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Cockroaches becoming resistant to most chemical insecticides (sciencemag.org)
133 points by pseudolus 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 147 comments

Mix baking soda and sugar together and put them in a bowl. Will kill them dead without toxicity to humans.

Boric acid has no resistance.

Bay leaves repel about every insect known to man. Roaches hate bay leaves and will not be in the same area with them.

Editing to say that bay leaves can be crushed in a coffee grinder, put in a plastic ketchup/mustard bottle as a powder, and the resulting powder "puffed" into areas where they have been. This can be done outside as well. Combine this with orange oil concentrate and your house will be insect free fairly quickly. Cheap, too.

Editing to add, here in the south, loads of people also buy concentrated orange oil from places like Tractor Supply and mix it with water in a pump sprayer. Spray the permimeter of your house and zero insects will cross it. It's toxic as hell to the insects because it dissolves their bodies, but non-toxic to cats, dogs, lizards, etc. They will NOT develop a resistance to being melted by the citric acid.

I hope you're correct, and I have used diatomaceous earth (not in your list, but similar in nature) to mitigate travelers as I moved out of a cockroach infested place.

But broadly speaking, I have to at least be a little skeptical - if all of these things are such easy fixes with no cost to human health, why are we even having this conversation about insecticides? Why was the market created in the first place? Is it just good advertising?

I live north of Houston. We have more insects, snakes, and critters than most places on earth. Just in my area we have spiders (wolf, black widow, brown recluse, among others), roaches, ants (fire and normal), scorpions, centipedes, mosquitoes, and more.

I have successfully used these to combat insects inside my home. My wife does not like the smell of the orange oil, so I use it judiciously inside (laundry room), but outside around the perimeter. My children aren't exposed to toxic chemicals, but the bugs don't cross the perimeter much. Orange oil appears as "expensive" per liter, but it's concentrated, so I mix it in a gallon sprayer with water and spray. I might actually try soaking bay leaves in the water with the orange oil overnight. In this heat and humidity, the resulting water just might be really nasty for insects.

My grandmother swears by spreading cayenne pepper in lieu of bay leaf powder.

I think the market sees an opportunity, despite health risks, to market this stuff as an easy solution, but it's like doctors prescribing antibiotics for everything. It's efficacy is wearing thin as insects develop an immunity. I guess nature knows a thing or two about handling insects, so I appeal to the non-toxic stuff as much as possible.

Cool, glad to hear it's working. I've also used cayenne pepper and cinnamon on ants, and tried cleaning their trail with vinegar. They're the Argentine kind (San Francisco area) which means they are _legion_, so I had limited results.

We use balsamic vinegar (or wine) to lure fruit flies. I make a trap with paper, scissors, tape, a glass, and vinegar. Get a clean glass and fil it with a few cm of vinegar. From the paper cut a funnel with a small hole (2 mm or so) on the bottom. Use the tape to attach the paper to the glass (use more tape if there are open holes cause else they might escape). The paper will slowly get spots from the flies/liquid. Lasts a couple of weeks. Be careful when you toss it away, so that no flies escape.

We zap flies with an electronic zapper (looks like a tennis racket). There's a couple of tricks I learned from it but yeah just make sure you clean up the mess. The zapper resides on the fridge because we got a young human being frolicking around.

Watered down lemon ammonia works great for killing a pheromone trail. Smells OK and it works.

Terro ant baits are boric acid. A couple times a year we get a stream of ants coming into our kitchen near the sink. I have never been able to track down where they come from. They just appear out of cracks in the wall. But in any case, the only way I've effectively gotten rid of them is to put out a couple Terro liquid ant baits on the window sill, and they're gone within a day or two... at least for a few months.

They're coming from outside. They establish routes that are many meters long through all available seams and cracks. Use Amdro ant bait (not 'blocker') in the spring around the structure perimeter when temps get above 10C/50F, avoiding wet weather. They carry the bait back to the nest and wipe it out. Follow the directions scrupulously and be patient; it will take a week. If you have a lawn keep it thick and healthy; ants usually prefer bare ground for nests. It's possible, with good landscaping and aggressive use of a caulking gun (assuming the structure is otherwise in good condition,) to keep them out, but that is often not feasible, and some ants are more industrious than others.

> why are we even having this conversation about insecticides?

It might be the same as when people insist on treating a (viral) cold with antibiotics. Not only are they the wrong kind of treatment, they are also a massive overreaction.

Perhaps boric acid is not the kind of thing you can make massive profits from.

Boric acid is mentioned in the article, they are developing resistance.

How can they develop a resistance to something that physically destroys their exoskeleton? It acts as an abrasive.

>Boric acid also has the reputation as "the gift that keeps on killing" in that cockroaches that cross over lightly dusted areas do not die immediately, but that the effect is like shards of glass cutting them apart. This often allows a roach to go back to the nest where it soon dies.

edit: found the article,

>All of the tested resistance intervention strategies selected for increased resistance to all AIs applied in field treatments except boric acid....Our results also showed non-significant, but nonetheless elevated cross-“tolerance” towards boric acid in some instances.[0]

So it's probably noise in the data. Boric acid is different from the rest of the substances studied. It may not be all that effective however, according to the paper, is my take.

[0] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44296-y

I get the sense that someone has confused boric acid with diatomaceous earth, and spread their confusion to Wikipedia.

For an insect with a waxy cuticle over their exoskeleton, walking over diatomaceous earth is basically like John McClane in Die Hard, running in bare feet over broken glass. Except instead of bleeding to death from the lacerations, the water in their hemolymph diffuses out at a faster rate through the scratches in their cuticle, and they dehydrate to death. The glasslike skeletons of diatoms are hard, sharp, and insoluble in water at neutral pH.

Boric acid has to be ingested. It's a chemical poison. It works fine when added to bait. Sprinkling it as a powder won't work as well, as the insect would have to be dusted with it over their body, and then groom themselves shortly thereafter to remove the powder. Walking through it just dusts the ends of the legs. It works especially well with ants, who will carry poisoned baits back to the colony, but only if you add it to sugar or peanut butter.

As boric acid is softer than glass, and soluble in water, I wouldn't count on it as an insect-killing abrasive.

We can all blame Wikipedia user Rfc1394, who added the text to the Boric Acid article at 10:05, 23 June 2017, apparently with a citation to the EPA R.E.D. factsheet, which does not contain anything remotely close to the text added.

After talking with another user, it's become clear that yes you are mistaken. Your confusion about the wikipedia source led you down an incorrect path. I shouldn't have taken your statements at face value as true. You are ironically the problem you were attempting to point out -- being confused about a source, and then spreading that confusion.

First: The wikipedia source (EPA R.E.D. factsheet) you said didn't "contain anything remotely close to the text" actually does.

>Pesticide products containing boric acid and its sodium salts are registered in the U.S. for use as insecticides, fungicides and herbicides. As insecticides, some act as stomach poisons in ants, cockroaches, silverfishand termites, while others abrade the exoskeletons of insects. [0]

Second: Boric acid has a hardness of 3 not 1 as you claimed. Diatomaceous Earth has a hardness of 1-1.5. [1] [2] This just about blows a hole in every point you've yet tried to make.

I know I won't get an apology, or probably even a concession of your error, but I am posting this reply for posterity -- so other's aren't mislead.

[0] https://web.archive.org/web/20080406065032/http://www.epa.go... -- the wiki source that was incorrectly identified as not supporting the claim

[1] http://www.americanborate.com/all-about-borates/borate-appli... -- another source about the abrasive properties + boric acid hardness

[2] https://www.tedpella.com/company_html/hardness.htm -- boric acid hardness

Is it possible that the statement is about a pesticide product containing boric acid or a sodium salt of boric acid, and that the abrasive element in said product is not the boric acid?

Boric acid, or B(OH)3, is the mineral sassolite, and has Mohs hardness 1. [0]

Boric anhydride, or B2O3, has a Mohs hardness of 4. [1] It is not boric acid. It converts to boric acid in the presence of water, and is hygroscopic, so will also do so in the presence of humidity.

Borax, or Na2B4O5(OH)4•8(H2O), has a Mohs hardness of 2-2.5 . It is not boric acid. It converts to boric acid in the presence of strong acid, and is considered a hydrated sodium salt of boric acid.

Diatomaceous earth is a sedimentary material, not a pure mineral. It has components of different hardness, the relevant factor being the crushed frustules of ancient diatoms, or diatomaceous silica. "The ultimate hardness of the diatom skeleton is between 4.5 and 5 on the Mohs' scale.... The friability, or the propensity of the skeleton to break down, rather than to abrade, renders a measurement of hardness meaningless without also a consideration of the particle size." [3]

The "not even close" text was the actually quoted text "the gift that keeps on killing". Quoted from the cited source? No. The other dubious hyperbolic phrase was "the effect is like shards of glass cutting them apart", which also does not appear in the cited source. "Shards of glass" does bring to mind a broken diatom frustule, which is literally a shard of sharp silica when viewed under a microscope. There's quite a step up in intensity from "related chemicals may be abrasive" to "this exact chemical is like sharp shards of glass".

Your sources are a company that sells microscopes and "about us" copy for a company that sells mineral borates. I'm not certain what borate it has with a Mohs hardness of 3, but that means it can scratch a fingernail. Try it at home. Grow the biggest boric acid crystal you can, and then try to scratch your fingernail with it. About the only thing holding it together as a solid at all is hydrogen bonding and van der Waals forces. There is nothing there chemically to give it hardness. Individual molecules flake off readily.

So no, I will not apologize or concede.

[0] http://webmineral.com/data/Sassolite.shtml

[1] https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/boric%20anhydride#...

[2] http://webmineral.com/data/Borax.shtml

[3] https://www3.epa.gov/ttn/chief/old/ap42/ch11/s22/reference/r...

I think you're mistaken. There are many other independent sources that talk about its action as an abrasive. You may be the one spreading confusion.

Here's one of many. This one is from the National Pesticide Information Center which operates out of Oregon State University in partnership with the EPA (OSU has a large focus on agricultural research.)

> It can also scratch and damage the exterior of insects.


I'd take a source that has been peer-reviewed by entomologists containing the evidence of independently repeatable measurements.

The falsifiable hypothesis is that crystalline boric acid can kill an insect without being ingested, by a purely mechanical action.

Sassolite (boric acid) has a Mohs hardness of ONE. Please understand why I might be skeptical of its supposed reputation for killing things by scratching them. Minerals with low Mohs hardness, like graphite, talc, and yes, also boric acid, are used as lubricants.[0]

I also question whether those multiple sources in support are truly independent, as I have seen several search results that quote the Wikipedia article verbatim.

[0] http://nersp.nerdc.ufl.edu/~wsawyer/boricWear2006.PDF

You think the EPA, the University of Oregon, and the National Pesticide Information Center are wrong?

Seems likely. Rather, they stated that 'fact' without anything more than anecdotal evidence.

This paper investigates a far more likely method of action: http://zero.sci-hub.tw/673/f8d7a6469e96789d8c958eb3c4efdc46/...

You're flat wrong.

I didn't bother checking the other claims that logfromblammo made before my previous comments, I accepted them at face value, but I did this time; Boric acid has a hardness of 3 not 1 as he claimed. Diatomaceous Earth has a hardness of 1-1.5. [0][1]

I looked at the source for the wikipedia claim that logfromblammo described so: "which does not contain anything remotely close to the text added". The source does support the claim in wikipedia. [2]

>Pesticide products containing boric acid and its sodium salts are registered in the U.S. for use as insecticides, fungicides and herbicides. As insecticides, some act as stomach poisons in ants, cockroaches, silverfishand termites, while others abrade the exoskeletons of insects.

The foundational premise behind his original post "unsourced wikipedia edit mislead other websites" is flat wrong. And on top of that, his reasoning for why boric acid wouldn't be a good abrasive "mohs hardness of 1" is also wrong, and egregiously so when the infamous Diatomaceous Earth that he claims is being mistaken for boric acid has a mohs hardness of 1-1.5! It's an irrelevant argument.

My initial diagnosis of logfromblammo being the one who was confused was absolutely correct. Very disappointed in both of you. Hopefully many people weren't mislead by being convinced by logfromblammo as you were.

[0] http://www.americanborate.com/all-about-borates/borate-appli... -- another source about the abrasive properties + boric acid hardness

[1] https://www.tedpella.com/company_html/hardness.htm -- boric acid hardness

[2] https://web.archive.org/web/20080406065032/http://www.epa.go... -- the wiki source that was incorrectly identified as not supporting the claim

I think they are referring to pesticides that contain boron, and not specifically to the individual chemical component B(OH)3 (s), a.k.a. solid boric acid.

I can easily imagine a commercial pesticide targeted at ants and roaches that contains borates, sugar, and diatomaceous earth, because that is exactly what I use in my own kitchen, made from the individual components. It is effective, and has low toxicity to humans and pets. But to be clear, it is abrasive because the D.E. component is abrasive, not from the boric acid.

D.E. is actually the only powdered pesticidal substance I am aware of that kills via mechanical means.

> How can they develop a resistance to something that physically destroys their exoskeleton? It acts as an abrasive.

Broadly speaking, couldn't they just develop a change to the structure of their exoskeleton? I can see how it might be less likely than a chemical resistance, but it still seems possible.

I'm sure it's possible, but it's like a human being developing a resistance to a hammer to the skull. It would take much more than few generations of selective pressure to do that.

Your skull IS such an adaptation. Not hammer, but it does protect your CNS from many physical harms, and was evolutionarily gifted to you back in the days of early vertebrates

I'm not saying it's not an adaptation. Think about the scale of time you just referenced and compare it to the frame of time of the study and my comment.

Read my comment again.

Thank you.

The speed of evolution is mainly a function of the length of a generation (and also of the amount of pressure from the environment). Consider how long human generations are compared to cockroaches, and how little evolutionary pressure humans face today. Read my comment again. Thank you

I did read your comment. You're wrong. A few generations (1.5 years) would not plausibly have this effect. I doubt even a hundred generations would be able to select for something so significant since it's a weakness that all exoskeleton insects have. Insects have remained largely the same for millions of years.

I never said it wasn't possible, I said it wasn't plausible for it happen on short scales of time such as this study.

You're being pedantic, but you're still wrong.

Different humans have skulls of different thicknesses and if there was a situation where hammer skullings became major cause of death I'm sure that over time those with thicker skulls or other features that made them less susceptible to skullings would survive and flourish.

how many generations will roaches have passed through within the space of one year? tens? hundreds? thousands?

American cockroaches take 6 months to a year to reach reproductive maturity

Orange oil doesn't contain citric acid, it is mostly limonene.

While we’re on the subject of insect-killing tricks, dish soap + water in a spray bottle is an excellent at killing flies, and it’s very safe for you.

>They will NOT develop a resistance to being melted by the citric acid.

No, but you encourage the selection of the organisms who have a resistance to citric acid, or whatever substance you are using. I think it's very presumptuous to say that by killing everything with a substance you aren't selecting for that resistance.

cleaning also helps

Powdered or crystallized sugar?

Crystalline (table sugar). Powered would likely work as well. The baking soda destroys them from the inside out, basically blowing them up. Roaches have strong stomach acid, but they cannot "burp" so the baking soda creates a mini explosion inside them. Fitting end.

Thanks, I'm going to try this.

Just to be clear: "baking soda" is Bicarbonate of soda (aka. bicarb soda, sodium bicarbonate)?

Mix in equal proportions?

It's a dry mix, not with water?

Yes, 50/50. Plain old Arm&Hammer. Dry.

Thanks. I would have thought the large crystals of sugar would be easy for them to differentiate... but perhaps the baking power ia so fine-grained, it coats the sugar.

I have to try the bay leaves. Thanks for these pointers.

cool. Now how do I get rid of the ants that are eating the sugar?

The baking soda will kill them, too.

Orange oil, bay leaves, and baking soda/sugar mix are all non-toxic to humans and animals, and all cheap. And they all work very well.

Where I live, the only insects I will not kill are the spiders. They hang out under my roof line and eat all the bad flying insects like mosquitoes.

1. Spiders are not insects. In fact, from my experience, a lot of proper insecticides don't do squat to spiders. The toxicity pathways are simply different between insects and spiders, I guess.

2. I actually like ants, unless you're talking about the really nasty ones like army ants or red fire ants. I don't mind them in my house, stealing my food; I just don't want to accidentally kill them. Some people raise them in formicariums (like aquariums, but for ants). I used to have a formicarium when I was in Canada, but have been having trouble trying to start a Carebara affinis or Carebara diversa colony in Hong Kong. Ants, like a lot of other apocrita, are actually quite "hygiene-conscient", almost to the point of OCD. Ants are also pollinators and scavengers that clean up the ground by carrying whatever they can eat into their nests. I have never heard about ants being vectors of human-affecting diseases.

TL;DR: Try not to kill the ants.

Spiders don't stand a chance against orange oil concentrate. It handily kills them right along with every other crawly thing. I won't spray the ones that stay up high, but if you've ever seen a Wolf spider in your house, you'd spray them, too. They can get rather large. If only I could convince my wife to move someplace civil like Vermont or just slightly east of Seattle, like Issaquah or Snohomish. Texas has too many critters. Where I live, the coons will attempt to gain entry into your trash cans, the possums will be under your cars and hiss at you, the snakes are ever present. Just down the street from us, a family killed two water moccasins in their back garden a couple of weeks ago. They also have seen several copperheads. Both are venomous.

I forgot to advocate for the spiders, again, except the really nasty ones. E.g. during damp seasons, I catch and deploy jumping spiders into my daughter’s room as a method of biological control against book lice.

In my opinion, if you have any kind of spider infestation on your property, then you have something else to worry about. Spiders need food to thrive, which usually means insects or other arthropods, which in turn means you have an infestation of other arthropods.

So why are you having a bug infestation in the first place? Are you leaving food crumbs all over the place? Do you have damp places where fungi and moss will grow? Insects and all kinds of critters really like those conditions. If you fix those, your insect and (consequently) spider infestation will most likely be gone.

In the case of mosquitoes, we are the food, so you can’t fix that, but you can clear out bodies of still water, which will decimate the number of mosquito larvae.

Killing them (with insecticides) only fixes the symptoms, not the root of the problem.

I have lived in or just outside of Chicago my entire life, and the worst critter I've encountered are centipedes, which I handle incredibly poorly. I honestly don't think I would manage well with encountering snakes or wolf spiders with any frequency.

I admire your resolve in your combat.

When you mention bay leaves, do you mean laurus nobilis or a different species? Could you specify the Latin name please?

I tried coffee powder at the back door to keep ants out.

I tried egg shells to protect our strawberry plants from beetles and caterpillars.

Neither worked... well, maybe they somewhat worked, who knows?

Your comments are what makes HN super-awesome! Thank you.

Any tips for mosquitoes when you can’t rely on spiders (or geckos) alone?

The best (non-toxic) repellant I've found for mosquitoes is blasting them away with a low to medium powered box or table fan.

I live less than 1000' from the water's edge, so mosquitoes are ever present for about 9 months of the year. I've tried citronella candles when out BBQing, watching my children play in the lawn, etc. I don't like dousing myself in chemicals, so I don't spray myself with deet, etc. They are a nuisance for which there is little to be done other than avoidance.

Deet is benign to humans. Lots of studies on it since it was invented to protect those building the Panama Canal.

You can also build bat houses. Bats feed almost exclusively on mosquitos. They eat more than their own body weight in them.

There is a great story behind this and I dug deep into the research and history dozens of links long but this might inspire you


If you can stand the smell, neem oil is very effective. I use low concentrations in a spray bottle, and spray my windows, they generally don't come in..

Will orange oil and bay leaves also work on ants (or, just baking soda will)?

Orange oil kills ants as well as spiders, etc. Baking soda is only used for ants and roaches, mixed with sugar.

Thanks. I see bay leaves should repel ants too, from your original comment:

> Bay leaves repel about every insect known to man.

Wow. Why is this not more widely known?

Does the sugar not attract ants?

The same mixture of baking soda and sugar also kills the ants.

Headline is misleading because the conclusion is premature. There are other obvious reasons why the roach population may not be decreasing, other than adapting to pesticides:

1. Incomplete treatment -- apartment buildings are large and exterminators likely can't access all interior spaces, providing ample breeding ground.

2. Reinfestation from outside sources -- roaches live in all kinds of tight spaces (e.g. corrugated cardboard boxes), and the number of people in an apartment virtually guarantees cross-contamination.

3. Inadequate amount of pesticides applied.

I'm hesitant to jump to the conclusion that neurotoxins are failing without removing other, much more likely factors.

Becoming harder. I already despise that cracking sound when I step on them, it’s disgusting. If they could make it louder, I would seriously hesitate to kill them.

Getting much faster, flying, or even human-sized?

We could use Tokkay Gekkos to get them. Then the cockroach problem becomes a gekko problem. Then we use a cat and the gekko problem becomes a cat problem.


No, that's the beautiful part. When winter rolls around, the cats simply freeze to death.

Since Skinner recommended gorillas: https://youtu.be/P9yruQM1ggc

... I had to check [0]: at least mountain gorillas can survive temperatures below freezing.

[0] https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/mountain-gorilla

To be followed by a similar article, titled "Cats becoming resistant to most winters"

Is having too many cats a problem though? Looks more like a bonus to me

Yes it is; I think you're thinking about healthy, pet cats. I have a couple, I've also worked with the local cat population control group on the pro-cat side.

Too many cat's is a huge problem. They carry unique diseases, most notably those transmissible to your pet cats. Also, toxoplasmosis gandhi which will kill large mammals in an area, including whales. It also infects humans through under-cooked meat. Cat scratch fever. Cats can also transmit whatever local diseases and parasites other mammals carry, but effectively as they tend to live in large colonies close to humans.

Cats murder your local bird populations, which in my area, includes a number of endangered species. I'm sure in other areas, there might be other endangered creatures cats remove.

And finally, there's the typical nuisances of getting into food stores and trash, dying on motorways, feces accumulation (even before considering diseases), and noise complaints.

Further a large feral cat population creates rabid, cat-hating humans which IMHO is also an issue.

To many cats results in no birds, resulting in more flying insects

I used to live in a slaughterhouse district where the damn things would crawl out of sink, bidet and shower plugs, making every single trip to the bathroom a very anxiety ridden experience. Plus they were of the flying variety, and occasionally, of the albino variety. I personally hate them and I relish on the fact I live somewhere where they're not that prominent, but I do recognize they're as essential as any other insect and a potential food source.

They are all 'of the albino variety' at certain times. A white/albino cockroach is just one that has freshly molted. Shell will harden up and darken in a day or so.

The more you know! I am ashamed to say I barely know anything about them despite them being persistent pests in my life.

I would know much less if I didn't raise roaches as a food source for my reptiles. They have won me over, in part, and I consider them to be pets, though only me and my two year old appreciate them...

Pets? That triggered a memory of the movie Joe's Apartment... https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116707/ https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116707/reviews?ref_=tt_sa_3

I used to have crickets for my bearded dragons and after a while I also took a liking to them. I feel that if you watch almost any animal closely for a while you see interesting traits and behaviors that make them likeable.

> if you watch almost any animal closely for a while you see interesting traits and behaviors that make them likeable.

I used to burn leaves with a magnifying glass in the sun as a kid. Once, I hovered the infernal dot over an ant and watched his abdomen pop. I then observed, in zoomed-in horror, as the poor thing kept trying to feel its missing abdomen and then clean its own juices off its antennae. Other ants would come and inspect the dying ant and their antennae would tap each other's. The fallen ant was then carried back to the hive, and I felt so bad that I spent the afternoon clearing a path for the highway of ants.

To this day, I feel bad killing ants and will try to avoid it, like blowing them off my patio table before scrubbing it. It gets a brow-crinkle from my friends, though.

You have empathy for something mostly despised as a pest. Hackers are thought to have little, but sometimes I suspect we have more, so much more that is really the lack of reciprocation for our empathy others show for us that is the problem.

Honestly cockroaches are way better feeders than crickets. Crickets are so annoying, smelly, and if you don't take the uneaten ones out of your dragon's cage they can blind them!

I don’t have dragons anymore but this is an interesting point. When I had them I only read about mealworms and crickets for feeding them. Nobody talked about cockroaches as an option.

Wonder if Diatomaceous earth still works


Living in Florida, and being married to a wife who considers the presence of cockroaches a dealbreaker for living together, I've managed to keep a roach-free home for several years now without _too_ much effort.

I use this as one part of a multi-pronged approach, dusting around areas they would need to cross to get into the house. It's super-cheap and lasts a long time.

It does need to stay relatively dry, though. When I've needed to repair drywall on occasion, I dust a bunch in the opening figuring it will basically last forever and not get wet.

I also use a bait with boric acid placed in various random areas. I also use a product that slowly emits a vapor in closed areas that basically neuters any roaches that get near it (for places like under the sink). Finally I used Home Defense spray around the outside.

I treat the condo once every three months, and it takes about 30 minutes. I've seen maybe two cockroaches in the past few years, and both were belly-up.

I recall unkillable "soviet" cockroaches that shrugged of all neurotoxins that pest controllers had.

In the Union, things like dichlorvos were used very liberally, even inside living quarters. That eventually led to roached evolving resistance to just every insecticide.

What has lead to their near extinction after the Soviet Union's collapse was rising income levels, and better sanitation.

Sulfur candles, commonly used before DDT, probably still work. They burn sulfur, producing sulfur dioxide, which is the water-free gaseous version of sulfurous acid.

It's cheap. It wipes out mold spores too.

A downside is that stuff like cloth can get bleached. Metals may get discolored.

Well on the plus side the things won't constantly die when we start farming them

Cockroaches are a great source of protein. Cockroach farming is a greener, more sustainable activity. What you eat for dinner tonight was eating someone’s dinner leftovers last night! This is organics capture at its finest.

There's a very strong health consideration that you're overlooking. You don't want random pollutants to be a part of your food intake, and roaches are not picky at all so they are guaranteed to be feeding on (and contain) various contaminations.

This is good for the primary role of roaches, to be the cleanup crew for all sorts of organic matter in nature and helping in the breakdown cycle. But if you were inclined to use them as food, you'd have to maintain a much more controlled (farmed) environment.

By way of comparison, the wild snails you migh eat in France are first fed with a diet of clean lettuce for a week to help purge them of whatever they were munching on in the wild. And they only eat plants to begin with…

I think the commenter addressed this with "farming" - that implies a controlled feed stream.

Correct - this would be just like alligator farming. I never miss the opportunity to savor gator meat whenever I'm in Florida, but obviously this isn't wild caught gator. Who knows what it might have eaten last night? I don't wish to be dining on poor Jim Bob who may have blundered too far into the Everglades after a night on the town...

In fact, the only gator meat that can be sold legally is farmed gator.

Get your Roundup Ready Roach Roe(TM) here!

I can't help but think that AI plus robotics is going to have pest control sewn up in the not too distant future, rendering these chemical brute force attacks largely redundant.

I've wondered about that. Could small crawling robots, perhaps 3-inches long, be built to roam around houses and inside walls and under sinks and so on to seek out and kill cockroaches and other household pests? I doubt anything can develop resistance to being torn apart by a robot. The answer is probably that it could be done now, or fairly soon. Whether it would be economical is another question entirely. But I don't like the idea of spraying chemicals around my house. Robots would be non-toxic.

Perhaps in the future every building will have a fleet of tiny robots roaming around functioning like macrophages. Maybe iRobot could come up with something.

Fairly soon? We're barely getting man-sized robots that can open doors and walk over stairs. You would need thousands of much better robots that can not only walk more difficult terrain but also navigate and search completely autonomously and pursue at a high speed (some cockroaches can even fly) while having enough strength to crush them.

You're probably right, I'm too optimistic.

Perhaps the better model is army ants, or driver ants. I read they will sweep through a village and kill or drive out roaches, spiders, mice, and other vermin. The human inhabitants welcome them. Like all ants and termites, they're individually dumb, but the colony can accomplish a lot. So maybe the answer is thousands of one-inch crawling robots which bite anything that moves.

> I doubt anything can develop resistance to being torn apart by a robot.

True, but resistance is not the only evolutionary adaptation available. For instance, behavioral adaptations might make them more difficult for robots to capture.

Or rather we'd just have to live with the roaches, and the high-tech solutions will be remembered like the personal robotic assistants and flying cars promised in the 60s...

That is assuming AI + robotics does not become the next major pest infestation.

I had a cockroach come in my garage the other day. had some wasp spray nearby and doused it. While I could tell it was probably unhappy, it just kept on moving albeit in a half drunken path. Not sure if it actually died, as it turned around and left but it definitely lived much longer than a wasp does with the same dose.

Perhaps it's time to seriously reconsider our rejection of roaches as a food source. Anything that has the ability to survive well beyond us certainly has the ability to sustain us.

Perhaps their extinction could be engineered genetically, like mosquitoes. Or we could introduce innocuous species that eat them. Cold also kills cockroaches.

All of these have blowback, however.

The hatchet wasp lays eggs in the cockroach egg cases.


I thought they unthaw from any freeze and keep going?

Haven't seen a cockroach in a decade.

Not so hot as they were hyped up to be during the 70's and 80's.


Cockroaches infest all urban areas. If you’re around a dense population of humans, you got them. If you’re in the US south, you got them. If you’re in the hood, you got lots of them. If you’re in an area with lots of transient people, you’re near them.

My dad was a fireman. I recall him describing an apartment fire where they encountered a “moving wall” in a stairwell, a 5ft square cluster of roaches trying to escape the flame. When they ran into situations like that, they removed their gear and rode back in their underwear if necessary.

> Cockroaches infest all urban areas.

Not in all urban areas - they're really not very common in the UK. There's only a couple of smaller species here and they're pretty rare so that people may have never seen one.

Not very common in the UK? You'd be surprised.

Eh, we live in the center of NYC, and we have gotten like three or four in the last year. A well-sealed apartment (copper wool + silicone caulk in all gaps) will keep out cockroaches and rats pretty well.

Why? Did they try to prevent diseases or something?

If you get eggs or roaches on you, they'll spread to the trucks, firehouse and eventually home. They would hose down the gear with a pressure washer.

But do you live in an area with cockroaches? I've never seen one in person in my life but that's because I live somewhere temperate and doesn't mean they're not an issue for many other people.

Hello from Florida!

Yea, in my part of Florida we get the huge palmetto bugs (polite term for American cockroaches) coming inside during the summer. Fortunately, they don't usually infest homes like the German cockroaches. My cats take care of the few that wander inside (and also, the lizards).

My house was roach free.

Then my mother moved in and I had to put her stuff in the garage.

Now I have roaches and I can't seem to get rid of them myself. I need to contact a bug guy. I hope I can be rid of this infestation.

I pay a bug guy to come out and spray around my house quarterly. It helps, especially with the ants. Pretty much a required service in Florida.

You have to hand it to the mighty cockroach. Nature has engineered a remarkable machine.

I read somewhere that "cockroach" is the new term for bootstrapped startups.

(Anonymous smirk)

Yeah,I literally use a blow torch for this.

Meanwhile I struggle to keep my cockroach colony reproducing fast enough to keep up with the demand for them that my other animals have.

Why should humanity 'stop' everything as it sees fit with imperfect knowledge and burgeoning ego? Cockroaches have a valuable role to play in degrading the vast quantities of biological waste we put out. We don't need to stop them.

You must not live with cockroaches if you feel no need to stop them.

Lots of large ones in Australia. Regularly seen them fly to our apartment in Sydney. Hate those things and I don't miss them at all in Europe.

There's two types, though. The big brown bush cockroaches seem clean and pretty smart, and I really don't mind them. The shiny black ones (some with white dots) that infest your white goods? Those are filthy.

The big redish black ones, they are solitary and thank God for that. Luckily, never seen the small ones that infest in swarms.

Where do you live in Europe that doesn't have roaches? I live in Greece and the cities are infested with them during summer.

Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Switzerland. We saw very few when we were living right next to a forest. In a city, it meant you either have bad neighbours (could be a construction site across the street), or your place is filthy :)

Friends at university said they have plenty in dorms, but a visit made it self-explanatory.

I've never seen once in Finland. When I lived in the UK I'd never seen one in the wild either, for that matter.

wait for the global warming to unroll...

I've read yesterday that in some cities you have to inform authorities if you see a cockroach, and that's a law.

Inside the US, they seem to be present in large numbers in the deep south (FL through TX). Are they present in the southwest as well?

Here in DC, we get them, but generally only in homes that aren't kept clean - which can a problem in large apartment buildings, as it only takes one slovenly neighbor or poorly tended garbage area to let a colony grow and become a visible nuisance.

And what about Europe? Probably too cold in most of the continent, but present in Mediterranean regions?

"And what about Europe? Probably too cold in most of the continent, but present in Mediterranean regions?"

As with other areas they live in or near garbage areas, but as far as I can tell not as common as one could think. I don't recall seeing any for example during garbage collecting emergencies. They could be present in homes though, especially old ones where small cracks in concrete or wood can offer a place to hide. That was the case of a 4th floor apartment I lived in over 30 years back where we were never able to find the source of those bastards. That wasn't an invasion, just 2 or 3 a week, so we weren't that pressured to call for someone to eradicate them. The solution came totally unexpected: one day my father brought a cat into that house and from that moment although we keep finding those 2 or 3 cockroaches per week, they were dead. Some time passed by, and one day I found the cat scratching near a baseboard corner; he just found the small crack the roaches used to live in and killed all those coming out of it. We sealed the crack and never saw a cockroach after that. I moved two times since then, and although my father kept that cat, I soon got two, and besides being wonderful companions, they kill anything entering the house uninvited, including bigger nasty mosquitos.

Apparently, apartment blocks in Russia used to have a massive cockroach problem in the 90s, but then they all suddenly completely disappeared in 2000s and never came back. Nobody seems to know why.

A little fun anecdata from the US, I've noticed cockroaches get much bigger the further south you go: Upper Midwest, Michigan, Ohio, the biggest cockroaches get up to about one inch. Central Midwest, southern Kansas/Missouri/Illinois, two inches. Texas and the gulf? Three inches.

That's definitely true. We get the little ones here. The big guys found in the humid/hot south are scary.

Don't think I've ever seen a cockroach in my life living in Europe.

Seems like a U.S exclusive bug.

They are rampart in the Mediterranean area. I don't think I've ever been to a holiday resort there where I didn't see them.

I lived in Italy for two years. At some point I had them in my appartment. It was not too hard to get rid of them using some poison.... Apparently they had come from the appartment next to me or that is what the landlady said....

They are everywhere in Greece

I'm not sure anyone is suggesting we destroy every last living cockroach on the planet. This is more about keeping them out of living/sleeping/food areas. They can carry disease, for one thing. These aren't things you want freely crawling around a restaurant kitchen, for example. It's no different than not wanting your home to become infested with bees, or ants, or anything else that's also very important to our world.

I raise roaches, they are amazing critters! They eat two apples, a banana, an orange, and two cups of dogfood in only five days or so. No skin, peel, stem, or seeds leftover after!

They are kind of fascinating once you get over the creepy factor.

The main problem is that, like rodents, they can be a major health hazard as passive disease carriers. A pet rat is as different from a wild rat as a pet roach is as different from a wild roach.

Very true. I also raise Dubia roaches, which are very different to those common in the western world

How many would eat all that? What about their waste how big would it be?

So I have about three hundred at any given time. As for waste, I don't worry too much, like fish the young eat the feces of the adults. In the last six months or so the 60gallon tubperware they live in has accumulated enough wase to cover the bottom about an inch deep or so

You have 300 roaches in a 60 gallon tub? Are you raising them as food for something else or just for fun? I'm certainly not one of the "eww roaches" people but I have to say I don't see the appeal myself ;)

I have a lot of very hungry reptiles, I rescue unwanted lizards and turtles.

They are disease ridden and a health hazard.

Well good for them.

their bodies must be created resistant to these substances before or for ready or Someone changes their body defense. randomness has no knowledge of chemistry. we, human beings, have difficulty in understanding how it works.

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