Can I control roaches with a gecko?
March 8, 2005 6:00 PM   Subscribe

Gecko-based roach control was mentioned in another AskMe thread. There must be something wong with this idea, but I don't know what.

In an earlier thread on roach control Jack Karaoke mentioned a friend who controlled his roaches by getting a gecko and letting it roam free in his kitchen. I love critters (who aren't roaches), so this idea really appeals to me. Has anyone tried this? Would a leopard gecko be the right kind? Am I setting myself up for having a dead, stinky lizard behind my fridge?
posted by TungstenChef to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
A potential downside is that geckos poo a lot. I have (wild) geckos all over my house. I don't have much of a roach problem, which may or may not be attributable to the geckos. Gecko poo is a bigger problem for me then roaches.
posted by phatboy at 6:11 PM on March 8, 2005

A co-worker told me yesterday that his friend in Tampa had a monitor lizard under his house to eat palmetto bugs and other insects. I guess people do use lizards for pest control.
posted by Frank Grimes at 6:18 PM on March 8, 2005

A leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius) is not the right kind: it's a eublepharid gecko with eyelids and toes that don't stick to walls -- the same kind as banded geckos in the southwest. You want a true gecko: with toepads, without eyelids.

A tokay gecko (Gekko gecko) might work, but they really like to bite. Hard. Unless your roaches are frigging enormous, a Mediterranean house gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus) is a likelier bet. In warmer areas of the U.S., they're all over the place anyways (introduced species). I'm not sure if they're in Tempe. If you're getting exotics and letting them run free-range, make sure they don't get outside and into the wild.

I suspect that your ambient house temperatures will have to be above the mid-twenties Celsius (high seventies Fahrenheit) for this to work, otherwise it will be too cold for the lizards.

Reptile poo is much more innocuous than other sorts -- at least, once it dries. Akin to bird shit, but less frequent. However, none of my reptiles are free-range, so this is not something I have to deal with.
posted by mcwetboy at 6:43 PM on March 8, 2005

Unsure how your geckos compare size-wise to the Australian (native and imported) kind, but know this: kitties LOVE to hunt them.

All over the house. Walls. Curtains. Screens. Everywhere. Apparently, they're incredibly tasty.
posted by coriolisdave at 6:56 PM on March 8, 2005

Apparently, they're incredibly tasty.

Taste like chicken, I'm sure.
posted by kindall at 7:12 PM on March 8, 2005

I'm sorry, I can't quite remember the species (it may have been a monitor), but when I was 7 my mother had a lizard named RC - "Roach Control". He was excellent at his job (hunting German cockroaches, not the large American species), and didn't appear to leave much mess (maybe it was all hidden under the fridge, where he liked to stay). Unfortunately, I really wanted a cat...

So moral of the story, lizards are good at hunting roaches, but do not mix well with cats.
posted by jb at 9:18 PM on March 8, 2005

I've got wild geckos all over my house in South Africa. There is nothing to prevent them coming in or going out as they wish. I have never seen anything I could identify as gecko poo inside, just some bird-like droppings outside. My only concern with them is accidently harming one. Oh, and by day, I have skinks (another small lizard) on duty.

These guys are amazing in their ability to crawl the walls and ceiling. I've yet to see one actually catch a bug. However, if startled, they jump! And jumping, one time, one landed in my hair. I was startled too. I don't think the lizard was hurt as I saw it run under the fridge after I brushed it out with my fingers.

I've discovered that the geckos (who hunt at night) do gather where there is light to attract their dinner. I'm going to get a little night light to put out someplace convenient and see if I watch them actually catch something (and try to get it on camera). Its amusing when they come crawl the wall around the projection TV image.

Oh, I also have whip scorpions on patrol for bugs. Terrifying-looking critters, they have no sting. Really like a missing link between spiders and scorpions.
posted by Goofyy at 10:07 PM on March 8, 2005

Thanks for the advice, I think I'm going to go with the Mediterranean house gecko as these are the smaller (1/2-3/4 inch) German cockroaches. Thank God I don't have the 3 inchers that you see in these parts sometimes. After Googling around for a bit, word on the net is that roaches are like candy to this species. It looks like the Mediterraneans have indeed invaded this part of Arizona, so I'll have to be careful not to let the bugger out (though by all indications they're firmly established already, I could probably just catch one). I have 3 cockatiels, so I'm already used to cleaning up random poos.

If anyone else is interested in doing this, it looks like I'll need to supplement his diet with crickets dusted with vitamin powder. I'll probably put them out in a bucket at night so that the gecko can get at them.
posted by TungstenChef at 11:25 PM on March 8, 2005

kitties LOVE to hunt them.

Not all kitties. Our two won't touch them. And they were both strays, so make of that what you will.

Also, I used to live in Tampa and there were lizards all over the place. Particularly at my grandparent's place in St. Petersburg. They also had tons of giant flying cockroaches. So I don't know if you are barking up the right tree, if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:16 AM on March 9, 2005

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