Yikes. You came to this site because you want to know how to get rid of cockroaches. That’s the bad news. Cockroaches are a resilient and prolific pest.
But let’s start with the good news.
First, you’re going to have an amazing story to tell at cocktail parties. Cockroaches? You’ll say, laughing and swirling your Diet Coke in the glass, where do we start? (Because with a cockroach infestation, you’re not going to be able to afford the luxury of anything but radical sobriety.)
You’ll regale them with stories of cockroaches’ capacity to squeeze their body through tiny cracks while still running the human equivalent of seventy miles per hour. You’ll tell them all about how cockroaches can survive decapitation because they don’t breathe as humans do.
You’ll tell them that the urban legend is overstated, but a bit true: Cockroaches might be the one thing that survives a nuclear holocaust, given their radiation resistance.
Then you’ll get more serious. More ominous. You’ll stare at them and quote Daniel Goldman from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He says that cockroaches can easily change shape and size, so what that means is that these bugs are like the Transformers you see in the movies.
Yes, these bugs are like science fiction creations. They can squeeze into any crack. They can adapt, shift, and penetrate at will, just to hide. They’re genetically hardwired for survival. If your family is on a budget and cut out Netflix, you can find entertainment by watching YouTube videos like “OMG! Cockroach Giving Birth While Being Devoured by Fire Ants.”
Now the bad news. If you have cockroaches, you’re going to have to get downright serious about cleaning.
Why do I have roaches?
While pests like mice are drawn to warm air escaping a home, roaches want food and water. Period.
You likely have roaches because you have a stable source of water, and there are other roaches present (cockroaches are attracted to the presence of other roaches, which is a signal of a steady food source).
You also have cracks for roaches to squeeze through. You think you don’t? Cockroaches can squeeze through a crack the size of two pennies stacked up.
Please, don’t feel bad about this. There’s no cause for shame. Cockroaches in many, many countries of the world are something that people learn to live with. They learn to manage cockroaches, to control cockroaches. Never fully eradicate.
But you’re not those people? Okay. So let’s get serious about getting rid of cockroaches…in your home.
Steps for getting rid of roaches
Can we start with the tongue-in-cheek? With the cocktail party banter? Your easiest solution would be to get a cat. Cats will eat them and leave them for you as a present. Maybe even under your pillow.
If you’re not a cat person, you could figure out a way to create an ant infestation. Ants will devour cockroaches whole. Like a Shel Silverstein poem. Starting at one end and working through to the other.
Now let’s be serious:
Step 1: Plug up water leaks and sources of water
Let’s start here because cockroaches, like humans, can go longer without food than without water. So you’re going to need to make sure there aren’t available sources of water. No dripping faucets. No standing water. No water left in puddles around the sink when your sixteen-year-old son does the dishes. No water left in the basin of the shower or on the basement floor.
No one said this creature wouldn’t take patience and persistence.
Step 2: Get serious about keeping food consumption and waste limited to one area
If your son wants to take a bag of tortillas into his bedroom while playing PS4, you’re going to have to say, Honey, remember the cockroaches. We need to keep all food scraps contained to a manageable area because we need to minimize the square footage that we need to clean. Eat in the kitchen or at the dining table.
You’re going to have to do some severe cleaning. I’m talking about vacuuming the kitchen and dining floor every night. You can’t leave crumbs in the cupboard. No old boxes of cereal left laying around, or in the back of the cabinets. Yes, you’re going to have to get some plastic containers from that storage section at Target. No dirty dishes lying out next to the sink.
But you can’t even do what many workplaces do, and keep a sponge with detergent handy. That wet sponge will be just enough water for that roach to drink…and stay alive another cycle. If you do that, keep the sponge in a Ziploc bag.
Step 3: Determine your baiting strategy
You’re going to have to consider your pest removal values so that you can communicate with whomever you hire. If you’re opposed to spraying because you’re worried about contamination, that’s helpful information. If you don’t care about the spray and you just want to get rid of the roaches, that’s also useful information.
Next to sanitation and plugging water leaks, baiting is the most important component to roach control. The idea is the same one as behind mice control. The roach eats the poison and takes it back to the nest. The roach contaminates the others by way of contact, feces, etc.
You can use natural baits. One recipe is for 3 parts boric acid with 1 part powdered sugar. The sugar attracts the cockroaches. The boric acid kills them. They go back to wherever they’re hiding.
Step 4: Eliminate hiding spaces
Cockroaches need to hide. Think about hiding places and eliminate where they might be. Do cracks exist between counters and cabinets? Are there unpatched holes in the pantry where you ripped out old shelves, installed new ones, but never patched the holes? Cockroaches like to hide. In this sense, they’re like bed bugs. Take away their hiding spaces, and they really don’t want to use your place as a hotel.
Step 5: Cultivate patience and the long view
If nothing else, you’ll be able to use “patience” and “overcoming obstacles” as core leadership competencies during your next job interview. This pest will require patience. You can do everything right to eradicate cockroaches, but still wait months to see the results.
Keeping cockroaches away for good
Keeping cockroaches away for good will require that you maintain sanitation, maintain patience, maintain sanity.
Get a massage. Do whatever you need to do to deal with the tension that builds up in your shoulders when you find another cockroach in the trap…after weeks of thinking you were home free.
If you need to, call experts. There is no harm in admitting defeat.
If you do call in the experts, remember to articulate your values: do you prefer natural remedies or are you comfortable with the nuclear option? Do you have pets? Start by communicating your values.
Also Read: Roach Control
So what now?
Cockroaches are not ideal. Remember that we’ve all been dealt a bad hand or received a bad pitch in the game of life.
Maybe this is an opportunity to simplify your kitchen, devote time to cleaning up that part of your life.
Or maybe, the positive outcome at the end will be that never-ending supply of cocktail party stories. If you do your cockroach research, you’ll know “How to eat a cockroach” and will possess the best line you’ve ever deliver:
“After cooking, Mr. Wang gently ladled them onto a plate, their bodies plumped with the oil and their wings slightly spread, before sprinkling a packet of instant noodle powder–pickled cabbage flavour–over the dish.”
You can also fry them. In a wok of hot oil. Which makes them crispy with cottage-cheese-like innards. Think of a fresh wonton.