The pesticide chronicles

I am pleased to inform gentle reader that I have been allowed back into the High Doganate, and so may now upload another Idlepost. (See yesterday.) All I need is to think of a topic. … Very well then. …

Did you know? That nicotine is a natural insecticide, and cockroach repellant? I knew this, but only vaguely until I looked it up. It was a suspicion that arose from the fact that I don’t have cockroaches (now proved), in a building which is infested by them (as evidence the exterminators who drove us all out on the streets today).

Nicotine may be found not only in tobacco but many other plants. It is the plant’s own protection from insect pests. This is a “duh” proposition. Ingested, it will kill cockroaches; I would tell you how, but it is too gross. A tobacco-rich atmosphere may not kill any, but will at least drive them off, to the flat of the conceited non-smoker next door. (Yet another win/win for tobacco.)

Too, I like to wash things with borax. Borax is good; and harmless in most applications. Do not eat it, however. Cockroaches (and some other insect pests) can hardly taste it. But it is no good for them at all. They are touchie-feelie animals (a cockroach wants to feel surfaces on both sides of him). They spread the residues around, streaking it into all the recesses and cracks where their wives or mistresses and children are hiding. (Female cockroaches are harder to get because they are real home-bodies. One’s roach traps will fill mostly with able-bodied males of military age.)

But if you really want to give your Blattaria a hard time, steep your cigarette butts in water overnight, or longer, and paint the liquid here and there. It’s organic. And it has great staying power. (Come spring, you may want to use it in your garden, too: not on the flowers, which is over the top, but splashed and dribbled in the soil around them.)

My gun-loving readers may prefer the kill-on-contact approach. But stomping cockroaches is a fool’s game; you will never win. They go places where your shoes can’t reach them. And once the light is on, they go there fast.

In my good old days, of childhood in Lahore, some time back in a previous century, all we needed was a spray-can of “Flit,” or DDT. Very quick and effective on the smaller beasties, and eventually on the large. And one didn’t have to move a thing; one just sprayed everywhere. If it got on the plates in the pantry, one gave them an extra wipe. Life was so simple then. Until Rachel Carson came along.

And in my Idler magazine days, we ran an article with the title, “Rachel Carson killed millions.” It was by an Italian gentleman who had calculated the number of Third World deaths that resulted from the U.S. ban on DDT — by adding together the estimated tolls from all the epidemics that could have been prevented by generous spraying of the same. The ban had to be observed by every government that wished to continue receiving Yanqui foreign aid. This in turn was needed in all developing countries, to line the pockets of their ruling classes. Moreover, by obviating work and investment (“capitalism”), it helps keep the poor in their place.

Indeed, one small joy, on my return to the High Doganate this evening, after hours on the street very cold, waiting for the pesticides to settle, was the scent of the place. It reminded me of the DDT of my childhood, and made me feel so nostalgic. Alas, the exterminators wouldn’t let me stick around, to see what they were using. Can I get it in a hardware store, I wondered? Not because I need it; just because I like the smell.

That, and the Dettol, which I praised yesterday.

Big cities. Full of pests. (The Trudeau boy was in town today, as I saw from the widescreen in a hamburger joint, while I was trying to eat. The media actually cheering him at a press conference, as he um’d and ah’d through their softball questions, then tossed us sixty billion from his petty cash.)

And here we are, picking on the smallest. Which does strike me as cowardly, sometimes, and a little unfair.