Ack! The roach: one of the household pests that gets the least love from homeowners. Spiders at least eat other pests, and mice are even a little cute, but roaches don’t even have that going for them. Roaches are freeloaders in your home in the truest sense of the word, offering only problems and no value.
Roaches are symbolic of filth for a reason; they can spread disease, and the roach “dirt” (i.e., excrement) they leave behind can trigger allergies or even asthma attacks in sensitive people. Living wherever they can find a few drops of moisture and a crumb or two, roaches are hard to get rid of once you get them – which is why you don’t want to get them in the first place.
If you have a roach problem, don’t despair. Before you call the Orkin man, you might be able to shoo your roaches away using natural means without having to rely upon pesticides dangerous to your family and pets. Here’s a closer look at preventing and eliminating roaches the natural way.
Know Your Roach
What kind of roach have you spotted? Which roach species you have will define how you treat the problem.
The most commonly known species of roach is the American cockroach. Long and big with a triangular head, these guys are also called palmetto bugs or waterbugs. Because of their size and their wings (these are the roaches that might fly into your face in an attempt to get away), the American cockroach is probably the most hated variety of cockroach species.
However, there’s some very good news about this big guy: American cockroaches don’t really want to live in your house. They’ll come inside when it’s cold out and they’re seeking protection, but generally they’ll stick to your crawl spaces, basements, and anywhere else that’s shadowy and moist. If they do find their way inside, you should be relieved to know that they are fairly easy to get rid of by using the home remedies below.
The same holds true for the oriental cockroach, which also prefers to live outdoors. About the same size as an American cockroach, an oriental cockroach is distinguished by its rounded head and redder color.
The roach that you should really be concerned about may at first look to be innocuous, even cute, as far as cockroaches go. The small German cockroaches are the roaches most likely to invade and infest a building. Once you’ve been infested, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of them without resorting to drastic measures.
Even if you did decide to spray for German cockroaches with a household pesticide, you probably wouldn’t be able to wipe them out. The immature German cockroaches stay hidden away in hard-to-reach places, in the tiniest of crevices. While the adults might be killed by a surface spray, the young’uns still thrive beneath the surface, waiting until you turn out all the lights before they venture out.
What Roaches Need
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and this holds true not only for our health but for home remedies to get rid of roaches. If you’re waging a war against roaches, you can start by attacking their food supply, their water supply, and their fortifications.
Reducing a roach’s food supply is possible; eliminating its food supply is nearly impossible. Roaches, especially the German kind, can eat virtually anything. They’ll love to have your crumbs on the kitchen counter, in the sink, or on the floor, but if you stop providing them with that, they’ll move on to almost anything.
They’ll crawl on your kitchen sponge to see if there are any crumbs you might have left after you washed the dishes. They’ll eat your dish soap. It’s not their favorite because they’re not very literary, but they’ll munch on the corners of your books. Even if you manage to keep your home spotless and you burn all your books, they can still go without food for a month at a time.
However, there is one battlefield where you can really put the hurt on them: water. Although roaches can go without food for weeks, they cannot go more than a couple of days without water. Take away their water supply and they’ll have to move on.
If you’re having a roach problem, the first thing you should do is check all your faucets and see if one of them is leaking. Just fixing your leaks, though, doesn’t go far enough. You can eliminate other sources of water with these steps:
- Turn a bowl upside down over the drain in your shower, preventing roaches from crawling in and taking a drink.
- Put the stopper in your sinks for the same reasons.
- Turn on a fan in the bathroom to dry up all the moisture after a shower.
- Wipe out your sinks with a towel once you’re finished.
- Dump leftover drinks and other liquids down the sink, rather than chucking a partially-filled cup into the trash.
- Empty the trash frequently.
- Wash and dry dishes right away.
As for fortifications, roaches will live anywhere they can hide. To reduce their hiding spaces, try these steps:
- Use caulk to seal up cracks and gaps, especially around in kitchens and bathrooms.
- Do you keep a stash of grocery bags? Seal them in an airtight bag to prevent nesting.
- Now’s the time to do some spring cleaning: eliminate messes and clutter and organize things like food storage containers. Store extras inside airtight plastic storage bins.
- Get a garbage can and recycling bin with a tight lid.
- German cockroaches are attracted to the warmth and good vibrations that come from household electronics. Keep them unplugged whenever you can.
- Clean underneath your fridge.
If you decide you want to kill them without resorting to pesticides, all you need is borax. The common laundry additive can be used along your baseboards and anywhere you find roaches. The borax sticks to their legs, and when they clean their legs, they ingest it and die.
If you don’t want to kill, try Gentrol. Gentrol is a professional-grade spray that uses a natural insect hormone to prevent roaches from reproducing. It doesn’t kill them, but freezes them in a pre-pubescent phase forever. While this isn’t exactly a home remedy, it’s much safer than most pesticides.
Once you get rid of your roaches, you’ll still need to prevent them from coming back by following the steps mentioned above. Although pest control companies will try to tell you that a full-on roach infestation can only be solved with heavy-duty chemicals, it’s not true. It takes longer to get rid of roaches the natural way, but if you follow the steps above you can definitely get rid of your roaches.
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