Nothing gives you a jump scare like flipping on a light in your house and catching a cockroach scuttling off to find a hiding place. Yuck. And the worst part is that where there is one, there's bound to be more.
These creepy critters not only look scary but actually carry harmful bacteria that can give you food poisoning, diarrhea or even cause allergies. Clearly, they are not good house guests.
And for insects, they have a fairly long lifespan. The American cockroach, one of the most common types, can live up to two years! The other most common varieties include the German cockroach, the Oriental cockroach and the Brown-banded roach, which can live between 6 to 12 months.
And though they may not actually be able to survive a nuclear attack, they can survive 3 months without food and 2 weeks without water. They also breed extremely rapidly. In other words, if you have a serious problem, you're going to need a full-scale, multi-pronged attack to get rid of them.
Like any creature trying to survive on this planet, cockroaches usually show up searching for food, water and shelter. Cutting off their basic needs is the best way to prevent an infestation, so proper cleaning and clutter clearing are important.
We'll go into more detail about prevention and how to get rid of cockroaches a little later, but for now, let's cover ways to debug your house if you find yourself in the middle of a cockroach crisis.
First Search, Then Destroy
Cockroaches are nocturnal creatures that don't like being out in the open during daylight hours. So if you want to pinpoint your problem, you may need to do a little bug reconnaissance in the dark corners of your house first.
Like all living things, cockroaches are attracted to moisture. That's why they often like to hide out under the bathroom and kitchen sinks. Places where you might find crumbs are also likely hideouts, so be sure to check behind your refrigerator, under your stove, near your kitchen garbage or in food sources.
Other likely hangouts include:
- Near stored paper bags or boxes
- Any places where cables, pipes or cords come out of the wall
- Crevices around shelves
- Dark corners and drawers
You can also try placing roach glue strips around the house to pinpoint the source (or sources) of your problem. Obviously, the strips that catch the most bugs will need extra attention. Once you've identified their hangouts, it's time to break out your arsenal.
Roaches are continually communicating with other roaches, which is why a store-bought roach bait can be one of the most effective and affordable ways to kill off these insects. It works by disguising poison as food and often comes in a spreadable gel bait.
When a roach takes the bait, it can contaminate dozens of other roaches by contact, feces or poisoning them when they eat its dead carcass. Diabolical and effective.
Be sure to place the bait in the areas with the most bug traffic. If you find yourself with a continuing problem, you may want to change the type of bait from time to time so that the roaches won't avoid eating it or start to resist it.
Roach traps can also be bought at the store and attract roaches with a scent or bait. Once the roach goes inside, he's trapped by a sticky substance and finds himself at the point of no return. But unlike roach bait, this method will only kill off bugs that enter the trap and won't help destroy the rest of the nest.
Be sure to mix the insecticide according to the instructions, then spray the poison along your baseboards, countertops, under kitchen appliances, in the kitchen cabinets, near any cracks and crevices plus around door and window frames.
Be sure NOT to use the spray any places where you're using roach bait. If you do, it will contaminate the bait, and the roaches will no longer eat it.
Natural Roach Treatments
If you don't like the idea of using commercial insecticide in your home or calling pest control, you can also try killing roaches with some home remedies. Below is a list of repellent options for homeowners.
Diatomaceous earth is a sand that is naturally occurring, made up of fossilized algae and isn't toxic to humans. It works by lacerating the exoskeleton (or outer shells) of roaches and dehydrating them.
You can place diatomaceous earth in thin layers at the back of lower cabinets, behind the stove and refrigerator and other places where roaches are hiding. When they crawl through it, they'll die of dehydration.
Boric acid is another naturally occurring compound which you can buy in a granular or powder form. It has low toxicity for pets and is also odorless. Like diatomaceous earth, it kills roaches by damaging their exoskeletons when they crawl through it.
You can spread it in fine layers under kitchen appliances, in cabinets and around cracks and crevices.
You can also mix boric acid with equal parts of sugar to create a roach bait. When they eat it, boric acid will kill them by attacking their stomach and nervous system.
Another approach for using boric acid is to mix it in equal parts with flour and sugar. Make small, round balls with the paste and place them where roaches are hiding. Once they eat the poisonous treat, they'll die.
Baking soda can be used in a myriad of ways to clean and deodorize in your house. But did you know that it can also kill roaches?
Try this natural remedy by mixing the baking soda with equal parts of sugar in a bowl and place it in your problem spot. Next, fill another dish with water.
The roaches will be attracted to the sugar and won't notice they're also eating baking soda. When they drink water afterward, it will cause a reaction in their stomachs that makes their stomachs explode. Now that's what you call a serious case of food poisoning.
Soap and Water
If you need to spray one of these little buggers directly but don't like the smell of commercial sprays, you can use a bottle filled with water and dishwashing soap. Because cockroaches breathe through their skin, the mixture suffocates them.
This is best used with a single stray roach and won't eradicate an infestation. But it can be a good quick fix that will help you avoid other strong chemical sprays.
There's a bit of controversy over the effectiveness of essential oils when it comes to repelling cockroaches, but if your problem isn't that serious and you're dead set against chemicals, you may want to give it a try.
Peppermint, cypress, neem, lemongrass and eucalyptus are all said to repel cockroaches. You can dilute them in water and spray problem areas or use a cotton ball to wipe them directly on surfaces.
Boil 8 tsp of catnip in 1 liter of water for 10 minutes
Once the mixture cools, put it in a spray bottle
Apply the mixture to problem areas.
How to Prevent Cockroach Infestations
The best way you can prevent a roach infestation is to stop it before it happens. That's why keeping your house clean is vitally important. We'll go over some cleaning tips shortly, but first, let's talk about trying to keep them out of your home in the first place.
Roaches can make their way into your house through the tiniest of cracks. To give them less access, it's important to cut off entry points.
Use weather stripping around doors and window frames, and be sure to repair any torn screens. You should also check for cracks and small crevices along your foundation and roof, in attics plus crawl spaces and around holes for pipes, cables and electric.
Small cracks and crevices can be filled with caulking. Large holes, such as areas around pipes, can be filled with steel wool or foam. In the case of chimneys and attic vents, you can use fine wire mesh to keep roaches out.
For any cracks that can't be easily fixed, spray them with roach killers. You can also use the spray in the small space between entry doors and the floor.
Nowhere To Run, Nowhere to Hide
Another thing to keep cockroaches from getting comfy in your house is to give them fewer hiding places. So be sure to pick up clutter and never leave newspapers or cardboard boxes lying around. Roaches love to breed in them!
Don't Feed the Animals
Roaches can live off of grease stains on your stovetop (gross) and the tiniest of crumbs. Be sure to wipe up any food residue immediately. If you have a problem with roaches, you also won't want to leave pet food or treats lying around.
You'll also want to protect your own food, of course. You can store dry goods like cereals and grains in airtight containers with tight lids. It's also better to keep foods like bread in the refrigerator. If there's a snack that you do want to leave on the counter, be sure it's in a tightly sealed storage bag or container.
Dry Them Out
Roaches are attracted to damp or wet places because they need water. To discourage them from taking up residence in your house, deal with plumbing issues promptly and make sure to inspect faucets, sinks and appliances like refrigerators for leaks.
It's also helpful to dry out your sinks before going to bed and to cover drains in sinks, bathtubs and showers with a plastic stopper.
The dryer your home is, the better!
The Nitty Gritty of Deep Cleaning Your Home
If you have a roach problem or want to prevent one, you need to be hypervigilant about cleaning. Be sure to sweep and mop your floors and vacuum your carpet regularly.
It would help if you also cleaned up any spills immediately and never leave dirty dishes in the sink.
To make sure you create an unfriendly environment for these insects, you can also:
- Clean the floor under large appliances like your refrigerator and stove often.
- Wipe grease or other spills off of your stovetop after every use.
- Thoroughly clean your microwave to get rid of any food residue.
- Keep the inside of your toaster oven clean.
- Clean out the crumb tray of your toaster after each use.
- Thoroughly clean both the inside and outside of your garbage cans and keep them tightly sealed.
Call a Professional
Even if your house is spic and span, if a colony of roaches manages to breed in a hard-to-find place, you could find yourself invaded and overwhelmed. In that case, you may want to consider using a professional service to inspect your entire property to locate the source of the problem and fumigate your home.
Ending Your Home Invasion
Roaches can be hard to kill and are notorious for breeding rapidly. And while baits, traps and even some natural remedies can be effective, it's important to seal off points of entry to your home and cut off their food and water supply if you want to keep these unwelcome houseguests away.
Be sure to read instructions and precautions of any chemicals you use to kill roaches, and always take extra precautions if you have pets or small children.
If none of these DIY approaches are effective, you may seriously want to consider hiring a professional exterminator as roaches are not only pesky but can also spread dangerous bacteria.
And remember, keeping your home clean is half the battle when it comes to wiping out these insidious insects!
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