Q: How do I eliminate cockroaches?

Before calling the exterminators, do the following - they really helped our house.
  • Clear out all debris and wood on the ground outside your house. Otherwise, you are just providing free housing for roaches and termites.
  • Pull out baseboards on walls, and see if there are any gaps or larvae. (The larvae look like little brown tapioca chunks, and break apart with a white ooze if you smoosh them.) If there are any gaps, caulk them up, and if there are big gaps, use expanding foam. (I also caulked up the gap between the concrete next to our driveway and our house, and several cracks in the driveway.) (Yes, I'm obsessed.)
  • Check that your door seals well. Install a rubber sweep to close up the gap as much as possible.
  • Squirt boric acid in any child-inaccesable places, such as under the board in the base of your sink cabinet, under the bottom drawers of your kitchen (pull out the drawer, and put the acid in there), under the vanity, etc.
  • Pull up all throw rugs and see what's underneath. Pray that it isn't roaches. Wear sturdy roach-proof shoes.
  • Put boric acid down in front of all exterior doors, if you are confident that your child will not get into it. Also, put some down around doors in your garage, once again, if you are confident.
  • We discovered that the way we fed our dog caused more roaches than normal - we used to give him his food in a cube that he would roll around the house, and of course, there was probably a healthy layer of dog food dust in the carpet. Once we switched to a bowl, the carpets were no longer a roach cafeteria.
  • Vacuum a lot. A whole lot. Way too often. Mop too often as well. It's amazing how much roach food we leave on our floors, no matter HOW neat and tidy we are.
  • Spray off any bird poop on your sidewalk or driveway. The roaches feed on that too. (I'm getting grossed out here myself.)
  • Make sure that your grass and plants don't come all the way up to the sides of your house. Tall grass is a roach highway.
  • Remove clutter from the floors. Clutter on shelves is just fine, but clutter on the floor is more roach housing (and rat housing, as we recently discovered).
We now have almost no roach problem, and are able to survive without pesticides, which is a really good thing. The nice thing is that, while this is all a lot of work, you also get greater energy efficiency and fewer pests of all kinds.

Mark Pollock -- Oct 16, 2003

A: One place roaches tend to congregate is in the shower walls. We had our house treated many years ago, and we saw very few roaches, but when I re-did the shower, I found hundreds in the shower walls.

Gordon Green -- Oct 17, 2003

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