How to kill potential roach eggs without hurting a plant?
June 21, 2016 12:32 PM   Subscribe

A roach crawled out of my orchid pot today. I killed it but want to make sure any eggs it may have left behind are also D-E-A-D. How?

I have a number of orchids potted in bark; I keep them indoors and water them every week by giving them a good soak in a big pot in my sink. As I was doing this today, a giant roach crawled out of one of them. I had Raid nearby and was able to defeat the wretched beast, but some preliminary Googling of the matter reminded me that these types of pests lay eggs, and the last thing I want is a roach infestation in my apartment.

I found info on prevention, and how to kill adult roaches, but can't figure out how to kill any eggs that may be in the bark (especially without hurting the plant). Should I just soak the plant for a certain amount of time? Do I need to add something to the water (like dish soap)? Should I play it safe and just re-pot the plant, and if so, will that be sufficient? (Forgive my naivety--I've lived in California 30+ years and didn't even think we had roaches here; I've never had any other pest issues with my plants either.)

Ugh, so gross. Please help!
posted by lovableiago to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
Soap will not be that good for an orchid. Soaking in water will not really hurt any insect eggs, not at the timescales that won't hurt the orchid.

Is it potted in that loose bark/moss stuff? You couldget new bark/moss, then wash of the orchids "roots" and repot in clean growth medium. That may be sufficient. Roach eggs are not invisibly tiny, they have a rather large egg case, called an ootheca. In some species, it is 8-10mm in length, and I think in general you would see them if you look at the plant as you repot. See pics and more info from UMN extension service here.

I'd repot it and not worry. (Actually I would not repot it, and also not worry, but you seem worried :)
posted by SaltySalticid at 12:48 PM on June 21, 2016

Are you sure you need to do anything at all? If it was living in decaying bark, there's a good chance it was a wood roach and unlikely to cause your home any grief.
posted by flabdablet at 1:04 PM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

If it was in fact giant, then you probably don't need to worry about an infestation. Here in Arizona we have a lot of American cockroaches. American cockroaches are usually 1.5 to 2 inches in length; the roaches you need to worry about, German cockroaches, are more like half an inch. American cockroaches are gross but they don't generally infest buildings--that's the M.O. of the German cockroach. Americans mostly hang out outside, but will sometimes wander in through gaps around windows and doors. I've lived in apartments with cockroach problems that were easily solved by a new round of weatherstripping around the doors. If you keep seeing them, check for gaps around windows and doors, seal them, and run some water through any sinks, etc., that you don't use often--they can also come up from the sewers if the trap dries out.

On preview: wood roach is another non-terrible possibility.
posted by egregious theorem at 1:10 PM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ethanol will dry out the cockroach eggs, but the cockroach eggs are pretty hard to destroy (unless you are crushing them physically) and you'll likely kill your plant in the process.

If you have the dead roach, you could check to see if it was female and could lay eggs (this method should work for most species, even if you don't have an American).

Otherwise, if you're worried I'd take SaltySalticid's advice and just repot it while looking for eggs. If this is the first cockroach you've seen, it's likely just a wandering friend rather than a raging infestation.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 1:13 PM on June 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

Repot the orchid. Layer the bottom and sides of the new pot with diatomaceous earth and put it on top of the dirt as well.
posted by erst at 1:38 PM on June 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

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