AMHERST, Mass. -- A researcher at the University of Massachusetts has found a novel solution to the problem of cockroaches - tiny wasps no larger than the head of a pin.
Dr. Roy G. Vandriesche hunted for a natural solution to the problem of roach infestation at Fernald Hall, headquarters of the university's entomology department, while protecting thousands of other insects being used as parts of experiments in the building.
If the traditional spraying method were used, Vandriesche said Monday, the valuable insects would die just as quickly as the cockroaches.
Vandreische said the wasps seek out only the eggs of the brown-banded cockroaches and lay their owns eggs among the roach eggs. When the young wasps hatch, they eat the surrounding cockroach eggs, neatly eliminating another generation of roaches.
'In a small room, a few hundred (wasps) a week would probably be sufficient,' he said.
A roomful of wasps does not present the problem for people one would expect. The wasps are small enough not to be noticed, and neither sting nor bite people, he said.
He said the method has been used successfully by Dr. Art Slater at the University of California at Berkeley, where the university got a colony of the tropical wasps.
Vandriesche doesn't foresee the method being used on a widespread household basis, because it is only a temporary solution, and involves perpetual release of the wasps, as each wave of roaches returns.