Kill and Manage Roaches the Natural, Organic Way
Organic, Natural, Non-Toxic Roach Control
Roaches or cockroaches are among the most hated pests to invade a home, and these resilient little beasts can not only be a nuisance, but many people have a difficult time getting rid of them once they make your home their feeding ground, especially for those who want to eliminate or minimize the use of toxic insect solutions to battle the roach.
To add a little to the challenge and sometimes causing confusion, is there are several types of roaches that may be your problem if you live in the United States, and that means they will prefer to feed off different food sources, as well as operate in different environments in the house they prefer to dwell in.
The good news is there doesn't need to be too much concern there as to dealing with the roach, as what kills or drives out one species should work just as good to drive out or kill another roach species.
Most of the reason for discovering what a certain roach species is is for the purpose of knowing how best to get rid of it; sometimes through using the correct attractant for a specific roach species.
Depending on the methods used to try to rid yourself of the roaches, they may not be effective if you're not placing them where the roaches are and based upon what thy prefer to feast on.
For example, some roach types prefer citrus as their main food source, while others actually like to munch on your clothes. And of course there are those that for the most part, don't care what it is they eat as long as it's food. Unsurprisingly what are called "American" roaches are among those (hehe). They really are called by that name though.
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Most Important Step in Organic Roach Control
When trying to combat any pest, the primary and first step that needs to be taken is to disrupt their environment. With that in mind, be sure that the reason any pest enters your home is in order to feed or drink, with food being the No. 1 reason.
Since pests can go outside and get water, and then come back inside again, sometimes that's not as significant as food, but eliminating water as a source does help to cut back on pests in general, and roaches in particular. But that only helps if you minimize or eliminate their food source, as they can always find water if they need it, and so the home offering the most food will be their main choice to dine at.
So there are two major things to consider in relationship to organic roach control, and they are access to the home and food attractants. Take care of both and you're unlikely to ever have a roach problem in your home.
Let's look at dealing with the food problem that can lure roaches into your home.
Don't Leave Food Laying Around
One of the practices that many people have is to leave open food containers around the kitchen or other part of the home they may eat in. That is an open invitation for roaches and other bugs as well that there is a significant source of food to access for them.
And be sure they communicate with their fellow roaches that this is a prime eating place for them.
Food Containers and Plates
But open containers or food left on a plate sitting are only a couple of the more obvious practices which attract roaches and other pests. If it was only that, most of the time roaches can be controlled by cleaning them off fairly quickly.
One practice which could attract roaches is to leave dishes, containers or glasses in the kitchen sink area with food or other residue on them - such as soda or juice which contains sugar in them.
Look Around Refrigerators, Stoves, Microwaves and Grills
Other areas to watch out for are places where you may remove food from, such as a refrigerator, or places you may heat or cook food on, like the stove or microwave. A grill on a patio or place close to the house could be another draw to roaches and other pests. All of these are sure to have food dropped from time to time while you're trying to get it ready to heat or cook. Keep a close watch in these areas and clean up quickly when you find dropped food.
Just assume there is food that has dropped on the floor during all the work you're doing in the kitchen. That means cleaning under the stove and around and under the refrigerator on a fairly consistent basis. When cleaning the floor you will sometimes inadvertently leave some
under the stove or refrigerator which will stay there for awhile, providing food for roaches. Also clean under the kitchen or dining room table frequently.
Covered Food Dishes and Containers
Be sure to thoroughly cover any goodies you may have recently made to keep roaches from entering and feasting on. Sometimes sloppy wrapping of containers, such as recently made bread or deserts, may leave an opening for roaches to enter and eat.
Family Eating Places
Occasionally check the house if you're the type of family that likes to dine in different areas of the home. Teenagers may want to eat in their rooms, while mom or dad may prefer an entertainment room. Teens especially can be notorious for taking a bite or two out of some food and leave the rest sitting around.
Areas of the home with carpet is the most obvious place where you can miss food particles, so vacuuming these areas regularly go a long way towards controlling the food sources roaches so diligently look for.
Cupboards and Roaches
Cupboards are another area to keep close watch on, specifically for those where you store food. Always check to see if there have been some accidental spills. Food and a dark place are what roaches thrive on.
Also watch for loosely closed dry food containers such as cereal, where a child may not close it as tightly as it should be, leaving an opening for roaches to access the food.
Another area many people don't readily think of is the toys of children. Little ones can eat among their toy area, or immediately after eating go there before washing their hands with food still on them. Over time this food from their hands works its way onto the toys, making them a desirable habitat and source of food.
Furniture and Food
If your family does eat while sitting on chairs, sofas or other furniture that has cushions of any type, you can be sure you will find food crumbs and residue down the cracks or under the cushions.
Simply take a look now and again to see if there is food there, and vacuum accordingly. Just don't forget this not so obvious place, because it's easy to do.
Pet Food and Roaches
Finally, be aware of any place you feed your pets. How many times have we discovered unwanted visitors eating from the bowl of a pet, partaking in the food offering? Check and clean up the pet dishes on a continual basis to protect against this being a major attractant for roaches and other pests.
Also be aware of dry food storage of pet foods, as they can attract more roaches than standing pet food in a bowl.
Of all the steps mentioned in this article, these, and others like them, are probably the most important to manage roaches. Natural roach control builds off of this as the foundation.
Water and Cockroaches
While water is a necessity for roaches, it isn't as needed on a consistent basis as for other pests, yet standing water of any kind should be taken care of within the home, and as with other pest draws, areas like the pipes under the kitchen sink and in the bathroom should be checked to be sure they're not dripping and providing a source of water for the roaches.
Standing water of any kind in a house can keep the pests in indefinitely, as there is then little reason for roaches to leave a home at all if food and water are always available for them.
Other places to search out water for are around the hot water heater, toilet, shower drain or a dishwasher.
Roaches need water to survive, but they don't have to have access to it as consistently as other pest do.
That doesn't mean the problem doesn't need to be taken care of though, and managing water makes your home just that much less desirable than another one nearby.
Minimizing Entry Points into Your Home
Eliminating food and water sources is the top strategy for cockroach management, but right behind that is to look around the house for places where roaches may have an easy entry point.
What's most important in this regard is to see if you can see where the roaches are entering or leaving the home. In darker areas this means having a flashlight you can quickly point at a suspected area to see if you see the roaches scurrying about in a crack. If you find them doing so, this would be the place to start caulking or insulating, depending on where they're located and what the material is they're made up of.
From there find and fill in any open places pests like roaches can enter into. Besides cracks in the foundation, you should look around windows and doors for any openings. Cracks in the walls are other areas to deal with.
If your window screens are torn in any way, be sure to mend them to cut that out as a place of entry for roaches.
Most of this is common sense and simply taking the time to find, cover or fix the areas providing access to your home.
One final not so obvious place to manage is drains in showers, tubs or sinks. To be sure they're not a place where roaches can come into the home, an occasional pouring of some bleach down the drain should prevent them from wanting to take residence there. When not using it you can also simply close a drain if you're able to.
Outdoors Roach Management
Similar to other types of pests, roaches can and will take up residence in environments close to the home if it is suitable to their needs.
The usual methods of keeping the area around your home free of any type of debris little critters will live in is best practices.
Even when having fall fun with pile of leaves can attract roaches if they're allowed to pile up against the exterior of the house. Be sure to have any piles such as that further away so children can still have fun, but where roaches won't be tempted to dwell in.
If they're near the house, they will eventually find their way into it.
Anything, even gutters with residue in them will attract pest and roaches, so a cleaning once in a while will eliminate that as a place for them to live in.
Again, most of this is what people will do anyway, but keep in mind that neglecting to do it on a consistent basis will result in the probability of roaches liking to live around your home.
One other consideration is firewood that is piled up close to a house. If you already have it there don't worry about it, as you'll gradually use it and whittle it down. But once it's gone, place the firewood a little further from the house and then gather it up as you need it. Having a little close to the house and easily accessible from the door shouldn't hurt anything, just don't pile it so high that it becomes permanent.
Put enough wood there so you might have enough for a few days, and then use it until it's completely gone. Then pile some more up when that's finished so there isn't always wood laying on the ground or area that never is disturbed. The trick is to disturb it enough so it's not a place roaches would want to live in.
The bottom line with all of this, whether inside or out, is to keep things tidy and clean. Do that and you already have about 80 percent of all roach problems solved.
Roach Types and Their Preferences and Characteristics
Next we'll look at the most common roach types in North America, and talk a little on their preferences for food and habitat. The five cockroach types we'll look at are American cockroaches, brown-banded cockroach, Oriental cockroach, German cockroach and the smoky brown cockroach. Pictures of each one and their size will be included in order to help identify each roach species. We'll start with the American cockroach.
Among the most prevalent cockroaches in North America are the American cockroach, and you, for the most part, don't need to know too much about it to identify it, as it's about the largest cockroach you'll see in the home, as it reaches over two inches long in length when reaching adulthood. If you see one that long, you know you're looking at the American cockroach.
Since many of have seen these roaches, you'll know they have a color that is dark like mahogany, or a reddish-brown hue. The younger American cockroaches will have more of a grayish brown color, which changes as it grows older.
Another hated characteristic of these roaches are their ability to glide through the air via flying, which many of use have tried hard to avoid when they swoop down near us.
While normally preferring the outdoors, as we all know, these roaches aren't shy about entering any home that has food available to them. In the home they look for any food that has been left laying around or inadvertently fallen on the floor or table.
This means they'll be seen in those area where food is available. Pet food left out overnight is another favorite, as is dry food containers left open or not closed completely.
American cockroaches mostly live around kitchens, bathrooms, basements and laundry rooms once in the home. Because they like areas with moisture and warmth, removing water and using a dehumidifier is one way to eliminate their preferred habitat.
When fully grown, brown-banded cockroaches measure in at a little over a half an inch long. So when looking at the photos of the various cockroaches we're looking at, keep in mind you will have to adjust in your mind accordingly as to the actual size these creatures will be when you encounter them.
They are called brown-banded cockroaches because of the brownish or brownish-yellow bands on the wings of the creatures. Keeping in mind that they're only a little over a half inch long, you may have to kill or capture one to see what it is you're dealing with.
This particular roach species prefers less moist areas, so aren't found as much in kitchens and bathrooms as many other roaches are, but thrive in dryer, warmer areas of a house or building.
So along with furniture and closets, you are apt to find these on the second floor of a home, or in attics. They like dark areas, and so you are very unlikely to ever seen them in the day unless you turn on the light in an otherwise darkened room.
Because of their propensity towards warmth, they can also be found in appliances that include the warmth of motors. In those cases it may appear they're dwelling in rooms that include appliances for food or water reasons, but in fact are there for the warmth and immediate dryness. In those ways they different from many other roaches, as mentioned earlier.
As for what they eat, that is also different from other roaches. Brown-banded roaches really enjoy things with starch in them, including clothing, other fabric, and even glue. Some times the first time you know you have these roaches is when you start to find small holes in your clothes, along with little brownish spots, which are the result of their excrement.
Brown Banded Cockroach Photo
Similar to brown-banded cockroaches, German cockroaches like hot areas like furnaces and heating vents, but they also like moisture, which makes their environment demands much different from brown-banded roaches, which prefer it dry.
German cockroaches can be a little bit longer than brown-banded cockroaches, although they're also just a little bit longer than half an inch when fully mature, measuring about 5/8 inch at that time. Sometimes they'll grow as long as 3/4 of an inch.
Their colors are a more of a lighter brown than some of the other roaches; sometimes also having a medium brown color. Another identifiable outward characteristic is the inclusion of two dark streaks on the thorax of the roach.
sometimes the illusion of flying is attributed to this roach species, but they actually are gliding from higher locations to lower locations using their wings. They can attempt to fly, but it is rarely successful at those attempts.
This particular roach is probably the most common around the world, as it is found everywhere, and is easily transportable because of its size and appetite to eat almost anything, and can be found in almost any type of transport container as a result of that.
Photo of German Cockroach
As you can see from the photo, most readers are sure to be able to say they've seen the oriental cockroach before, because of its darker, shiny exterior. It grows to about an inch long at maturity. Females of the roach species are a little longer.
Oriental cockroaches are another species that thrive in cooler, moist areas, and consequently will be found in basements, cellars, refrigerators, drains, and other similar areas. The food they like the best is garbage and decaying food, so they can also be found many times in garbage cans.
A warm, dry house is one of the better defenses against oriental cockroaches if they live in your dwelling place.
Adding a dehumidifier to invested areas will help cut back on their numbers. Another strategy is to be sure not to leave any food or poorly composted matter close to your house. Also be sure to securely close your garbage containers with a lid.
Normally the oriental cockroach will live at ground or below ground level, depending on the warmth and moisture in the area.
Smoky Brown Cockroach
The smoky brown cockroach is among one of the largest species in North American, growing from 1 inch to 2 inches long when fully mature.
Preferring to eat vegetables or fruits, it is more common in the Southeastern portion of the United States, although they've been found in many of the southern states like California and Texas where large numbers of crops and fruit trees are grown and the product stored. Decaying fruits and vegetables are what they look for as a major food source.
Smoky brown cockroaches are brown in color with a red hue at the lower part of its body. When babies or nymphs appear they will include a white stripe on the back in the early stage of growth.
Because this roach species loses its moisture faster than other cockroach species, they will seek out moist areas to live in.
While they do invest homes that meet their preferred requirements, smoky-brown cockroaches are more apt to be found in gardens, greenhouses and nurseries.
This roach species is able to fly.
Killing and Managing Roaches
This brings us to the practical things we can do to get rid of roaches if they get by our defenses.
The first thing to understand about roaches in a home is just because they're there doesn't mean you have filthy, unhealthy living quarters. As you seen from the few species above, some of them will eat anything, and even if your house is clean and tidy, circumstance beyond your control can result in them ending up in your house.
That doesn't mean there aren't improvements to make and things to look for to make sure you're doing your part to the best of your ability, but it means even the best efforts may not keep roaches completely out of the home; it just means you raised the percentage to a much higher level than if you did nothing to prevent the infestation of roaches.
Seeing the First Roach
When you see the first roach in your home, the assumption must immediately be made that there are more of them. No roach is going to be alone, although it's highly possible they're at a very manageable level when you first see one.
Steps should quickly be taken when you see that roach; don't wait for a period of time before taking action to eradicate them from the home. The longer you wait the more you'll have to kill, and the more you have to kill the longer it'll take to get rid of them using organic methods.
Organic, Natural Ways to Kill Roaches
I have found through my experience that it's best to use at least a couple of different methods to kill roaches, as it usually takes a couple to get rid of them totally.
If you want to find out what type of roaches are in the home, in case you weren't able to identify it when seeing it, a sticky trap could be used to get a physical specimen you could identify. If you're not sure, take it down to an exterminator business to have them identify it for you.
This is important because you may not place your defensive measures in the right location in the house if you only have seen a single roach. Obviously if they suddenly appear in vast numbers, it shouldn't be a problem to know what it is you're dealing with.
A lot of American roaches won't be too difficult to recognize, and you can apply the measures to take accordingly. If you're not sure and you get a physical specimen, again, take it down to a local exterminator to get the correct identification.
You could also take a picture and look at it on the Internet to see if you can identify it. Again, this is mostly for the place you're going to attack the roaches at, not for the purposes of determining what way you're going to kill them or attempt to drive them out.
Cockroach Traps, Roach Motels™
Sometimes our quest for interesting concoctions to battle pests and roaches sometimes causes us to miss the obvious, and that's the case many times when battling cockroach infestations.
In this case buying and placing cockroach traps around the house, which many of us know as Roach Motels™, which is of course a brand (although there are other traps out there).
What these consist of are a little black box which has a stick substance inside of them. The roaches go in and get stuck, eventually killing them. You can buy these in almost any garden center or business with a gardening department, or or course on the Internet.
You can also make your own roach traps if you want. We'll get into that a little later in the article.
Depending on how you interpret boric acid, it can be considered a form of organic roach control, although some people think of it as being toxic like chemicals are. '
Of course like anything, if too much is digested it could be harmful. That is a legitimate concern if you have small children or pets, but the proper placement in areas they can't reach should take care of that concern if you want to use one of the more effective deterrents against roaches.
What's great about boric acid is it can kill roaches in a couple of way. They can be killed through outward contact with the substance, or they can be fooled into eating it, which will not only kill them, but similar to ants, they will take it back to the nest and share it with others, which would spread the number of deaths among the colony exponentially.
Since roaches are notorious for building resistance to commercial chemical solutions, using boric acid guarantees you're going to see a lot of dead roaches over time, as it kills in a different manner, as mentioned above. From the contact part of the equation, it works similar to diatomaceous earth, which we'll talk about soon.
For the most part, all you have to do with boric acid, which mostly comes in powder form, is to sprinkle around areas of the house you know the roaches will walk around in or congregate.
If children or pets are an issue, place the boric acid on plates around the house where they won't be able to reach them.
Some people create concoctions which include boric acid, sugar and flour. You add water to the three and roll up the mixture into little balls. This paste will be eaten by the roaches and they'll end up dead. You can measure this a little better by placing somewhere or on something that you can see if they are disappearing or not, which means the roaches are literally taking the bait.
As for touching the roaches, it starts to enter into the exoskeleton of the creature upon contact, which will kill them in about three days.
So while you won't get rid of the roaches immediately, after a few days you will see them start to disappear. Keep on placing the boric acid out and it won't be too long before your home is rid of cockroaches.
When using boric acid as bait, adding sweeteners to it to attract more roaches is a good strategy. It ensures the measures will take effect quicker because more roaches are ingesting the boric acid at similar times. It would reduce the time it takes to get rid of the roach problem.
It also encourages the nested roaches to eat it quicker, resulting in an overall quicker kill for you.
Diatomaceous earth is one of the most outstanding ways to kill pests and roaches out there, and there is no way for roaches to adapt to what is essentially more like a knife attack than an attempt to kill them through a chemical, which they have shown they can adapt to.
What makes diatomaceous earth so effective is what it is made from, which is the fossilized remains of a tine plant named diatoms. These are ground up into what feels like dry powder to humans, but cuts like razor blades to most pests, including roaches.
To insects and pests it's like a group of razor places making a thousand cuts into their bodies, and in the case of roaches, their exoskeleton. The result is that the "powder" cutting through the outer shell of roaches, resulting in dehydration within a couple of days. It is very safe for people and pets.
The best way to apply this is in a thin line, where the roaches will have to cross it if they want to pass by. That ensures a better rate of exposure to the powder, and of course a many more roaches dying.
Along with boric acid and diatomaceous earth, another thing that works well as far as breaking through the exoskeletons of cockroaches as a result of contact, is silica.
If you don't know what silica it, it's what is contained in those little packets you see in purses and shoes which help protect them from getting too much moisture.
These crystals, which look like dust when opened, can be applied like boric acid or diatomaceous earth. On contact, it won't be long before the roaches are found dead.
Homemade Cockroach Traps
There are a number of ways to make cockroach traps at home which are all based on the same premise: placing a bait in a jar which attracts them to the point of them climbing in it.
Possibly the most effective method is to take a jar which when placed on its side, as a curved area in order to climb out of it. A good example of this is a canning jar as far as shape goes. Any type of jar with that shape will work.
Put a food or beverage bait inside the jar.
At this point you can apply a substance which is slippery, such as petroleum jelly, Vaseline, cooking oil, or any type of oily product, onto the inside of the curved part of the jar as seen when on its side. It'll be the curved part right after the opening of the jar.
Now just set out some jars set up like this in various places in your house and wait till morning to find your catch. What happens is the cockroaches and climb into the jar and eat, but once they're in the jar, they find it impossible to get out.
Some make adaptations to this method so they won't have to personally kill the roaches in some manner. In this case they put water in the jar with some type of attractant, such as soda or a similar sugary drink. The roaches crawl in and simply drown when they reach the water. I would still include the slippery oil or other product right above the water so the roaches can in no way escape.
If you're not troubled by killing the roaches once they're in a bottle, you could simply add water ounce you have enough of them and put the bottle upright so they fall into it. Before long they'll all be dead and you can dump them out and do the same thing again. If you have a number of these in strategic places in the home, it won't be long before you make a big dent in the population.
I've even heard of some people who don't like to do that taking the jar of roaches, putting a lid on the jar, and placing it in the freezer until they're all dead.
The nice thing about these types of traps are it rids you of the roaches immediately, even if they're still alive in the jars.
Homemade Sticky Cockroach Traps
Another easy to make and utilize trap is a sticky trap you make at home. In this case you could put some petroleum jelly on a board or other object and add some food or beverage bait to get the roaches to walk over to it. You got 'em.
You could also buy some flypaper and place some bread crumbs or other little pieces of food on it and watch the roaches get stuck on that easily.
Of course you could buy these types of sticky traps and add the bait to ensure good results.
Again, what's great about these is you're immediately eliminating a portion of the roach population in a permanent manner.
Catnip as Natural Cockroach Repellent?
Catnip has been reputed to be an effective deterrent against many insect pests, including cockroaches. The ingredient in catnip that lends support to this assertion is called nepetalactone, which is non-toxic to pets and human beings.
And as most cat lovers know, their cats love it, although they can have some very unusual responses to it.
You can buy catnip in any store, or could even it grow it in your home garden or as a potted plant if you wish.
It can be applied by cutting pieces off and placing them in areas around the house, or you could make a spray to use against cockroaches when you see them or if you know where they travel or live. All you do is mix it with water to make the tea spray.
I've heard mixed reviews on the effectiveness of catnip as a roach deterrent. If you've tried it, let the rest of us know in the comments how it worked for you.
Hedge Apples for Roach Control
Hedge apples are cited as a good organic solution for a number of insect and pest, including spider and ants, along with roaches.
This odd looking fruit comes from the Osage orange tree, and when placed in the home, over the period of a couple of weeks it's supposed to drive out whatever pests you have in the home, including roaches.
The challenge is they are only available at certain times of the year and certain parts of the country, and also, over time, the deteriorating plant can attract other unwanted pests.
If you manage it properly, and watch the fruits carefully over time, it could do a good job. It's limited. But if you have roaches at the time of the year they're available, it's definitely worth trying it out; especially if they do in fact completely rid the house of roaches.
This is another roach technique I've never tried, so would appreciate comments from those that have attempted roach control using hedge apples.
Other plants used to combat roaches are cucumber slices, garlic, and bay leaves. Cleaners that include a citric base are also reputed to help manage cockroaches. If you get cockroaches and have them available for use, they're worth trying. I wouldn't use them as my primary roach solution, as I wouldn't want them to multiply while I experiment. I would just want to get rid of them as quickly and effectively as possible.
Baking Soda Mixes
Just like with any recipe, baking soda mixtures used to eradicate cockroaches are numerous, and it seems like everyone has their own unique concoction to do the job.
We won't get into the seemingly endless number of ways to do it, but go with one here that is probably the simplest way to manage roaches using baking soda, as well as the quickest.
All you need to do with this one is mix white sugar together with baking soda and offer the bait to roaches.
The reason why there are so many different baking soda recipes to battle roaches is everyone thinks adding the extra ingredients will draw the oraches in better, as it appears it's the banking soda that messes up the inner workings of the roach which ends up killing them.
How it is explained is the roach will die from the high acid content inherent in the baking soda, resulting from the reaction the roach has to the content it consumes in the bait.
If you've created your own roach deterrent using baking soda, share the ingredients with us in the comments below.
Funniest Organic Roach Control
In one of the more humorous methods of roach control I've heard of, one guy tells the story of using a gecko to run around his house free range until he gobbled up all the roaches.
Apparently this isn't as uncommon a method as one would at first suppose, but I'm sure those doing this aren't so much into the organic as just enjoying having the gecko run around the house catching the roaches.
The problem will eventually arise when the roaches are cleaned out and the poor gecko will have to be taken care of by the owner until the next roach makes an appearance.
For those that aren't thrilled about having a lizard running around the house, I doubt this is a serious option.
Natural, Organic Roach Management
Killing or controlling the population of roaches where you live can be done naturally and organically, but it must be understood it'll take at least several days for the job to get done.
That's why incorporating several of these methods together is the best chance at quickly dealing with the roaches to your satisfaction.
I think the optimal organic strategy would be to put some jar and sticky traps out to get immediate results, and then add boric acid and diatomaceous earth in various parts of the infected area to deal with them over a several day period.
That way you can get immediate results to bring the roaches under some control, and then give the boric acid and diatomaceous earth some time to kill the rest of them. You could also add some commercially made roach traps to help out in the short term, as they get them stuck right away, and also cut down on the roach population as you wait for the several days it'll take to kill the rest of them.
However you decide to do it, this is one of those areas where natural, organic roach controls are as effective as any chemical product.
And if all else fails, there are organic products on the market which work great on roaches. But if you use the methods shown here, after several days you should have them under control.