A Japanese Pest Control Team Prepares for the Mutant Cockroach of the Future

Earth Chemicals are seriously contemplating a future where roaches have metamorphosized into giants.

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May 25 2016, 1:00pm

A sumo attempts to cross the Gokiburi Hoy-Hoy—a giant cockroach trap. Image: Screenshot from Jouji Lab's YouTube video

Cockroaches are considered vermin in Japan, and the country is well-equipped to tackle this spurious foe. Sprays, boobie traps, disinfectants—you name it, we've got it. But our defences are lacking when it comes to speculative roaches of the mutant kind.

For the moment—in terms of fighting normal roaches—nothing beats perhaps what is one of Japan's quirkiest inventions. Enter the "Gokiburi Hoy-Hoy," a lethal adhesive roach trapper disguised as a colorful and unobnoxious little gingerbread-like house. It's designed to lure the roaches by emitting delectable food smells that only they can sniff.

But a recent YouTube video shows some members of the anti-roach death squad preparing for a more speculative kind of cockroach: They're envisioning a future when the bug will have terraformed into a giant mutant ninja roach capable of surviving Martian conditions. And to combat such a scourge, they know they'll need stronger defences.

Earth Chemical, a Japan-based pest control company, has taken its mini Gokiburi Hoy-Hoy and blown it up to 925 times its original size. The company then challenged three volunteers—a lanky scientist, a beefier sprinter, and finally a portly sumo wrestler—to try and make their way across the gigantic Gokiburi Hoy-Hoy.

The video shows each volunteer attempt to cross the adhesive trap and fail miserably, struggling to lift themselves off of the sticky pad like flailing human roaches. At the end of the "test," the company concludes that the mini experiment is a success, and insinuates that humankind will have some form of defence against the speculative mutant roach of the future.

All this sounds crazy. But it seems that Earth Chemical established the more arty and reflective sci-fi wing of their project dubbed Jouji Lab in 2016. It doesn't provide any reasoning for the bizarre side project, but hey, it's probably hard to think of more inventive ways to defeat roaches on a regular basis. Maybe members of the anti-roach squad need somewhere to let off steam.

Cool Japan is a column about the quirky and serious happenings in the Japanese scientific, technological and cultural realms. It covers the unknown, the mainstream, and the otherwise interesting developments in Japan.