Best building-wide cockroach treatment?
February 3, 2017 8:51 AM   Subscribe

Six out of ten units in my small condo building reported seeing cockroaches in the last few weeks. Our contracted pest control company recommends treating the whole building. Their instructions call for removing all items from all cabinets, shelves, closets, and moving all furniture away from the walls. This is a significant burden for me and a few of the single, elderly residents. I am on the board and exploring options we can recommend. Two questions after the jump:

1. Is there a treatment we can get instead of the proposed one that doesn't require tearing the house apart?
2. Is there an equally effective treatment that isn't as toxic to humans (no pets in the building, so that is not a concern)?
posted by Atrahasis to Grab Bag (12 answers total)
That seems extreme.

It IS important to treat the whole building, otherwise there will be plenty of refugia where the roaches can hang out and then recolonize from that population reservoir. But just because you want to treat the whole building doesn't mean you have to empty every cupboard and move everything from the walls- they probably just want you do do that so it's easier for them to apply poison.

If it were me, I'd skip the pros and attempt a DIY: just get a few packs of this stuff, and give one tube to each tenant, along with instructions to squirt a bit on a scrap of paper and leave one in each corner and several along any walls and hallways. I like to use junk mail. You can put the stuff directly into cracks and such, but the paper trick makes cleanup easy. Skip out on any pre-baited "roach motel" type products, those are fairly useless in my experience.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:59 AM on February 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Speaking from long experience with cockroaches (live in an older house in Japan), you need to treat the whole building, and you need to do what they say. You may consider hiring someone to assist with the furniture moving and cupboard cleaning.

Using bait is the simplest and easiest way to get rid of them, but it takes a while. And you have to make sure your entire building, including every nook and cranny, is attacked.

I would venture that you're never going to get rid of your cockroaches. A building-wide infestation means you've reached a critical mass of the critters. They are always going to retreat into some part of the building, and then re-emerge over the months that follow the extermination treatment.

As well, if there are seniors in your building, it likely means their apartments are going to be cluttered, and that's what cockroaches like. They like piles of paper and clothes, and so on.

So, hiring some additional help to do the pre-extermination prep is going to be necessary.
posted by My Dad at 9:13 AM on February 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

Treat the whole building as recommended by the exterminators, it's the right thing to do. Maybe someone will pipe in with something about an essential oil or baking soda or whatever, but I'm pretty sure that sort of thing (along with building management failing to follow recommendations) is how whole cities end up with intractable roach problems (so that it becomes impossible to find a pest-free apartment...). Hire help for the seniors. Maybe see if some who can afford it would be willing to pitch in to keep the building clean.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:17 AM on February 3, 2017

Yes, unless some fabulous new technology has just emerged, a building-wide infestation means building-wide treatment. And it may still take some time.

Speaking from painful personal experience here.
posted by praemunire at 9:19 AM on February 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

The action of moving stuff out of closets, etc., will help you look for possible food sources and other bug-fostering phenomena. Also, you may get enough access to determine if you have someone with a hoarding problem (don't be over-liberal with that description -- if you have a serious hoarder, it will be undeniable), which could also be a huge contributor.

Do be sensitive, and give them enough time to make plans and accommodations and get help from friends.
posted by amtho at 9:55 AM on February 3, 2017

Not really, sorry. Also speaking from painful personal experience. And brace yourselves for this to have to happen multiple times, at minimum. The best thing you can do is see if you can find volunteers or paid helpers to do the stuff-wrangling, that you'd be able to tap for the next several rounds of treatment. You may also want to explore establishing a routine of prophylactic inspection and treatment for the whole building after this, because My Dad is right - you will probably never get rid of them permanently unless you nuke the building from orbit, so your best solution is ongoing management.

I really am sorry. A poorly managed entrenched cockroach problem pretty much ruined my quality of life for several years. It's very rough; good luck and hopefully you all have more success than we did.
posted by bowtiesarecool at 10:02 AM on February 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

Not sure if this would be helpful or relevant or possible for you, but this post (on reddit, FYI) was the only thing that worked for me -- specifically the Gentrol Insect Growth Regulator (roach birth control) and the InVict Gold Cockroach Gel (death).

Again, as mentioned above, EVERYONE has to do it -- because they'll just shift elsewhere -- but if everyone does it they'll likely move out of the building.
posted by knownassociate at 10:15 AM on February 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

Having dealt with several different types of cockroaches, you definitely need to use poison. Nothing "natural" will help.

Out of curiosity, do you know what type of roaches they found? I rented a place that got German Cockroaches, and those fuckers require military-grade treatment. My landlord refused to treat the entire building, so we had to leave. When we moved out, we found them everywhere. Like, my husband unscrewed coat-hook from the wall and they came streaming out.
posted by radioamy at 11:55 AM on February 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

Radioamy, I have heard complaints about "giant cockroaches" which I see outdoors sometimes, given we are in SoCal. Not ruling out German roaches, too.
posted by Atrahasis at 12:58 PM on February 3, 2017

Cockroaches do develop resistance to pesisticides, and there are some new treatments, but diatomaceous earth is the only way to address a cockroach infestation. Evolution is not quite quick enough (in a human timescale).
posted by My Dad at 1:17 PM on February 3, 2017

Roaches are like lice -- go full bore with pesticides, do it thoroughly, every nook and cranny, and be prepared to retreat as needed. It will be needed. Sorry.
This may be a good time for a gentle but firm discussion about cleaning out old debris, since it will have to be moved several times over the next year for respraying (even if the exterminators say otherwise). Because this is where the roaches will be nesting.
Maybe a general large trash pickup can be arranged for the junk that has accumulated over the years? Sometimes people hang onto stuff until they are ready to move that -- really -- could have been tossed in the dumpster decades ago.
Also, check outside the main living quarters. Storage buildings and garages may harbor pests as well.
posted by TrishaU at 2:26 PM on February 3, 2017

A glimmer of hope: if you're only seeing the giant roaches like over 2" long, they are wanderers in from the outside. They are easier to get rid of with the method that Saltysaltycid mentioned.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 3:32 PM on February 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older "Older Posts" button -- removing it from WordPress   |   Building stamina and bone strength with health... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.