high alert. It is sensing different zones of temperature and light. Then it makes a dash for home – which would probably involve climbing down a pipe, or going through a duct that is cut in the apartment for hvac air passage. The last thing it senses is a space to rush over and then it feels, along every nerve and through its thorax, its carapace, and legs the greatest pressure it has ever known, a tremendous and impossible flattening, as if all it had ever lived for was a lie. And then nothing.

‘The desire to control the indoor climate with air conditioning units to mitigate extremes of temperature, moisture, and airflow sets the stage for several cockroach species to infest and inhabit homes. The presense of some domestic species in dwellings, such as the German or brown banded cockroaches, is often a sign of poor sanitation or substandard housekeeping.” (Lockley, Ledford)