City Health Advisory: Fancy Cockroaches

By: Meg Favreau

Several neighborhoods have seen a recent increase in FANCY ROACHES. These pests have many distinct features:

  • Little top hats
  • Tiny spats
  • Fine jewelry on the mesothorax, or in the case of the nouveau roache, all thoraxes
  • Names such as “von Roach” and “Roachafeller”
  • An inability to understand the concept of a “public pool”

If you are not sure if your roaches are fancy roaches, perform this test — when you turn your lights on, do the roaches quickly scuttle into dark corners? Or do they saunter with a sense of purpose back under your fridge, where they have hung tiny works of art and sit on uncomfortable-looking white furniture?

Typically, an infestation of fancy roaches begins when one of their favorite food sources is left out. These include:

  • Charcuterie
  • Any food that can be described as “peasant”
  • Bold, ready-to-drink red wines
  • Savory sorbets, lemon-sage mousse and other mid-meal palate cleansers
  • Other organic matter, including fine imported tobacco, copies of Architectural Digest and topiaries.


It can be very difficult to remove fancy roaches due to their sense of entitlement. Begin by eliminating their common gathering spaces:

  • Granite counter tops
  • Decanters
  • Chaise lounges
  • Bathrooms with two-person showers
  • Wide-brimmed derby hats

The next step is to administer a fancy-roach pesticide. We’ve found that fancy roaches are most repulsed by the sprays available for under $10 at the Walgreen’s perfume counter, including Love’s Baby Soft, Fantasy by Britney Spears and a cK Obsession knock-off called “kC Strong Thoughts.”

While you should never leave out anything labeled “organic,” “imported,” “artisan crafted” or “sushi grade” around fancy roaches, there are some natural products that deter them, such as corn. When ground up and infused with herbs and spices — as in a Cool Ranch Dorito, Flamin’ Hot Cheeto or Sour Cream and Onion Bugle — corn creates a “for-the-masses” snack product that fancy roaches find unpalatable. However, do check a recent issue of Bug Appetit to ensure that your corn product is not enjoying a tongue-in-cheek renaissance. If it is, not only will your fancy roaches eat the snack food, but they will do so with an insufferable sense of amusement gained from “slumming it.”


Some have reported success with sending tiny limos to remove the roaches, but we do not recommend this — not only do you have to rent a tiny limo for every roach, but you also need to tip off the invertebrate paparazzi and deal with at least two hours of small cars driving in and out of your living space. Plus, some roaches will shun this spectacle, preferring not to advertise their wealth. (Although these more reclusive roaches can sometimes be coaxed out with an invitation to a charity event such as the Scuttle for the Cure, which raises money to research being squashed by shoes.)


If you have tried everything else and can still hear classical music and erudite hissing coming from your baseboards, the best thing you can do is move another roach species into your home. You can try one-car-family roaches, staycation roaches, or declining American manufacturing roaches, but immigrating roaches from Africa, Mexico or a Slavic country are especially effective. The fancy roaches will vacate immediately, noting that it had nothing to do with the new tenants; they just thought it was time to look for beachfront property.



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