Cockroaches are commonly considered to be among the most repulsive and undesirable insect pests to find within a home. The filthy insects seem to be universally hated as the ultimate nuisance insect pest, and this common sentiment is nothing new. For centuries, cockroaches have been derided for their habit of intruding upon human inhabited areas. As long as people have been living within homes, cockroaches have always made their close presence known to residents. The fact that cockroaches are relatively fast-moving and difficult to kill were two significant reasons as to why the public initially developed a widespread disgust toward the insects centuries ago. Luckily, modern pest control technology makes quick work of cockroach infestations within homes, but centuries ago, homeowners and building tenants were not even aware of the concept of “insect pest control,” but they knew that they did not want cockroach roommates. Therefore, in order to maintain a roach-free home, past societies adopted some bizarre forms of cockroach control.

During the 19th century in England, homemakers would domesticate hedgehogs within kitchens in order to allow the critters to consume the cockroaches that they naturally crave. Housekeepers in Jamaica were accustomed to keeping a few large spiders within their home for the same purpose. In fact, a species of monkey, S. jacchus, and a species of lemur, L. tardigradus, were kept within dwellings in order to keep the roach populations in check, as these primates feed on roaches in the wild. But these animals were mostly used to control cockroach populations on large transit ships and shipping vessels.

During the 19th century in America, homeowners who were afflicted with roach infestations would occasionally resort to a superstitious, yet popular tongue-in-cheek method of roach control. This method had homeowners writing a letter to their cockroach invaders asking them to leave the home and infest the neighbor’s house instead. In order to maximize the efficacy of this method, the letter writers placed a sealed envelope containing the letter in the area of a home where cockroaches had been known to congregate most. It was claimed that this method worked best in cases where the letter writer’s spelling, punctuation and grammar were perfect. Considering the nature of these formerly common insect control practices, people must have been desperate to find a way of living a cockroach-free life.

Have you ever heard of any superstitious form of insect pest control?