November 20, 2012

The Green Minute: Waging (Eco-Friendly) War On Cockroaches

Courtesy of Pat Byington, The Green Register Editor

Perhaps it wasn’t the most appropriate after dinner discussion, but the other night, I had a fascinating discussion with friends and family members about a menace that was attacking all our homes.

The cockroach.

The discussion had one common theme. How do you “wage war” and get rid of this disgusting, scary pest in an eco-friendly way? No one liked using store brand, toxic products, or calling in the expensive pest control company. In fact, using a pest control company was seen among my friends as a sign of an expensive surrender. The most humorous solution suggested by our discussion was the use of household indoor cats. It made everyone chuckle, but personally, I’ve got to admit, my two indoor cats, are pretty good “cockroach hunters” but it is a sport to them, and it is not a solution.

One dinner guest, who was from North Carolina, did direct us to an organization that could possibly provide a solution to our dilemma. He sent us to an organization called Toxic Free North Carolina. Of course, the first thing I did that evening was visit their website, and I found my eco-friendly cockroach “battlefield” instructions.

Here were their helpful suggestions:

Prevent cockroaches from coming inside in the first place:

Roach-proof your food. Cockroaches can easily get into plastic bags or cardboard boxes. Use roach-proof glass or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids to store your food.

Roach-proof your trash. Make sure that food waste in your garbage doesn’t stick around. Rinse empty food containers before you throw them away or recycle them. Don’t leave food scraps in the garbage overnight. Take out the trash often.

Don’t give roaches water. Fix leaky pipes and faucets, air out or dehumidify moist areas of the house, and empty your pets’ water dishes at night. If your building has a serious roach problem, you can also cover your drains at night so roaches can’t crawl up them.

De-grease. Roaches love grease and grime, so it’s especially important to keep your kitchen clean. Don’t leave dishes in the sink overnight, and clean your countertops, drains, ovens, stovetops, and vents regularly so grease doesn’t build up.

No place to hide. Seal up cracks and crevices that give roaches a way into your house. Use caulk to seal the cracks between walls and floors, around windows and doorframes, and around cupboards and bathroom fixtures. You might also install door sweeps and weather stripping.

Get rid of cockroaches without toxic chemicals:

Vacuum them. You can use a good strong vacuum cleaner to suck roaches out of cracks and out from underneath appliances. Then, just throw out the vacuum bag right away.

Borax. Borax is a low-toxicity chemical powder that kills roaches when they eat it, but won’t vaporize into gas, and is safe to handle. However, inhaling large amounts of the powder can irritate your lungs, so be careful and wear a mask if you are working with large amounts of it. You can sprinkle the dry boric acid powder in the back of cabinets, underneath appliances, or in other cracks and crevices where roaches will easily find it. Or, you can use it to make your own roach bait. As with all potentially hazardous materials, store boric acid away from children and pets.

Make Your Own Roach Bait. Recipe: Mix 1 cup borax powder, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup minced onion, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon water. Make a paste out of the mixture, and roll it into little balls. Put 2 or 3 of the balls into a little plastic sandwich baggie, and leave the baggie open. Place the bag(s) anyplace you have roaches, like inside cabinets or drawers or under the sink. To be on the safe side, be careful not to put the bait anywhere that a pet or child could find it.

Toxic-Free North Carolina has even made a convenient fact sheet you can download. You can access it here.

This fact sheet and today’s Green Minute should be helpful and provide you good fodder for your next after dinner discussion about combating cockroaches in an eco-friendly way. And of course, you can always liven-up the evening talking about the cockroach prowess of your indoor cat.

Image Credit: Photos.com

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