If you have or have had a problem with cockroaches in your home, it’s likely that your first step (after squashing the few visible ones with a slipper or rolled up newspaper of course) was to search the Internet for the best ways to remove cockroaches from your house. You would then have been presented with information, a LOT of information, actually ranging from conventional things you have definitely heard of, such as the use of insecticidal baits and ‘roach motels’ to unconventional ‘natural’ methods such as cucumbers and lemons that may have left you scratching your head in puzzlement.
With such a wide variety of methods to choose from, which actually get the job done? Sure, no one actually LIKES the idea of spraying their home full of insecticidal chemicals, which explains the popularity of all these natural methods, but the question is: do they actually work? In this article we break down some of the most popular roach control methods, and explain whether you should actually consider them or whether they are nothing but a waste of your time.
Citrus and Cucumbers
If you’ve never heard of this one, the idea is this: roaches (as well as other pests such as ants and fleas) are apparently so repelled by citrus and cucumbers that these items form an effective ‘natural barrier’ to prevent their entry into your home. Suggestions for using these methods include mixing citrus essential oils or squeezing some lemons into your mop bucket, ensuring that your floor is now a natural insect repellent, to placing cucumber and lemon slices at common roach entry points.
Conclusion: Let’s just end it right here. Don’t even bother with this one; you’re literally just throwing food away. Use cucumbers and lemons for what they were really made for: in your cooking.
Despite its ‘chemical’ sounding name, diatomaceous earth is actually an all-natural compound, being the fossilized remains of a prehistoric single-celled creature known as diatoms. These fossilized cells are silicates and they kill roaches and other insects usually within 48 hours of contact by cutting their waxy exoskeletons and draining their oils and lipids. Basically they’re little blades of death to insects. To use them, sprinkle the earth in a fine layer (and we mean fine layer!) in areas where the roaches travel.
Conclusion: Probably the only ‘natural’ method that we endorse. Nevertheless, note that diatomaceous earth can only kill roaches it comes into contact with, unlike poisons, meaning that it may take a significant amount of time to see an appreciable reduction in the roach population. We do however recommend it for outdoor use, especially if you have pets running around.
Ooooh, acid, scary! Fear not, boric acid is actually quite harmless to humans (it’s even used in eye medication for God’s sake!) but lethal to insects, disrupting their metabolic system resulting in death within 2 to 5 days. You should use it in a similar manner to diatomaceous earth, however it is best used indoors and should be kept away from plants (unless you like brown and wilted ones), food preparation surfaces (duh!) and areas where small children and animals could potentially access it (also duh!).
Conclusion: Boric acid is the least toxic among all the pesticide formulations and thus is a great option for those who are worried about using the stronger formulations. We would also like to emphasize that in the case of roaches, poisons are the MOST effective way of reducing their population as roaches have a tendency to eat both other dead roaches, as well as the feces of other roaches, both of which can be poison transmission vectors. This means that for every one poisoned roach, it could potentially lead to 3 or 4 dead roaches. An awesome multiplier effect!
Insecticides / Pesticides
Here are some of the active ingredients you should keep a look out for in the labels: abermectin, hydramethylnon, fipronil, pyrethrin. These are the most common pesticides available, easily found and bought commercially and often packaged together with various roach baits and traps. When using these pesticides please be aware that they also come with the highest level of risk (while the absolute level of risk is very low, relatively speaking this is the riskiest option), so READ THE LABELS CAREFULLY. For instance some pesticides (such as pyrethrin) can be quite hazardous to cats.
Conclusion: If you have a severe roach issue, follow this to get rid of roaches. Always make sure to read package directions carefully. We also recommend the newer pesticide formulations such as fipronil and recommend avoiding pyrethroids, which are the oldest and most common form as studies have shown that some roaches have already developed significant resistance. If you find a certain pesticide is not effective, you should also switch it up for a different active ingredient as insects can develop localized resistance in a surprisingly short amount of time.