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Hey Matt:

Please help! Roaches are everywhere! I've tried everything to try to get rid of them. I know you'll have a good solution. I just know it.

Adrian, San Diego

I think you have Matthew Alice confused with the Orkin Man. And I'm not sure what you mean by everything how creative you've actually gotten. Anyway, if hiring a professional exterminator isn't a possibility, I do have a last-ditch suggestion to solve your bugful woes. It means adding more wildlife to your already-overrun house, but I'm told it works like a charm, though it may take a little getting used to.

This idea comes to me from some MA pals who recently were run out of New York City (by the weather, not the bugs). It's the exterminator of choice for Manhattanites. Reptile and amphibian dealers confirm it's true. Go to a pet store and buy yourself a house gecko. It will only set you back a few bucks. The gecko family of lizards, when not making insurance commercials, spend their time eating bugs. Cockroaches are a particular favorite, I'm told. When you get home, release the little guys under the sink or anywhere else they can find their way into the walls. The next sound you hear should be contented chomping.

The bug-besieged in New York seem to prefer the tokay gecko, but that's a more feisty, foot-long member of the clan, the Doberman of geckoland, which barks and bites and won't let go once it's clamped down. Well, Gotham may have an especially pugnacious strain of cockroaches, or perhaps the geckos double as self-defense weapons. House geckos grow only a few inches long and spend virtually all their time hiding under and behind things or hunkered down in your walls waiting for lunch to scurry by.

Cockroaches have survived on Earth for about 350 million years, survived whatever disaster did in the dinosaur, and will surely continue to outthink us. While waiting for some future biological control, your best bet might be the low-tech gecko. Actually, if I were the wagering sort, my dinero would be on the cucarachas. Good luck, and I'd be flattered if you name one after me. A gecko, not a roach.

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