Disclaimer: if the discussion of pests or the heartless assassination of pests makes you uncomfortable, ill, or simply hysterical, I want you to go here and watch this video until we’re done talking about it. Okay? Okay.
Last Wednesday, I discovered I had some unexpected squatters (I don’t care how small you are, if you don’t pay rent, we have problems). Namely: cockroaches. Water cockroaches, I believe because they’re very common around here and are drawn to well . . . water.
Now, if I haven’t mentioned it, my apartment is a bit on the humid side. I don’t run the air conditioning very high, I have a lot of interior house space (read: not on the outside wall) and I have one working window. Also, it’s the South and therefore humid. In addition to this general roach-pleasing condition, I live in an old (1920s) house, which, as you might guess, isn’t particularly well sealed. And I have it on good authority that the previous tenant was kind of a slob.
So, with the new human activity, however neat and clean I generally am, these shiny little monsters thought it would be a good idea to move back in, if they ever left at all.
Note: My feline companion, to her credit, has been doing bug-control for some time. I’m fairly certain she’s murdered and dismembered a few insects — I didn’t know they were roaches — and was well set on killing more when I discovered one (which was a little larger than my thumb and perched on the wall) in the bathroom when I went to brush my teeth in the evening.
There was no shrieking, screaming or other particularly girly noises. I did hightail it out of there, though. But I regroup quickly.
A quick survey on the invaluable Google offered a number of nontoxic approaches to discouraging one’s roach population:
1) Spread smells they find unpleasant. These include bay leaves, garlic, and, interestingly enough, cucumber peels. They also supposedly have an aversion to the Hedgeapple, which I plan to experiment with as soon as it arrives.
2) Keep your house as clean as possible. This involves storing all food properly and having a tightly fitted garbage can lid.
3) Seal your house, blocking cracks and holes, particularly those around pipes. (This last one isn’t really an option for a renter, but hey).
So I immediately smashed some garlic and peeled one of my cucumbers, lining the areas around my cabinets and appliances, as well as both sinks.
I knew, however, that as I had an existing roach problem, I probably needed to go on the offensive. The cat is a great help, of course, but she lacks the ability to climb walls and she does sleep about 18 hours a day.
If you don’t know me, I should state here that I’m pretty much one of the wimpiest people on the planet when it comes to killing bugs. Plus, I’m not very good at it. If I can’t murder something by throwing a book at it from about ten feet away, it’s a lost cause. So I had to research other methods of murder:
1) Containers of soapy water in key areas (over and around drains, under appliances). Supposedly if you fling soapy water on them or they fall in, it makes them ill. Untested.
2) Small dishes of baking soda and sugar, accompanied by small dishes of water (I used my Honest Tea bottle caps). The idea is that the roach will eat the sugar, unaware of the baking soda, drink some water and then promptly go expire as the baking soda destroys its insides.
I did note that some of this mixture had been consumed. Have found no dead roaches, but I suppose that means they could have scuttled away home first.
3) Diatomaceous earth. Untested.
After I booby-trapped my house on Wednesday night, I went grocery shopping and found EcoSmart, a non-toxic (to vertebrates) bug-killer. The active ingredients are cinnamon oil and rosemary oil. I sprayed under the sinks and at the base of appliances, also on top of the fridge, because roaches like to climb, and around the drain in the bathtub. The smell is powerful, but not wholly unpleasant, and it went away after about a week.
Since then, I have seen no roaches, especially the Big Daddy mofo who scared me to death last week. But why?
1) The baking soda and sugar killed them.
2) The EcoSmart killed them.
3) The cat killed them.
4) The cucumber peels and garlic deterred them so they’ve gone off to more appealing locals (like my neighbor’s apartment.)
5) They’re still here; I just haven’t seen them.
6) Some combination of the above.
Only time will tell. I’ll report back with more information when I have it. Until then, I hope you remain blissfully bug free.