by Tia G.
Growing up, I had the pleasure of never seeing a roach, except on T.V. I grew up with the assumption that only dirty people had roaches. When I moved to Texas, I found out how wrong that assumption was. Even the cleanest of homes can get infested with roaches and it doesn’t take much.
My first apartment in Texas appeared to be clean. Nice neighborhood, clean grounds, the apartment itself looked and “smelled” clean, all the stuff you look for when moving into an apartment. I didn’t know the signs to look for, or even that I needed to look, for a roach infestation.
Within a week I saw my first roach. It was huge and it flew right into my hair. I found out later it was a wood roach or a palmetto bug. Did I mention it flies? After an hour-long shower, and scrubbing my hair a dozen times, I was fine. After all, the bug was outside and I was inside, so I was safe-right? Wrong!
My first-midnight foray into the kitchen proved just how wrong I was. There were roaches everywhere on the floors and counters. Of course, I didn’t have any kind of bug spray, I didn’t even have a flyswatter. I went around with a flip-flop smacking all them I could catch while doing the “ewwwe dance.”
The next morning I stormed the manager’s office complaining. I was practically laughed out of the office with the advice to go and buy some roach spray. I keep a clean house, and this is probably some kind of a fluke, some roach spray should get rid of them, so I believed. That started my two year battle with them.
You can name any brand of roach spray, gel, trap, bait, and fogger, and I will guarantee that I have tried it. I moved into a different apartment that sprayed on a weekly basis. I cleaned, and cleaned, and cleaned some more. All food was kept in an airtight container or in the fridge. Nothing seemed to help. When I sprayed, it was like they spread.
When when I used the baits, they seemed to multiply. When I fogged, they would disappear for a day or two, and then would be back in full force. It got so bad I was seeing them not only at night but during the day.
My breaking point happened over two events. I went to make a pot of coffee and there were roaches crawling all over and in my coffee pot (to this day I still drink instant coffee) and my daughter got up from the table during breakfast, came back and there were roaches all over her food. I freaked out.
I had tried everything I could think of to get rid of them and nothing was working. How do people live like this? How do people get away from them? I tried moving and they just packed themselves into my stuff and moved with me. I keep my house clean as can be, I even tried pouring straight bleach on the counters and they seemed to enjoy playing in it.
After having my little breakdown, I had a thought pop into my head. “Know thy enemy.” No one said that it only applies to people. So what do I know about roaches? They are creepy and nasty. They carry disease, and would probably survive a nuclear holocaust. Time to do some research.
I learned so much about them, things I never wanted to know. It confirmed that I NEEDED to get rid of them, but that the approach I was taking would NOT work. Here are three things that told me I needed to find a different way:
1) Roaches can eat and survive off of pretty much anything. From that microscopic crumb that got left behind, to the glue on book bindings, stamps, and envelopes. They will also eat body parts that they shed and other dead roaches. So in essence, they can feed each other, and don’t need the food you have in your home.
2) Just like we build immunities to antibiotics and other medications, roaches can become immune to the chemicals we spray on/feed them.
3) They can hold their breath for an obnoxious length of time, 40 minutes. That means when you start spraying, unless you are hitting them directly they hold their breath and scurry off to a safe location, usually in another room. It works the same for the foggers, they hold their breath until they can find a pocket of fresh air the chemicals cant reach. So in spraying all the roach sprays, I effectively spread them throughout the apartment.
With those being some of my biggest problems, how do I work around it? An internet search on getting rid of roaches brought up so many sites selling pesticides, and all the exterminators, that I would never find what I needed that way.
I did a search on “alternative ways to kill roaches” and it came up with mixed results.
Where I struck pay dirt was when I looked up “natural ways to kill roaches.” On site after site, three things kept popping up. Diatomaceous Earth (DE), boric acid, and baking soda.
Here Are My Results For Each:
Diatomaceous Earth: I found that it does kill roaches if you can actually get it on them. The problems were that you do not want to breathe this stuff in so it really limited where all you could place it, and the roaches avoided it. Where it really helped was that I was able to put it in the dog and rabbit food. It was safe for my pets to eat and yet kept the roaches out.
*****NOTE: if you buy DE make sure you buy the FOOD GRADE as the stuff they sell for pool filters is very toxic to people and pets.
Boric acid: I first tried Borax as I had some in the house. The problem with the borax is it caked really easy and would not work. I then bought the both the powder and tablet form of boric acid. I believe this to be the reason I am now roach free.
The powder form I found at the dollar store for $3 a bottle and the tablets I found at a grocery store for around the same price. I put the tablets under all appliances, in the back and corners of my cabinets, and anywhere I didn’t want loose powder.
I put the powder in a very thin line around all baseboards, on my bookcases, and anywhere else I needed a large area covered. I would sprinkle it all over my floors and counters at night before going to bed, cleaning it up in the morning. It was not a quick success by any means. It took a couple of weeks for me to notice a difference and a couple of months before I completely stopped seeing them. The trick with boric acid is to put it in very thin lines otherwise the roaches will go around or jump over it.
Note: be very careful using boric acid on and around areas that you prepare food. It is toxic.
Baking soda: here is where I started and had my least amount of success. The roaches were not interested in the baking soda by itself. When mixed with sugar (which is the most recommended) it became a hard sticky mess, at least in my high humidity area. It did work if you changed it out every day so the mixture would be fresh, but you couldn’t spread it out like with the boric acid.
It took about six months of trying all the different techniques and finding the one that worked in my home. In the end, although I believe it to mainly be because of the boric acid, I used a mixture of the three things.
I used the DE in the pet food, the boric acid pretty much everywhere else, and I would fill bottle caps with the baking soda/sugar mix and put them up as bait stations throughout the house in problem areas, making sure they walked through the boric acid to get to them.
I have now been roach free for 4 years. Even now, and after moving into a house, I keep lines of boric acid down behind the baseboards, and the tablets in my cabinets and under appliances. I still buy DE to mix with the animal food. The boric acid, as long as it is kept dry, will last for years. Some easy measures to take so that if/when SHTF and sanitation becomes an issue, it is one less thing for us to worry about.