Cockroaches are a huge thing in the South--and I think everywhere in the United States they plague kitchens and homes. I thought I'd write up the facts I've collected over the years about these pests.
1. Why they get in.
Yes, mainly to look for food. Even if you keep your kitchen immaculate though, they will still enter to look for sources of water, keep prowling for food, and to get away from extreme heat and drought conditions as the humidity-controlled environment of a home is much more pleasant.
They're flat-bodied creatures, and different species are so tiny they can fit through very small crevices. Even larger species, as adults, can slip through cracks and small holes that you wouldn't think they'd be able to fit into looking at them.
Dense vegetation, woodpiles, and sewer outlets are all sources of them, so if you have those near your house you are probably more prone to them than others.
2. What they are attracted to.
Food, of course. Water as well. To be specific, in addition to an ideal environment like a home next to one of the above described areas, and the very obvious choices of crumbs-on-the-countertop and sweets, they are very attracted to the following:
- Wheat products (like flour)
- Cardboard glue
I didn't know the cardboard thing until recently.. Keeping things in cardboard boxes (like foodstuffs bought prepackaged from the store) will attract them. To a lesser extent, the energy from things like the back of the refrigerator will also attract them.
3. How to help get rid of them.
If you are infested, the best you can hope to do is do damage control. The general consensus is, if you're not environmentally conscious and infested: Major extermination fog, followed by monthly treatments for well into a year to destroy the colony and keep it from restarting itself. Preventative measures should be put into affect during and after these drastic steps. Infestations really ignore preventative measures, so ensure these are done before spotting them in your home on a regular basis.
- Ensure no water fixtures leak, or that water stagnates for any reason, especially coming from or regarding appliances and electrical equipment. A fridge that leaks water in the back a little bit can be an absolute haven for insects.
- Dry puddles of water created for any reason.
- Use caulk to seal up the borders of windows, doors, floors, cabinetry, and other access points. Doors should seal properly as well. Identify any trouble points you may have. This is probably the most laboring process, but limited access points means a more secure perimeter, and it is probably the single best deterrent someone can do to prevent cockroaches.
- Store your foodstuffs in plastic or glass containers with tight fitting lids. If you keep boxed foodstuffs, double seal them in a plastic tupperware of sorts.
- Clean your kitchen regularly. Although people agree that a clean kitchen will NOT be a measure at all in deterring wandering roaches (they invade the most spotless kitchens too), giving roaches free meals by not cleaning all foodstuffs from surfaces and sweeping the floors regularly only invites them further.
- Sprinkle diatomaceous earth (Ensure you use food grade D.E. for these recipes as it is the safe kind and nontoxic. Be aware this stuff is not good to breathe in because of the nature of it's effectiveness) outside around areas with woodpiles for firewood, or piles of junk in general. This will deter many bugs and insects, not just roaches. Keep in mind this will hurt many insects with exoskeletons, so don't use it in areas like a garden where many beneficial bugs could also live.
- Its been said that catnip deters the insects, so some plants or the essential oil being added to homemade cleaning products could help.
Steps to help kill them and deter them:
- Make a paste of borax, water, and flour and use it as a sort of grout in your trouble spots.
- Diatomaceous earth, a bit of cocoa powder, and flour can be mixed together and sprinkled along trouble areas, access points, and along the perimeter of the house. Safe for pets and humans (unless your pet happens to have an exoskeleton), the D.E. makes cuts in the exoskeletons and destroys their defenses that way. Borax can be replaced for D.E. but it kills in a slightly different way.
- A Las Vegas trap could gather roaches outside, or in an area you can readily check and attack. A large jar like an old pickle jar with wet coffee grounds at the bottom, leaned to a wall or something at such an angle that it will be difficult for the roaches to climb out once they are in. Im not saying all roaches will not find their way out, but they tend to congregate in things like this, so if you're trying to gather them into an area to spray them down this is a good source. Sprinkling D.E. around this trap could help as well.
- For the environmentally unconscious, bait traps are generally thought to not work because the directions state too little. Several more than the boxes suggest, and in more frequently locations, is necessary for baits to have success. Roach baits/motels will work if the amount is doubled or tripled what the directions on the boxes say. Once the infestation is more under control, the numbers can be lowered and preventative measures can be put into place.
- Although this seems a bit excessive work-wise, for very heavily infested areas, drill several small holes into sections of the walls. Sprinkle boric acid into the walls, and then fill the holes and paint over them once more.
If infested, get professional help unless you abhor unfriendly environmental techniques. DYI professional help involves fogging. Treat for a year, and then use preventative measures to help the treatments.
If not, take several steps to ensure a clean, dry, no-access kitchen with properly stored materials does not invite the critters inside. Also, ensure inviting areas outside are minimized and treated.
Its not a perfect plan of action, but for those looking for some simple information, there it is.