Eric is a science and technology teacher who is a bookworm and logophile. He often writes about scientific thought, theories and research.
Cockroaches are pretty nasty pests. They can cause allergies, destroy fabric and paper, and leave foul odors behind. They can be carriers of various diseases such as Salmonella typhi (which causes typhoid) and poliomyelitis (which causes polio). These insects transmit germs either by contact with our skin or by contaminating our meals.
They are very difficult to see and are usually well-hidden. Most of them are nocturnal, meaning they are active at night. They are very good at moving around without alerting us to their presence.
Why Is It So Hard to Exterminate Cockroaches?
These bugs are very hard to kill. In fact, they are considered to be nearly indestructible. Here's why they can survive nearly anything.
- Cockroaches have an extremely strong and flexible exoskeleton, which makes them almost impossible to squish withstand the hardest stomp or the toughest newspaper.
- They can withstand temperature as cold as 32 degrees Fahrenheit (zero degrees Celsius).
- These little creatures can hold their breath for a long time. They often hold their breath to regulate water loss, so trying to drown them will be challenging.
- They can live without food for one month.
- They can live for weeks without their head.
- A female cockroach can lay eggs eight times yearly and produce 200 offspring in her lifetime. They are also parthenogenetic, meaning they can reproduce in the absence of males.
- They can survive nuclear explosions.
- According to some experts, if a nuclear apocalypse happened, they could possibly be the only surviving species on earth.
Should You Use Pesticides to Kill Cockroaches?
Scientists have tried to help fight these insects. They have developed many kinds of poisons to get rid of them. These pesticides kill pests, but using them can cause other problems. The following are some negative effects of these harmful chemicals.
- They kill useful insects too.
- They can be hazardous to children and pets.
- Exposure to them can lead to respiratory illness, birth defects, and leukemia.
- They can produce tumors, as well as endocrine and reproduction disorders.
- Consistent use of pesticides can lead to toxins entering rivers and streams through water run-off.
- They are very harmful to the environment.
- They are expensive and require lots of protective equipment and clothing when using them.
How to Kill Cockroaches and Stop an Infestation Without Pesticides
Not everyone is prepared to protect their family from toxic chemicals. Here are 13 natural methods you can use to get rid of cockroaches. Use these preventative measures and home remedies to prevent cockroach infestations in your home.
1. Remove Things That Attract These Insects
Dirty homes offer perfect conditions for cockroaches. They are attracted to food that has been left on the counter, dirty dishes in the sink, pet food, and crumbs on the floor. They are also attracted to moisture, such as leaky pipes under a sink, roof leaks, wet mops, wet bathroom walls, standing water, wet toothbrushes, and even droplets of water on the leaves of a plant outside your house. Roach egg sacs and body parts (like broken wings and molts) contain pheromones that can also attract other roaches.
Do the following to prevent infestations:
- Clean your floor, kitchen, and kitchen appliances. Roaches in the kitchen can live off grease and food spills beneath and behind your appliances. Clean under and behind the stove, refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, etc. Wipe down kitchen countertops, wash all dishes, and clean the sink.
- Dry or cover wet sponges, dishrags, and the mops that you use on the floor.
- Keep food in sealed containers. Store food in metal, glass, or hard plastic sealable containers. Do not use a box or plastic bags; roaches are small enough to get into them. You can also put food in the refrigerator.
- Empty pet food containers when they are not being used. You can also cover them tightly.
- Keep garbage cans covered.
- Fix leaky plumbing and sweating pipes.
- Wet toothbrushes should be dried and placed in containers.
- Empty the drip trays from your refrigerator.
2. Clear All Clutter From Your Home
This includes newspapers, cardboard boxes, books, and any kinds of papers in your home. These little creatures adore paper. If these items are lying around your home, you’re inviting them in. They love to breed in these items, so it is best to remove them.
3. Seal Up Any Potential Entry Point
These pests gain entry to homes by crawling in under doors and cracks in your home’s foundation. You may not even notice the easy access areas as they can be hard to see, but a professional should be able to identify entry points for you. Problem areas include:
- Around windows and doors
- Along the foundation or roof
- Attic and crawl space vents
- Around holes used for electric, gas, and plumbing lines
If you do notice cracks and holes, make sure to seal them. You can use caulk to seal small ones. Steel wool and foam are best for filling larger gaps, especially around pipes. For bigger openings around chimneys or attic vents, you can use a fine wire mesh to create a barrier.
4. Bay Leaves (Laurel)
You can place chopped bay leaves in places where you suspect they roaches are living. They cannot stand the smell of these leaves.
5. Garlic (Powder) and Pepper
Sprinkling garlic and/or pepper around your home can help keep cockroaches away. It is important to replace the powder every month. You can also plant garlic in your backyard as an extra repellent.
Scientists have found that catnip is 100 times more effective than DEET at repelling these insects. The plant contains nepetalactone, which roaches are very sensitive to.
7. Essential Oils
Oils like lavender, peppermint, citronella, eucalyptus, or tea tree oils can keep cockroaches away. Here are some methods you can use to distribute these oils.
- Mop your floors with water that has a few drops of these oils.
- Apply the oil to a piece of cotton and wipe down all the places where the roaches gather.
- Mix a solution of 15 oil drops to 1 cup of water. Put the solution in a spray bottle and spray any area where cockroaches may inhabit.
8. Mouthwash and Dishwashing Liquid
Mix equal parts mouthwash and water and add a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Give it a good shake in a spray bottle and either spray around the house or directly at the cockroaches. This will send them on their way, and it could potentially kill them if they are directly hit.
9. Soap (or Shampoo) and Water Solution
Mix 1 cup water with 1 tsp of soap. Pour the solution in a spray bottle, then spray it on the roaches. The soap solution will suffocate them as the suds block their pores and prevent them from breathing.
10. Boiling Water
Boil water in a pan and pour it on their nest. Cockroaches can’t tolerate high temperature, and hot water can kill them instantly. Boiling water can even kill roach eggs.
11. Baking Soda and Sugar Mixture
I recommend this method. This is the best way to kill these pests. Mix an equal amount of sugar and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in a container (please do not wet) and sprinkle it throughout the house. Cockroaches will be attracted to the smell of sugar and will eat the mixture. The baking soda will kill them.
12. Jar, Bottle, or Plastic Bottle Trap
Any jar will do, be it pickle jar, mayo jar, or peanut butter jar. Spread some cooking oil inside the jar; this will make the roaches that climb into the jar unable to get out due to the slippery nature of the cooking oil. Put some sweet stuff in the jar to attract them. You can also pour some beer as an alternative bait to drown them. Make a few of these traps and place the jars or bottles in areas where the roaches are located, like the kitchen cabinets, stove area, etc.
13. Duct Tape Trap
Unwind a fairly long strip of duct tape and carefully lay it down with the sticky side facing upwards. Now you need to place some bait somewhere in the center of the duct tape. All you need to do is wait for the roaches to walk onto the duct tape and get stuck. Dispose of them as you wish.
You should always remove dead cockroaches because they contain pheromones that can attract other cockroaches.
If you have a serious infestation, you should call a professional to help. A professional pest control company can help eliminate the roach problem in your home through effective bug-killing treatments. If you have pets and children, make sure to ask for an option that is safe for little hands and paws.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Eric Caunca