Saw a cockroach in our new house. Now what?
August 5, 2016 9:39 AM   Subscribe

Just spotted a cockroach in our new house. Now what? Rumple: we have a baby.

First-time homeowner here. We've been in our new place about a month, and just yesterday I spotted a german cockroach (I'm 90 percent sure it was a german cockroach) ambling across one of the kitchen counters. My husband killed it.

I am beyond disgusted, and determined to nip this problem in the bud if at all possible. There were german cockroaches in the house I lived in as a kid, and it was so gross.

However, we have a two-month-old baby, and I don't want to do anything that will jeopardize her health, now or when she starts crawling.

Given the baby angle, should we call an exterminator now? Put out traps? Simply try to be as good as we can about not leaving food out, storing food in airtight containers, etc? I've read that it's a good idea to plug up all entries to the house, which sounds like good advice, but I have no idea how I'd actually go about it; the house is a large rowhouse in the mid-Atlantic region, and it's over 100 years old. It's been well maintained, but I'm sure there are jillions of little crevices.

Ugh. Reeling in horror over here.
posted by toomuchkatherine to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Best answer: There's actually a fair bit that exterminators can do that won't pose a threat to your baby, they don't just come in and hose the place down anymore. They can put gel in the seams in your cabinets, stick bait stations in hard to reach places, you have options.
posted by cakelite at 10:00 AM on August 5, 2016 [12 favorites]

Yeah, in one of those houses, you're never going to roachproof it. Go with a professional.
posted by Etrigan at 10:07 AM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

If it's just one, I would wait and see if you get another one. A bug here and there is unavoidable. I do live in the American South, land of a million huge cockroaches, but we run across 3 or 4 in the summertime that manage to find their way in somehow.

I also live in a row house, and for general prevention we have an exterminator come every 2 months, mainly because the first year we had terrible ant problems. He only ever sprays outside and we have not had any bug problems since the regular treatment started. It's worth the $25 a month.
posted by something something at 10:09 AM on August 5, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Where do you live? Has it been hot lately? Have you had the windows or the doors open?

What I would do is try to gauge the seriousness of the problem. It's possible the cockroach came in from outside. It's also possible it crawled up the drain in your sink.

To figure out just how serious your problem is, get some glue traps (cockroach motels), and place them in strategic locations around your house:

Between the fridge and the wall
In the cabinet under the kitchen sink
In different corners of your kitchen
In your bathroom under the sink
Next to the toilet
Anywhere where there is moisture (cockroaches love and need warm and humid environments)

This way you can figure out if this was just an isolated incident. If you do have a serious infestation (if one of your traps captures multiple roaches, or if more than one of your traps catches a roach) at least you can see where the problem area is, and can then decide to call an exterminator.

If you've been moving, it's likely you have a lot of clutter around at the moment. One of the best things to do is to get rid of that clutter asap. Cockroaches love piles of paper, piles of clothing, stacks of boxes, anything lined against a wall, etc. It makes for a good hiding space, and a place to lay eggs.

I'm also wondering if the roach hitched a ride with your moving company or something.

I wouldn't panic just yet, but I would definitely set out those glue traps, as well as bait.

(I live part-time in an old house in a country where the damn things *fly*)
posted by My Dad at 10:24 AM on August 5, 2016 [7 favorites]

Reminder: roaches are not commentary on your housekeeping, and they likely a) are hatching out of any cardboard boxes left from your move, because they love cardboard b) are thirsty. Drying your sinks and showers would be more meaningful than not leaving food out.

Exterminators are better at blocking up entry points, in my experience, and the gel-based bait they put out will be very nearly inaccessible to people/animals so that's preferable. Additionally, they will treat the outside of the house, which makes a huge difference.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:25 AM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, all, I am feeling better already. And I have some work to do!
posted by toomuchkatherine at 10:35 AM on August 5, 2016

Oh man, German Cockroaches. They're like little Nazis.

One thing to know is that standard roach spray (RAID, etc) won't kill them. You need Max Force Gel. The good thing is that this is probably less toxic to have around your baby, because you're not spraying it in the air.
posted by radioamy at 11:43 AM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

You can sprinkle boric acid behind your fridge and in other areas where you know baby won't go. Since you are just moving in, I'm assuming that you had a few nights with the lights on and no curtains up? That could have been what drew it in. They are attracted to the light. You may not have an infestation. It could have just been the one traveller. I wouldn't cover my home in chemicals unless there was an absolute problem. Give it a week or two to figure out how much you actually need to do. In the meantime, turn the lights off in the rooms with no window treatments and ask your husband to go around sealing up cracks where things can get in.
posted by myselfasme at 8:58 AM on August 6, 2016

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