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What lurks in your bedroom while you sleep?

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

We can’t all live in hermetically sealed rooms and have our obsessive compulsive whims satisfied like Howard Hughes, so the rest of us have to share the spaces we live in with some unsavoury little (and not so little) characters. Here are three critters that you may inadvertently live with, but whom will certainly not be paying rent…

Let’s start with the most commonly recognised insect. Everyone knows someone with a cockroach story:

a cockroach stuck in the hair or crawling into someone’s mouth while they're sleeping

and with over 400 species in Australia, it’s no surprise. Like backpackers in Bondi, the two most common pest cockroaches that thrive in the tropical, humid environment of the Eastern Suburbs in summer are the German and the American species. True to their namesake’s form, the German cockroach (with a length of around 1.5cm) is highly efficient at reproduction. A female can produce up to 1400 offspring in her 6 to 9 month lifespan and, combined with the spawn of her offspring, a family can reach up to 300,000 in a matter of months. The American cockroach is larger at about 4.3cms, and has the power of flight. Both species live in hard-to-reach places, are nocturnal, difficult to shift and reportedly capable of virgin birth…

Creepy crawly number two can help you with your insect infestations. However, there’s nothing like cutting your nose off to spite your face. One way to stop the enc-roach-ment of your living space is to encourage the presence of the Huntsman spider. Despite their name, they are not known to hunt men, but will devour any cockroaches they come across. They will happily live in your homes, and although they have a venomous bite, they are not considered hazardous to human health. It is said that during your lifetime you’ll eat a few spiders in your sleep. If one morning you wake up and don’t feel hungry enough for breakfast, maybe you’ve broken fast with one of these babies that can stretch to 15cm across. Bon appetit.

The third and final potential lodger is a behemoth and although it’s a vegetarian, it’s a real monster. It is called the Titan stick insect.

If the Huntsman is a breakfast snack then this is the footlong sub of the Eastern Suburb's insect world.

Growing to more than 30cm, it may be easier to get a set of keys cut for your flat than to go to the trouble of making it fly in through your bedroom window (yes, it can fly). These giant insects will feed and live on Eucalyptus, Babyberry, Bramble, Photinia, and Cypress Pine but will occasionally stray into your homes. They’re exceedingly hard to spot in their natural environment due to their cunning disguise of looking like (surprise) a stick.

So don your chemical suits before bed, and consider sleeping in a tent pitched in your front room. Because these and many other beasts scuttle about in the deeper recesses of your apartments during the day only to surface under the cover of darkness, where they roam, mercilessly scavenging for food and, should you unwittingly get in their way, they will have little hesitation in scuttling over your sleeping body. 

Words: Spencer Varndell
Illustration: Thomas Jackson  




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