August 23, 2007 3:13 PM   Subscribe

I moved into an apartment that is infested with cockroaches and i don't want them to follow me to my new place.

I am moving out of the infested apartment in a few days and was wondering if the cockroaches could somehow hitch a ride in any of my things and infest my new place. Do they lay eggs or hide in mattresses, blankets, books, or anything else I will take with me? If so, what can i do to kill them without ruining or throwing away all of my things?
posted by unreasonable to Grab Bag (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I can't offer any advice on what to do about the cockroaches themselves, but once you move to a new place you should buy and plug in one of those anti-pest devices - (I love my PestFree -

This will not only stop the cockroaches from coming back if a few strays make it to your new place, but also stops a heap of other pests as well including nasty spiders since there's nothing for them to eat.

I hope that helps! Good luck with your move :)
posted by katala at 3:58 PM on August 23, 2007

Yes, they can travel, and will. If you really want to be rid of them, you'll need to set off one of those bug bombs in your current apartment, with all of your stuff in it.

I'm not sure those chemicals are good for you, or the environment, but they're effective, and they won't ruin your things.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 4:00 PM on August 23, 2007

Sell your couch.
posted by amtho at 4:02 PM on August 23, 2007

Don't sell your couch - who the hell else wants your roaches?
posted by tristeza at 4:03 PM on August 23, 2007

The roaches we had mainly stayed in the kitchen. Their eggs were encased in egg cases. This site says they either carry their cases around with them until right before the eggs hatch, or (unfortunately for you) hide them in a secure place. The good news is that this secure place is probably in your cabinets, baseboards, or behind the fridge rather than your belongings. The best way to fight them is a dual attack of starving them out and setting roach traps. Buy lots of tupperware and make sure that all of your food is securely sealed. Don't let dishes sit in the sink for more than a day. If you take these precautions in your new place, you can probably keep them from getting a foothold in your place, even if a few do manage to hitch a ride with you.
posted by SBMike at 4:05 PM on August 23, 2007

I had the same problem a few years back. When I moved out from my seriously roach-infested apartment, I wrapped large trash bags around all my belongings, sprinkled boric acid inside the bags, sealed them up, and (except for the items I absolutely needed immediately) kept them sealed up for at least a week after I got to the new place.

It worked - I never saw a live roach at my new house. I didn't have any furniture to move, however, so that made things simpler for me.
posted by tdismukes at 4:27 PM on August 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

The thing with insect infestations is that you have to treat it like nuclear winter. It's either you, or them. Show no mercy.

This is what I'd do: anything that you eat with (pots, pans, cups, silverware) I'd pack these first. Hopefully you don't have too many of these items, and you can exam the (brand-new) box you're going to buy.

After you've gotten rid of your potential collateral damage, fumigate the whole area. I would do 2 or 3. Pretend it's like Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Light them up when you go to work, see if you can crash at a friend's place, and just come back the next day.

Pack as per normal. After the fumigation, they'll surrender. Just be careful in case you have random islands. As long as you're thorough, you should be fine.
posted by unexpected at 4:31 PM on August 23, 2007

Yes, they travel with you even if you think there's no place to hide. A few years back, we had an infestation in our apartment building. I traveled to Sweden in part to get away, and we found that at least a few came with me in my suitcase. (/shudder, making me itch just thinking about it)

The only thing that worked for us was fumigation, like a lot of people have said. The landlord kicked out our neighbors for sanitation violations and fumigated their apartment and sprayed ours and everyone else's in the building. Spraying didn't really solve the issue, though, so we used a few sets of bug bombs over the course of a week, together with boric acid along all the floorboards. The bug bombs were awesome, and didn't leave any visible or tangible chemical residue. I cleared out dead roaches for days, but we haven't had an issue since.

I think that it would be hard to make sure that you don't bring any with you. I would recommend fumigating at least once in your old place, before you pack things up. Then do it again once you have moved into your new place, just to be sure.
posted by gemmy at 4:53 PM on August 23, 2007

I have two words for you.

Roach paste.

It works.

Just so you know, these things can get into cardboard boxes and hitch rides. The recommendation to use trash bags and boric acid is one I would consider if I were you. I would also preemptively put the roach paste in your new place.
posted by konolia at 5:41 PM on August 23, 2007

It is war. You CANNOT take your furniture with you, especially the couch. If you must take some of your things with you the garbage bag and boric acid maybe the only way that I would half way consider. Roaches hitch rides on anything.

If I were you, I would do boric acid and roach paste balls in the new place as a pre-emptive.

The amount of time, creep out factor and cost of pesticides will outweigh getting a new couch.
posted by jadepearl at 6:50 PM on August 23, 2007

They could hide in any box, regardless of what you put in the box. Quick, careful packing followed by sealing the box as carefully as possible may reduce the chances of stowaways, but it's difficult to guarantee. Furniture *can* be fumigated, I've managed it, but if you can follow the advice above and rid yourself of it, the job will be easier.

Based on your location, I'm assuming you have the little guys like we have in Minnesota, not the Jurassic monstrosities found in some other states. Everything's bigger in Texas, you know. Keep an eye out for the egg cases--they look like little square beans. If they haven't hatched out yet, flush them--or burn them. Show no mercy. If they seem flimsy and fragile, they're empty. Better luck next time.

From my experiences many years may also want to consider getting rid of inexpensive appliances and electronics. They can hide in there, too. Worse, they will crawl in when they're small, grow too large to escape, then use the lair as a base camp to repopulate other areas that you've cleaned. Limited food supplies in the area where they're trapped are made up for by cannibalism.

Coffee makers have warm, moist crevices that you will overlook until you realize you've been breeding bugs in them, possibly even brewing coffee over them.

I had a cheapo electric mixer that I took with me after moving away from bugs. A week later, I tried making whipped cream with it, only to have baby roaches leaping from the narrow air vents in the mixer into the cream.

The worst example was with a pair of stereo headphones that I rarely used. A friend of mine put them on to try them out, and felt a tickle on his ear. Roaches had crawled inside the headphone, grew too large to escape, but could still wiggle appendages out enough to make their presence known.

I could keep going, but that's enough for now. Pleasant dreams, everyone.
posted by gimonca at 9:47 PM on August 23, 2007

Seconding that they love to nest in the TV set. Smartest thing my family ever did was to leave all our belongings in a unheated space in the dead of winter. Killed those suckers dead (of course we still had lots of bug bodies and roach feces in them). If you don't have access to winter (given the season), I second the bug bombs and boric acid. All your electrical devices, radios, tvs, etc. will be infested.

Finally, if you have asthma or other respiratory ailments be careful b/c roach feces is a big asthma trigger.
posted by zia at 10:10 PM on August 23, 2007

Heat kills roaches, and you might be able to adapt insect killing techniques to your move if you pack everything into one moving truck, and heat it to 150 degrees for 5 plus hours. If the truck is tightly packed, you may have to heat it longer.

But multiple bug bombings might be easier / less likely to result in a possession destroying fire.
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:33 PM on August 23, 2007

I do not know how long cockroaches can survive without food and water, but one thing you can do is pack all things you don't need into boxes, and tape all along the seams. Then store it for multiple months in a warm area like a shed or cheap storage (warm temperatures keeps the insect's metabolism up so that it starves quicker). We stored sealed boxes this way for a year in a shed that had scorpions and other vermin, and none ever showed up when we unpacked. Plus with all that clutter out of the way you can fumigate better.
posted by zek at 5:18 AM on August 24, 2007

Everyone is correct about the boric acid approach - (it's also found in some grocerys in the laundry soap area, called "borax") This stuff does work. It's when the little buggers cross over/come into contact with the stuff that it does them in - not the fumes.

Part of construction practices for commercial kitchens was to place a line of borax at all exterior walls. This was quite useful and effective. Sadly, this has given way to the use of strong chemicals.
posted by mightshould at 5:21 AM on August 24, 2007

Zek, roaches can survive for a month on the residual glue of a postage stamp.
posted by BrotherCaine at 6:57 AM on August 24, 2007

In regard to how long they can survive.. a cockroach can survive for a month sans a head - providing that the wound does not get infected.
posted by rainy at 11:21 AM on August 25, 2007

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