Who’d You Rather: The Roach vs Fly Edition

So today at lunch I was chillin chatting it up with a friend of mine when I felt a little tickle on my hand, that tickle was a raggedy ass fly. So I looked at the fly and said, ‘fly whooo the haile do you think you are sittin up on my hand like you belong there?’ Ok, it didn’t really go down like that, it was more like ‘dammit!’ and then a brief stomach churn at the thought of where said fly had probably already been moments before. You see the spot where I eat lunch is also a haven for dog-walkers and with dog-walkers come dogs and with dogs walking come the need to take a dump and on a dump near you alights a fly. I’m guessing by now you can see where I’m going with this…that fly probably already nourished by a fecal romp was now on my hand which has nerve endings which is why I felt it in the first place. My first question was, ‘did that fly land on my exposed turkey sandwich?’  On the heels of that question was my immediate suspension and/or suppression of reality as I realized I wasn’t giving up my lunch for the mere possibility nay probability that a fly had been having a house party on a log pile.

TMI over, I’m now going to address the question posed in my title; if stranded on a desert island with one of two insects, the roach or the fly, which would you choose to live out your stranded desert life with? I actually posed this to my home girl who said she’d rather have the fly since roaches are known to be dirty. I didn’t agree, I figure roaches haven’t built their reputations on a pile of shit, in fact they’ve been known to stay hidden in dark places and spare us the indignity of showing up in well-lit places unless we come home early and catch one taking a short-cut across the floor or wall. While writing this I just realized I’ve profiled roaches all these years; like pit bulls roaches get a bad rap, but back to that island, I’m down with the roach. I’m thinking that unlike a fly I’ve never known a roach to be fond of feces AND some of the bigger roaches look like a snack, like if you were mad hungry and had no food that a largish roach might be great deep fried dusted with  salt…which seems like how the haile could I fry up a roach on a desert island but again this is not based in reality which is why greasy fried roach shells dusted with sea salt (my island is surrounded by the salty ocean) in a brown paper bag is totally plausible. To be fair, how exciting could fried fly wings be, I mean really, could they even hold up under the weight of panko?

So now that I’ve committed to my decision to choose a roach as my desert companion over a fly, I feel compelled to look up some information about why roaches are so bad to get a better idea of what I agreed to. It turns out in developed areas roaches are considered dirty because they feed off trash and like mice drop their ‘fecal matter’ as they roam which can leave us humans open to salmonella and other fun bacterial infections. It appears that roaches are quite hardy and multiply as if their very existence is key to the world’s continuance, buuuut according to the website How Stuff Works, roaches have been quite the survivors, “They’re primitive insects – they existed millions of years before dinosaurs did and have evolved very little since then. In spite of their unchanging nature, they’ve survived when other species have not. For example, dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago, but cockroaches have thrived for 320 million years.” (1) Wow, that line alone gives me pause, perhaps a roach isn’t the right choice because they’ll take over the damn island like those roaches in Joe’s Apartment (there’s some 90s MTV trivia for ya).

So now on to flies, those dirty buggers that land on shit then prance across our food, I had to check out the fly too. According to the same website (I thought it only fair) I checked on the fly to see if I’d have a change of heart after realizing I’d have about a million ‘Wilson’s’ with me on the desert island and unlike Tom Hanks’ character in Cast Away I would not cry when one of those roaches floated away, I thought it prudent to be sure I made the right decision and I have. Turns out flies are mad nasty just as I suspected and although, unlike their roach counterparts don’t seem to have their multiplication tables down or ability to outlive dinosaurs intact, they do have the talent of causing all kinds of disease. Check out this little passage from How Stuff Works, “Many kinds of flies, notably the common housefly, often carry disease germs on the hairs of their bodies and legs, and leave them on human food. Typhoid fever, cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, and other diseases are spread in this way.” (2) The site also spent a little time outlining larvae aka maggots which should make anyone’s stomach queasy which reminds me of that scene in Lost Boys (one of my favorite movies circa high school) when the ‘billy bad ass’ character played by Kiefer Sutherland decides to trick the main ‘good guy’ dude into eating maggots under the guise of a Chinese food container of rice. It was gross which is why I stand by my decision to invite roaches to my desert island, I could be the hunted and the huntee but with flies I’ll just have bubble guts the whole time, I’m good.


1. Roach: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/life/zoology/insects-arachnids/cockroach.htm


2. Fly: http://animals.howstuffworks.com/insects/fly-info.htm

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