Roach drama
September 10, 2018 8:13 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend who like me, despises the roach: I haaaaaaaaaate roaches. Hate! What should I do if I see one in the common area of a building right before signing a lease? Snowflake: I’ve already lived in the building for a year without incident.

I live in a pretty new building in SF with probably ~100 units. My old place was first floor, near a construction site, a garage, and the trash chute. Prime pest real estate, and we never saw anything worse than a spider in the hallway. This was a huge source of psychological comfort me as I have a terror of roaches that I probably need therapy to treat. (I’ve had them in the past and my life basically crumbled each time.)

However, we recently decided to change units in our building as a larger place opened up. While moving, we saw a dead adult German cockroach in the elevator. The elevator is in the middle of the building, while we are off on a wing. The day we saw it we saw two other people moving in, plus a bunch of people throwing a party in a common area.

This is the only post I’ve ever seen here. Part of me is completely freaking out and afraid to sign a new lease in case there IS a problem in this new unit. The other part of me wants to chill, because

1. The building management is responsive,
2. It was one single dead roach, which could have fallen out of someone’s stuff while they were moving in (still not great but you know, could’ve been from a storage unit or something),
3. Maybe a dog brought it in? Idk,
4. Again, I’ve never seen any other sign of pests in the building, except an empty sticky trap in the basement, which is a basement.
5. I assume every urban building has to deal with pests and what makes a difference is how persistent they are... i.e., all buildings have pests, but it’s usually the fault of unresponsive landlords when the problem spreads and takes hold.

But aren’t German roaches like the really pesky ones that love to colonize people’s actual homes? I would feel less freaked out if I saw a nasty sewer roach or something that I could rationalize as a normal part of life.

So what should I do? Ask management if they’ve had a problem? (I assume they have no incentive to tell me the truth and probably do not legally need to disclose?) Go on with my life? Move somewhere else like a nut?
posted by stoneandstar to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would start by telling management and see what their response is. (Their response should be an extra round of spraying/calling an exterminator)
posted by raccoon409 at 8:27 PM on September 10, 2018

Well, there’s the known, and then there’s the unknown, and you need to decide which feels more comfortable.
The known: 1 year of observing only one roach in the building
The unknown: roach incidence frequency in literally every other building you might choose - could be higher, could be 0

Personally, I would take greater comfort in the “known” situation than the “unknown.” Best of luck!
posted by samthemander at 8:44 PM on September 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

This is just my experience. Got to Walmart and get some Borax in the roach aisle. Squirt that stuff around your place. Then also tell management.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:45 PM on September 10, 2018

Any building in a major city has roaches. If you saw one, there’s hundreds more. Thousands. And they were there before you saw them.

I’d work on the phobia.
posted by spitbull at 8:59 PM on September 10, 2018 [11 favorites]

I'd be more concerned if I saw a dead roach in your apartment, or in the hallway near your apartment. I mean, the things could likely be in the walls or the ceiling or whatever, but what they're really looking for is food, water and a place to nest/procreate.

They're also looking to escape from a harsh environment (e.g., outside, where it's cold and there isn't a lot of food) to a pleasant environment (e.g., your apartment).

With that in mind, and if you haven't seen dead roaches in or around your apartment, consider how they would get in.

Open windows from your balcony etc is a typical exploit. Forced air heating ducts is another possible exploit. Another is the drain in your kitchen sink, or the bathtub or wash basin in your bathroom. If there is some sort of pipe or conduit coming up through a hole in the floor -- that's another exploit.

So, keep your windows and your screen doors closed. Plug your sinks and so on when you're not using them. For possible exploits you can block off, such as heating vents, then conduct defense-in-depth.

I usually try to anticipate routes in a living space -- cockroaches will follow the same route, generally -- and lay bait traps on those routes. I also lay glue traps at possible entry points, such as the balcony. I put glue traps where there is food (somewhere along the refrigerator) and where it is damp, such as under the sink in the kitchen and the bathroom.

I also make it difficult to hide by picking up clothes, stacks of papers and any other clutter.

We live in an old house in Japan, in between two other old houses. There are lots of holes and nooks and crannies, so I really to create concentric lines of defense, catching the cockroaches before they can make their way in. By torrid mid-summer, my gluetraps catch about one cockroach a day, usually in my exterior perimeter.
posted by JamesBay at 9:16 PM on September 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

The building management is responsive

This is the most important part, and anywhere you live it is what is going to make the difference. Roaches spread like, well, roaches and if there weren’t already active measures being taken you would have seen a lot more than one by now.

If there is a Facebook group or mailing list for building residents you could double check there.

In the meantime I would sign the lease as it’s hard to imagine a much better situation than you describe, roachwise.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:40 PM on September 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

I use two things -- diatomaceous earth and a mixture of Boric Acid/Cornstarch. I live in Houston, have not had a professional exterminator out to our house in 15 years, and only occasionally find a Cockroach dead or dying once a month or so. If I have to battle a live and spry one, I know it's one that came in from the yard. Diatomaceous Earth and Boric Acid > Houston Cockroach Population, at least for me.
posted by cross_impact at 11:50 AM on September 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

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