Guess I'll live in the upstairs closet
July 15, 2011 8:13 AM   Subscribe

How to DIY or get management to finally get rid of these friggin roaches that come up through the drains?

I do not like bugs. I live in Tennessee - a place where I've endured facing more indoor insects in the past two years than my entire life.

My boyfriend now gets annoyed everytime I scream or ask him to remove a bug from the house.

We live in a two story townhouse. Last summer we dealt with probably 50-60 insects that got inside the house. This included large water roaches (?)(a little smaller and darker than palmetto bugs), various sized roaches, slugs, crickets, love bugs, stink bugs, silverfish and spiders.

My main concern are the roaches because they are in our plumbing during the summer. Last year it was the dishwasher and downstairs bathroom. Now it's mainly the UPSTAIRS bathroom sink. Upstairs was the "bug safe" area during the summer...

I dread having to use the bathroom, take showers or use the dishwasher.

A lot of people said to "get used to it" because Tennessee is full of bugs and it's a way of life.

How does a professional pest control company deal with roaches that are inside the pipes? Is there anything we personally can do? I tried pouring various things down the drains, but overnight they come back up (saw the little roach poops).

Last summer, here is what happened:

-management had pest control spray extra
-management switched pest control companies after complaints of water roaches from a few of us
-they fogged our downstairs
-we personally went out and bought some roach gel stuff and also used boric acid near baseboards
-Then it became fall/winter and all of these bugs went away.

But, there was never a complete week of being bug-free.

Boyfriend is calling management today (again) and explaining to them the situation (about how just a couple of sprays downstairs along 4 walls isn't helping) and demanding they do something. It's not really a "health hazard" or whatever because there is not a whole shitload of them crawling everywhere.

Any advice?

I should mention, we keep our place clean and last summer one of the townhouses next door was empty and the other one management said was clean (?). So I dont think it's a neighbor issue... plus they don't seem like the german brown cockroaches that are attracted to filth.

I feel like our townhouse is sitting on a giant roach-infested soggy area and nothing can be done.

I'm ready to pack it up and leave!
posted by KogeLiz to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Could you block them with one of these mesh drain strainer thingies?
posted by ian1977 at 8:41 AM on July 15, 2011

Just plugging/putting one of those flat plastic plug-things over drains when they're not in use can make a big difference, believe it or not.
posted by one little who at 8:48 AM on July 15, 2011

After living in KY all my life, and having a business run out of the house we were in, see if you can't get the pest control company to switch to the commercial spray rather than the residential one. After years of roaches back home, switching to the commercial strength stuff fixed the problem for good.
posted by deezil at 8:57 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Entomologist here- the simple and effective way to do it is just as others have said: cover the drains. And you need to get in the habit of making sure that they are all covered when not in use. Once it becomes habit it won't seem like a big deal. So mesh strainer, drain cover, whatever-cover up any hole that they can crawl out of. The management company cannot do anything about it, so it is unreasonable to think that they can. Roaches live in the sewers, no ifs, ands, or buts.
posted by bolognius maximus at 9:21 AM on July 15, 2011

If you and your neighbors are using in-sink disposals significantly, you're feeding whatever lives in the sewers, or nearby (most civic sewers have significant leaks and cracks that supply water for bug nests). Cutting way back on disposal use, especially during summers, can help, some. Broad spectrum lawn insect treatments, regularly applied, also help, as they cut way back on grubs and other lawn insects that are alternate food sources for the bugs that invade your home - but it takes a season or two for such treatments to materially reduce the roach population through ancillary starvation.

If you're willing to put a lot of borax down your drains over time, and are on city sewers, you might eventually have some impact on the bugs, by eventually building up enough borate in the soil at the points of leakage in the sewers where the bugs are entering. But we're talking pounds and pounds of borax, over months, and most of that is going to eventually wind up at the sewer treatment plant, or in creeks and rivers around you, if your sewer system has a rain runoff issue. This is also going to be less effective in multi-unit housing, where the borax you're putting down the drain is also diluted by your neighbor's sewer flow. Also, you have to keep putting borax down your drains indefinitely, if you do find it helps to control the problem. And, of course, don't do this if you're on septic system, as you can "poison" the biological culture of your septic tank, and drain field.

Other than that, it's mostly a matter of keeping drains plugged mechanically, to keep the bugs from entering your home, and killing those that do. I find that a long handled, stiff bristled brush is the most effective means of killing the big palmetto bugs, as you easily impale the critters with a dozen or so bristles with one blow, and can then easily flush them away, off the brush.

Finally, FWIW, a neighbor of mine has a Chihuahua that is a fierce enemy of palmetto bugs. Which is great, I guess, but personally, I'd rather have the occasional bug than a frequently yapping Chihuahua...
posted by paulsc at 9:21 AM on July 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice so far. Gonna keep the drains closed and use covers for the shower.

Not sure what to do about the dishwasher though! I've been handwashing mostly because I'm afraid to open the friggin thing!
posted by KogeLiz at 10:26 AM on July 15, 2011

This may or may not be the advice you want, but my aunt, who has been a manager at a multiple-unit apartment complex in CA and KS for decades, informs me that one of the best ways for a tenant to break a lease without being out a bunch of money is to have a major roach problem (which, in my opinion, you have). I dont know how true this tidbit is, but you might want to contact your local tenant's rights organization or a lawyer about this.
posted by LyndsayMW at 1:16 PM on July 15, 2011

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