Sunday, September 22, 2013

How to (Really) Kill Cockroaches. Period.

Becoming an expert in pest control was not on my list of life aspirations.  Funny how things work.  Turns out, when you unknowingly buy a boat with an infestation, you have no choice but to rise to the occasion.

Our battle has been well documented on this blog.  We've been at this game for a good, long while (the saga begins here).  So while I might not have any formal training, I do consider myself a bit of an expert on this little issue.  So when I recently saw a thread on a sailing forum where someone asked about how to kill the cockroaches that were overrunning her boat, I had to chuckle at some of the responses:

"We've found the roach traps worked for us!"
"Sprinkle a little borax here and there, and they'll be gone."
"Direct contact with roach killing spray works best!"
"Boric acid tablets work!"
"Foggers will do the trick."

What these people had was not a cockroach infestation, because we tried ALL of these things (and more) and none of them worked.  They might have slowed their progress slightly, but completely eradicate they did not.  In case you are wondering, you know you have a bonafide problem when you become so utterly desensitized to roaches that any of the following scenarios occur:
  • You are on the computer, a roach climbs up your leg, you kill it immediately, wash your hands and resume typing - without uttering a sound so as not to wake your sleeping spouse.
  • You are preparing a meal and see a roach walk across the counter.  With your finely-tuned cat-like reflexes you squish it flat, grab a napkin, squish it some more (cockroaches can be half-squished and still get away...true story), wash your hands and resume cooking.  No big deal.
  • You are on the phone with your best friend, see a roach strolling leisurely across a surface and exclaim, "Ugh...is that a cockroach?  Dammit.  I gotta go.  Love you, bye!"
  • You are sleeping in bed when you suddenly feel something crawling on the small of your back. Having been crawled on before, you know immediately what it is and roll over to trap and stun in, at which point you flip over with the speed and precision of Jackie Chan, killing it dead with a lightning fast slap of your hand.  You throw it in the toilet and go back to sleep.  Again, you do not make a peep so as not to wake your sleeping spouse.
If any of the above occur - you have a legitimate problem and you need to deal with it STAT.  Becoming desensitized to roaches is not cool, though I am probably well-equipped to deal with a stint on "Fear Factor" should the producers feel like calling.

To be fair, not all roaches are created equal and some are easier to eradicate than others so perhaps the methods listed above work on the weaker varieties, but we have no experience with those.  The roaches we had were of the German persuasion, touted by pest control professionals as being the hardest to kill, an accusation that we agree with 100%.  These little bastards mean business, and they are survivors.

So how did we do it?  Well, after trying sprays, pills, home-made concoctions, foggers, powders, traps and every other toxic-to-roach thing under the sun, we finally waved the white flag and called in the big guns.  In St. Maarten, we paid a professional pest controller who, over the course of two days (the first day he got seasick and had to get back to land before hurling) went through our entire boat strategically placing tiny beads of cockroach killing gel in every single nook and cranny.  He told us - nay - promised us that our problem would soon be over.  I was skeptical.

Within 48 hours, dying roaches were - quite literally - coming out of the woodwork.  With each disoriented and twitching roach Scott and I would rejoice.  "It's working!" we exclaimed with beaming smiles while watching our unwelcome stowaways suffer.  Each day we saw fewer and fewer.  Two weeks later, they were gone.  To be safe - we bought some spare tubes of gel to apply sporadically in the coming weeks to get rid of any stragglers (dealing with a roach infestation rarely is done in one fell swoop, it usually takes several attempts to kill any left-over eggs).  We reapplied two more times over the course of two months and never saw a cockroach again.  The real test, of course, was leaving our boat for three weeks.  Twenty-plus days is ample time for roaches to repopulate and when we returned to a roach-free boat, we finally felt confident enough to declare victory.  It was a big moment for us and particularly for this boat, which has not been completely roach-free since the day we took possession of her.

So what finally did the trick? Dupont Advion Cockroach Gel Bait was what did it for us.  The application of the stuff is time-consuming, but easy.  It comes in convenient application syringes and are non-toxic to those not of the roach persuasion.  Just think like a roach and get to work.  Here is how it's done:
  • Put tiny beads (less than the size of a pea - this is important! You will be inclined to place it in much larger amounts - don't) in every single conceivable roach-roaming place.
  • Make sure to place the gel every two feet at the very least. 
  • Places to remember: 
    • Corners (of cupboards, lockers, drawers...etc)
    • Behind hinges (even those on the refrigerator)
    • Under floorboards
    • On the pull-out rails of every drawer
    • In small cracks and crevices
    • Near water sources
    • Under the sink
    • Around electrical outlets
    • In lazarettes, in engine room
  • Be prepared to re-apply every couple weeks for the next month or two in order to kill any new egg cycles that hadn't hatched previously. We bought four spare tubes and will probably continue to use them until they are gone, just to be safe.
  • Make sure the product you use is recent and not out of date (bait will go 'bad' after a year).
After 24 hours you will start seeing them dying in droves - and by a week you will see none.  It works.  Take it from us, we're experts (and if you don't believe me, just check the Amazon reviews).  And this post, by the way, was a total PLEASURE to write...it has been a long time coming.  Live long and prosper my friends...cockroach free.

7 comments:

Suburbs to Sailing said...

Yay! You must be SO relieved! See... things are looking up!

Tricia said...

Having grown up in Florida, I have many memories of roaches! Ick! Professional Pest Control is a must there! We live in Ohio now, so not a problem anymore. So glad it worked for you!

Tricia @ www.roadtriptheworld.com

Amy Schaefer said...

Man. I wonder if I can find that stuff in New Caledonia? We are pretty much winning the game, but I would love to have a 100% roach-free boat.

Nikki said...

I am so excited for you that the roaches are finally gone! I can't imagine having to live with them for so long.

Kathy said...

This reminds me of a book I read long ago called
"Pest Control" by Bill Fitzhugh. It may be out of print now but hopefully you can find a copy. Its a story about a man in the pest control business who wants to find an environmentally friendly way to eliminate "pests". His advertising leads some to believe that he is a hit man for hire. The result makes for a comical, offbeat read. You might enjoy it.

Julie McCormick said...

Just came to this page from WWS. Thank you! I am going to order this once stateside, just in case. In the meantime, I've seem two Palmetto bugs (I can't even call them roaches - it makes it more bearable!). One I killed and thought it had been brought aboard by a friend who had just arrived from FL. But then a month later I saw another (actually this same friend has just arrived again, but I can't imagine he is lugging palmetto bugs with him!). That is it - just two. And only saw the only alive one once thus far. But I want to nip it is in the bud before this is an issue. Sorry for my rambling, but would this work for this huge roaches as well? And, if I can't get this in the Grenadines, what might you suggest? THANK YOU!
Julie

Trevor Tutt said...

For days, I have seen cockroaches roaming in our kitchen and spraying them is not enough. Having pests around was really disgusting! So I had to immediately call the help of pest control professionals to take care of my problem. Good thing what they did worked!

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