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Nature of Isla Vista: Cockroaches

Nature of Isla Vista: Cockroaches
Illustration by Diane Kim

Melanie Martinez

Science and Tech Editor

Many tenants experience unwelcome visitors coming to stay in their apartments. Cockroach infestations are common through Isla Vista (I.V.)  and are a pest that most UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) students are familiar with. Sometimes it feels as if the cockroaches themselves are the owners of the apartments and not the students. The reason for their invasion is an assortment of reasons that are common within I.V.

Illustration by Diane Kim

Cockroaches have been roaming Earth for a very long time. Along with 4,600 other species, cockroaches are among the most primitive-winged insects. They are as old as the dinosaurs—and perhaps even older than them. The fact that they survived multiple mass extinctions and continue to thrive today is an interesting concept to think about as you spray them with bug spray. Their size can vary, but usually, cockroaches measure around two inches long. Their brown, oval-shaped shell protects them from predators or frazzled students trying to kill them with a shoe. 

They’re also great at hiding, as they tend to blend in with the dark shadows and can stay hidden unless they’re startled. Some areas that can attract cockroaches are mini fridges directly on the ground that are running. Unlike the interior, the back of a fridge becomes warm when on, and if it’s pushed against a wall, it creates a perfect place for cockroaches to gather.

These fast, brown insects are attracted to warm, humid, dark areas. Especially here in Santa Barbara where the weather is usually warm, there are many places to harbor these infestations. Now that the summer is coming in, they will be coming out more, although it should be noted that here in Santa Barbara, winter doesn’t stop them from gathering. Most apartments in I.V. don’t have any air conditioning units anyways, so the apartments themselves can’t really stay cool. 

They aren’t just attracted to warmth and darkness, though. If you don’t live in the cleanest of apartments, then they might just be paying you a visit soon. The kitchen is the main culprit since it’s the place where food is handled the most. Tons of students live with three or more roommates, which means lots of people are using the kitchen. And if they are not picking up their crumbs or they are leaving food out for long periods of time then the cockroaches will come out to feast. 

Preventing cockroaches from entering your home or apartment can be achieved simply by careful cleaning, an easy task for most but a difficult feat for some. After cooking, make sure to properly clean your dishes and the area you worked in. Scoot any crumbs into the trash can and wipe any leftover residue. 

While you can’t change the weather, keeping windows open and fans on can help keep an apartment cool, especially with the breeze we get from the ocean. And as for items that create warm areas, such as a mini fridge, they can be put on elevated furniture so they’re farther away from the ground. 

Cockroaches are a part of the fauna of our densely packed Isla Vista. While not the most pleasing species to look at, they are a common sight anywhere there are people living.  They have secured their housing amongst the apartments and housing complexes of I.V. Unfortunately, we can’t completely rid ourselves of these insects, but we can certainly try our best to prevent them. 

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