Cockroaches are an unsightly and embarrassing problem. Nobody wants to turn on a light at night and discover a host of insects in their home. But roaches are not only unpleasant to live with. They are also associated with a number of health risks and unpleasant consequences when they take up residence in your house.
Cockroaches can contaminate your food, dishes, silverware, and food preparation surfaces, because they often defecate and regurgitate on their food. They can leave a trail of contaminants behind them as they roam around nightly, looking for food. In this way, bacteria and parasites that are carried by the roaches can be transmitted to humans, increasing the risk of urinary tract infections, sepsis, and digestive disorders in people. The presence of cockroaches also increases the risk of illness from food poisoning.
Cockroaches are a common allergen among people. Cockroach saliva, faces, and the body parts they shed when molting are all common sources of allergies. Cockroach allergies can trigger asthma attacks and flu-like symptoms in people, and children are more susceptible than adults.
Roaches like to hide and nest in warm, dark areas. Their ability to squeeze into tiny crevices means that they can easily take up residence inside electronics that generate warmth. Home electronic devices that are always on, like internet routers, clock radios, and televisions, are attractive homes for roaches, who can then affect delicate wiring inside the device.
While we often associate cockroach infestations with homes that are dirty and poorly kept, the truth is that these resourceful, hardy insects can take up residence anywhere. Even though we can find the problem embarrassing, there is nothing to be ashamed of, and cockroaches are not an indication of poor housekeeping.
Unfortunately, not everyone who has cockroaches is able to use a professional exterminator. Professional exterminators are expensive, and sometimes, even if you can afford their services, they cant come treat your home right away. But there are a number of ways to kill cockroaches and protect your heath and home even without the services of a professional.
If you have roaches and need to get rid of them without an exterminator, its common to find yourself looking at cans of commercial pesticides in the aisle of your local grocery or hardware store.
Many commercial cans of bug spray do kill roaches on contact, and they can create a toxic barrier against future roaches. However, many roaches are resistant to the chemicals found in common sprays, and its possible that, while a spray may kill adult roaches, it becomes less effective against their hatching eggs.
Bombs and foggers are often sold as a cheap exterminator for roaches. These devices work by spraying a fine pesticide mist into the air, filling a room and then gradually settling onto surfaces. Despite what the label may say, these devices arent very effective at controlling a roach infestation, because roaches hide in tiny cracks and crevices, and can hold their breath for up to 40 minutes. Bombs and foggers are more effective against flying insects than on roaches.
Some baited traps are simply adhesive traps, like flypaper. While these will certainly trap and kill adult roaches, they do nothing to control an infestation. It is more effective to use poisonous traps, because the roach will ingest the poison and then scurry back to their nest. Cockroaches are cannibals, so if the poisoned roach dies, there is a strong likelihood that other roaches will eat it and will themselves become poisoned.
Depending on the chemical composition of your commercial pesticide, there are health issues to be aware of. Although these products are generally safe for adults, children, and pets, they should still be handled with caution. Store them safely away from children or pets. Dont use the product in an area where children or pets are likely to breathe or ingest it, such as near pet food areas or on carpets where children might be crawling. If you use a fogger or bomb, thoroughly clean all food surfaces, dishes, silverware, etc. afterward. Always follow all the manufacturers instructions for safe use, storage, and disposal of the product.
If you have been looking for a cheap exterminator for roaches, and want to best protect children and pets, you may have read a number of all-natural DIY remedies online. Unfortunately, many of them do not work. Here are some of the old wives tales that are supposed to get rid of roaches, but actually have almost no effect:
The idea behind many of these natural cockroach remedies is that cockroaches dont like the smell and are repelled by them, which simply isnt true. Fabric softener, soap, and other methods intended to block their breathing and drown them are sometimes effective against living adult roaches, but do nothing to control the infestation.
However, there are some natural DIY roach killing methods that really do work to kill roaches. Here are the best ones:
Diatomaceous earth is a fine powder that is microscopically sharp and abrasive. When roaches walk through it, it sticks to their waxy skin, and scratches and abrades their exoskeleton. It not only causes them to lose moisture through their skin, but it absorbs moisture as well, and kills roaches through dehydration.
Baking soda is highly alkaline. When combined with a tasty companion to make a bait to get roaches to eat it, it reacts with their stomach acid to expand inside their bodies and kills them from the inside out.
Borax can be used as a powder, where it functions much like diatomaceous earth, or used to create a bait, where it interferes with digestion and kills roaches. Borax is also highly effective because when roaches eat their dead companion, they ingest the toxic borax and are killed in turn. Borax is one of the most effective roach killing methods because it can be used to kill roaches two ways, and has long-lasting effects both on adults that are out where they can be seen, and on roaches hidden in the nest.
These three methods have multiple advantages over commercial sprays and bombs:
In fact, these methods are so effective that they are often recommended by professional exterminators.
To use borax or diatomaceous earth to kill roaches by dehydration and abrasion:
Both of these cockroach killers come in the form of a fine powder. Its important to use them in a way that encourages the roaches to walk through them, rather than around them. A light, fine dust will be more effective than a thick wall of powder.
Of course, cockroaches wont be attracted to eat baking soda or borax alone; it needs to be combined with something attractive, in order to lure them to the bait and disguise it enough for them to eat it. Cockroaches are also attracted to moisture, so its better to mix it into a paste than to lure them with a powdery mixture alone.
While many sources online recommend sugar to bait a roach trap, its worth rethinking this method. Cockroaches actually prefer starchy foods over sugary ones. In fact, studies are showing that roaches may be gradually losing their taste for sugary foods and therefore avoiding common bait traps. Sugary baits can also be a potential attractor for small children and some pets. For those reasons, the best attractants are starches like flour or cornstarch, which will attract cockroaches without attracting other residents of the household.
To make your bait:
While these methods are highly effective, you may need to make an ongoing effort to control cockroaches. If you live in an apartment building or highly urban area with a large cockroach population, they may continue to occasionally find their way inside your home even after you have eliminated your original population.
Before, during, and after a cockroach infestation, there are a few things you can do to make your home less appealing to cockroaches.
While even the cleanest homes can become infested with roaches, cleaning always helps. Thoroughly cleaning everything, including inside cabinets, drawers, and beneath appliances not only removes stray crumbs and food particles that attract roaches, but it also removes their feces and saliva. These microscopic roach traces can attract roaches by indicating that its a roach-friendly environment. Deep cleaning can also help you identify where roaches are nesting and where to concentrate your extermination efforts.
Roaches can compress their bodies and squeeze into the smallest cracks and crevices, so its almost impossible to completely prevent roaches from entering from the outside. However, its worth taking a close look at cracks and crevices near floors and baseboards, between the boards in hardwood floors, and in grout seams near tub and tiled areas. Consider using sealers or grout to reduce these small openings where roaches like to hide and nest.
For food stored in cupboards and pantries, removing it from store packaging like boxes and plastic bags, and storing it instead in tightly sealed plastic tubs or canisters can help prevent roaches from getting inside your stored food. This reduces a cockroachs food supply and also helps prevent your food from being contaminated.
Roaches can live for nearly a month without food, but only a week or so without water. Examine your home for sources of water and control them. While there isnt much that can be done to mitigate water in drains, inside faucets, and inside toilets, you can try to reduce and control standing water and moisture in your home.
Dont overwater houseplants and leave standing water in plant pots. Dont soak dishes in standing water in the sink. Control condensation and moisture by allowing the inside of a shower stall or dishwasher to thoroughly dry between uses, and control moisture that may accumulate or leak near pipes and drains.
These methods will make your roach killing methods more effective by helping to better target your pesticides and make your bait more attractive. The good news is that these kind of prevention measures may also make your home more energy-efficient, reduce mold and mildew, and make it less attractive to other pests like ants and mice.
Its possible to effectively reduce, control, and prevent cockroaches in your home without an expensive exterminator. Even better, its possible to eliminate cockroaches in a way that is safe and natural for children and pets.
Learn More About Cockroaches
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