August 25, 1980 12:00 PM

by Dr. Austin M. Frishman and Arthur P. Schwartz

For most of the 350 million years cockroaches have been around, they did not have to worry about the infestation of the earth by humans intent on stomping or spraying them. They could, of course, have the place pretty much to themselves again in a few decades, but meanwhile Frishman, whose Ph.D. from Purdue is in “structural pest control,” and Schwartz, a New York literary agent, provide some interesting data. In addition to history about cockroaches (Capt. William Bligh tried to rid the Bounty of the insects by swooshing the whole ship with boiling water) and species trivia (the largest, a tropical variety called Blaberus giganteus, is about three inches long), there is a guide to fumigation. The Q&A section reports that yes, the bugs have been known to bite humans. The book also says they can carry disease. All this information is rendered in often coy prose. And there is an excess of full-page drawings of roaches wearing berets, carrying umbrellas or otherwise looking cute. There’s as much as anyone needs to know about cockroaches in the book, though, and it might help mankind to win a few skirmishes in an, alas, losing war. (Morrow, $9.95 hardback; Morrow Quill, $4.95 paperback)

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