Periplaneta americana: la cucaracha!

Periplaneta americana underpainting
Periplaneta americana underpainting. Acrylic and graphite on watercolor paper.

This was a quick project that I’ve put aside for now, as predictably I have moved on to something else I find a little more interesting than a painting about this ubiquitous insect. Cockroaches live all over the world and come in several species, the worst of which I hear are migrating to my part of the world at a terrifying pace. The initial inspiration came from finding some small specimens in my sink and my subsequent battle with the seemingly limitless reinforcements that back up their fallen compatriots. Luckily, there are some handy dandy and non-toxic ways to deal with minor infestations of them.

Before I began (and then ditched) the underpainting for the main piece, I did a couple of detailed studies using graphite and charcoal. The project might actually end here as I find the drawings fascinating in a scientific/anatomical way as studies. I just don’t think I can find a way to make a composition about cockroaches. If I can, that is an endeavor for a later time!

American Cockroach
Periplaneta americana study I

The insects in these sketches are obviously grossly over-sized. The ones I have encountered at home are less than an inch in length and tend to stay where it is cool and damp. Cockroach truths: they are in fact terrified of light; they crave carbs and old beer at all times (this is a handy way to trap them, actually); I have found that they really don’t pose a threat other than being slightly nauseating or startling at times. However, in large infestations, cockroaches of any sort can spread disease and be responsible for respiratory problems in humans.

Periplaneta americana study II
Periplaneta americana study II

It seems like I won’t see any for a long time, but then for a week or so I see one or two about every other day. I fight them off by mixing food-grade diatomaceous earth into a blend of flour and sugar. I put this on the floor and they wade into the carb bonanza, picking up food but inadvertently coating themselves (and later, their own nests and colonies) in diatomaceous earth. The earth crystals are made of crushed limestone and fossilized shells. This rigid particle punches holes in insect exoskeletons, which results in the bug’s dehydration. Eureka!

Other projects to come soon … I’m back to painting and getting lots done …

3 thoughts on “Periplaneta americana: la cucaracha!

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