The previous summer's record-setting heat may have withered agricultural output, but, as hot, humid weather is wont to do, it produced a bumper crop of insect pests, particularly the odious cockroach.
If it were only a matter of more vigorous swatting and spraying, the infestations of roaches might be manageable. But Weekly Playboy (Oct 11) warns that Japan is now confronting a bigger, tougher breed of "super gokiburi," that isn't fazed by ordinary insecticide sprays.
"These 'super gokiburi' are the result of overuse of insecticides by humans," says Hisashi Sato, president of a cockroach extermination specialty firm named Albatross. "Chemicals may kill most of them, but the survivors pass it on to the next generation, and now we're seeing an increase in hardier varieties.
"When chemical A fails to be effective any longer people will switch to chemical B," Sato explains. "Each time, the survivors develop a stronger immunity. What's more, roaches seem to be getting smarter, as if their unicellular intelligence somehow warns them: 'This bait is poison -- don’t eat!'"
According to the article, the two most common cockroach species found in the Kanto area are the "chabane gokiburi" (commonly known as the German cockroach) and larger "kuro gokiburi" (Periplaneta fuliginosa or smoky brown cockroach). The former tend to inhabit restaurants and the latter human dwellings.
"But more and more, we're also finding restaurants inhabited by large 'wamon gokiburi,' (Periplaneta americana or American cockroach), which can measure from 4 to 5 centimeters in length," says Sato. "We might find hundreds of them nesting in the space between exterior and interior walls, or in ceiling spaces. The noise they make when they swarm right over your head is really revolting.
"And isn't this assignment turning out to be fun?" he asks sarcastically, after noticing the expression of disgust on the reporter's face.
"The coveralls you wear on the job should have as few pockets as possible," he advises. "The last thing you want to do is carry a few home with you and start a new colony."
Tingling with trepidation, the reporter joins Sato on an extermination expedition to an izakaya that had been forced to delay its opening after it found that the former tenant had left the premises swarming with "goki." The first forays at fumigation saw a slight improvement, but the bugs made a quick comeback, strongly suggesting the invaders were indeed super cockroaches.
Sato quickly spotted their hideouts: behind the refrigerator...under the pots...behind the menu board.
"Here's a good photo opportunity for you," he tells the reporter, pulling off the kitchen drain cover and watching several scurry out.
Sato's extermination routine began with a special atomizer spray insecticide of microscopic capsules that cause instant death when ingested into the cockroaches' breathing apparatus.
Then after this fumigation, he inserts a "bait gun" into crevices, and ejects a ribbon of soft toxic gunk with the sticky consistency of soft caramels.
"It hardens after several days," he explains. "The roaches eat it and return to their nest to die. Their corpses or droppings are eaten by other roaches, and it kills them as well."
Returning to the izakaya about three hours after the fumigation, the reporter sees several dozen dead roaches. A few, despite clearly being on their last legs, were mating frantically, indicating an astonishing instinct for survival of the species.
"Many of today's young people can't stand the sight of roaches," Sato reflects. "One young guy who called us was too scared to go back home, and spent five days sleeping in a sauna. And I heard about one gal who couldn't bring herself to squash a 'goki' in her flat, so she went out and coaxed a man off the street just to go up to her pad and whack it."
For crying' out loud, exclaims Weekly Playboy's reporter -- a guy shouldn't be so gutless that he can't at least summon the courage to smack a "goki" with a slipper.© Japan Today