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Old 06-14-2012, 07:59 PM
22,259 posts, read 65,553,443 times
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The repeated requests for this information make me think a sticky is warranted. This is information on controlling insect pests with a MINIMUM of nerve-type insecticides or expensive insect bombs. With the lessening of potency in many insecticides, you will likely find these techniques much cheaper and more effective than other methods or even hiring in a pro for a small problem. FWIW, I have hired and fired many pest control companies in a commercial setting. I know what works.

There are various types of roaches. The biggies are also known as Palmetto bugs or American roaches, and don't usually do well inside. Finding one or two of those is not a big deal.

However, if you have seen a couple of medium size ones or more, you could have the start of a German roach problem. That can get out of hand fast.

I have taken movie theatres from roach infested places where if you turn on the lights the floor moves, to roach and rodent free within a couple weeks. The process is fairly simple. Go to a Big Box Builder's Store and buy a quart of boric acid powder for about $10. Also, get one can of a pyrethrum type aerosol spray (look at the precentages of pyrethrum and get a reasonably high percentage spray). Bengal makes a large can of the spray that is red in color. It will last for years.

Boric acid and borax are not particularly toxic to humans or pets, especially compared to the nerve chemicals used in some insecticides. Boron and the metabolism of insects are incompatible, so some people use borax or other boron based powders, but boric acid is cheap and works well. A bottle can last twenty years or more if you use it properly in a single house. It also decimates fleas if you brush the powder into carpets. Boric acid and Borax are NOT Diatomaceous earth, which is a different product made from tiny fossilized water plants. Diatomaceous earth, or DE works only by cutting the exoskeletons of insects. It isn't as effective if it gets wet, while boron compounds will continue to work.

To get started, snip the top 1/2 inch off the tip of the boric acid container nozzle. Outside, and with the bottle upright, give it a shake and then squeeze the sides hard. You should see a light cloud of fine powder. Once you have mastered the technique and made the tip opening the size that works best for you, and can create a dust cloud without having it throw out clots of the powder, come on inside.

Roaches like heat, and they like moisture, and they like fetid material. If you use the boric acid around those places, you will halt just about any infestation. The very first spots to treat are the water heater, under the sinks, and any warm spots (usually from electricity). The socket behind a night light could have roaches. Unscrew the plate and gently dust a little of the boric acid into the socket. You don't have to use much at all, just the lightest of dustings. Computers often harbor roaches. TV sets sometimes have them (DO NOT take the back cover off a CRT computer monitor or tv, the high voltages can kill you). In cases like that, puff the boric acid on the surface the component rests on and don't dust the area for a week. Do your own search for warm or wet places and apply the powder on or near those areas.

If you see an area with a lot of black dots of frass (roach poo), that is a hot spot. Use both a heavy application of the boric acid and some pyrethrum spray there. If there are crevices, be prepared to see some roaches try to run to escape.

Be warned that pyrethrum sprays dissipate over time and ARE DEADLY TO CATS. (Some of the sprays are made from the active ingredient in marigolds, but they are still toxic to cats.) Pyrethrum disorients roaches and causes them to scurry about. That is the reason that exterminators sometimes seem to have made a roach problem worse when they first leave.

The combination of surfaces covered in borax and sprays of pyrethrum works well because the roaches inevitably pick up the boron in their scurrying about.

FWIW, Organic vegetables are a fantastic source of roaches. I recently was in a high-end market watching three roaches cavort over the carrots. Anything you bring in from a food store and ESPECIALLY a health food or natural food store is suspect. If the packaging has nooks and crannies, beware. washing vegetables immediately can flush out some buggies. A rule of thumb is to always freeze any grains, grits, or bulk items for at least three days to kill pest eggs.

If you live in an apartment, you have to be especially mindful of the holes where plumbing enters or exits (those trim plates merely hide larger holes - you want to caulk those to seal them), wall sockets and switches (remove the plates and dust with boric acid) and door sweeps and joints (weatherstrip and lay a barrier of spray). Keep all edible food and pet food in sealed containers. Pasta, cereals, cookies, and crackers go out of original boxes and into sealed containers upon arrival at your place if you want to minimize roach problems.

99% of all roach infestations can be cleared on a do-it-yourself basis with a good cleaning to remove frass and eggs, then proper application of boric acid and pyrethrum. The use of the more highly toxic chemicals is just not required.


Vacuum any carpets and floors thoroughly. After that, spread boric acid dust around by puffing it out of the container into the room, leave until it settles, then come back into the room and use a stiff broom to broom it into carpets. Do not vacuum it out for a week. after a week, vacuum and re-apply for another week. Any that gets left in corners or under furniture is a good thing. Also, look in the Big Box Home Stores for an insecticide that contains a pre-emergent to prevent proper hatching. Use that according to directions.

The following is fun and rewarding if you have an infestation: Get a low wattage incandescent lamp and arrange it so the the light is about six inches over a broiler pan of water and a few drops of detergent. Make sure the house is unheated and leave the lamp going over a few nights. If you can air condition the place to make it colder, even better. The fleas will seek the warmth of the light, miss and fall into the pan of water. The detergent lowers the surface tension so they can't jump out. If there are fleas, and you have this in the same room as them, I can guarantee that you will find dead fleas in that water. If the place is infested, you will find LOTS of dead adult fleas.

When using flea control products on pets - DO NOT MIX the products for cats and the ones for dogs. They can be different and toxic to the wrong animal. Outdoor/indoor pets will bring fleas into the home.

Here is what happens in this type of flea control:
The flea trap attracts almost all of the adult fleas in the immediate area. The colder the room, the better the results. Once those adults are killed, the eggs are no longer being laid.

The boric acid dust in the carpet kills the emerging adults (who can survive in the cocoon for months) before they get a chance to become fecund.

The pre-emergent spray (IGR) mutilates and stops the growth of any eggs that get laid after it is applied.

Cat fleas need cat blood to survive. They will feed on humans, but it doesn't really work for them. They self-extinguish over time if there are no cats. Life might be miserable for a while though.

The key to the whole thing is to do all the heavy vacuuming and rug shampooing BEFORE laying down the Boric Acid and IGR, and then brushing the boric acid down into the nap of the carpet. Excessive cleaning after that should be followed with a re-application.


If your property has ticks, it also has host animals for the ticks. Those hosts could be mice, rats, rabbits, deer, snakes!, dogs and cats, squirrels, and many other critters. If you get rid of the host animals, the tick population will drop sharply. Ticks need the blood.

Ticks PREFER (but are not limited to) areas with tall grasses or weeds. They climb a weed during the daylight hours and wait for a passing host to jump onto. If you wonder why people in the country have HUGE lawns that are mown regularly, now you know why. A mown lawn discourages rodents, and in so doing discourages ticks and fleas.

Guineas and other poultry will eat ticks and other bugs. Be aware that guineas are noisy, and some fowl are territorial.

Ticks come in various sizes. Downed wood in a forest or in the brush may have "seed ticks" which are tiny and time consuming to remove. If you are in an area with ticks, when you get home strip and have your spouse do a tick check on you. Ticks commonly will try to sneak up the back of your neck into your hair, but they may latch on in the pubic area and other areas of the body that you cannot easily see.

NEVER remove a tick with a match or chemical to make it "back out". If this is done, the tick gets sick and VOMITS into your blood. Lyme disease is common in ticks and having one vomit into you is a fantastic way to make yourself ill for years. Use tweezers and slowly apply constant pulling pressure until the tick releases. Then crush the tick or drop it into a bottle of rubbing alcohol.

Chiggers are NOT insects. They are a member of the spider family. If possible, avoid them. If you will be going into a chigger infested area, sulfur dust (a garden center product) on your pants and shoes will discourage some but not all. Once you leave that area and get home - remove you clothes outside or in your entrance and place them outside for shaking out or until they are washed in hot water. TAKE A SHOWER. Most chigger bites occur AFTER twenty minutes or more. You want as few of the bites as possible - why?...

Chigger bites itch like mad, and can continue to itch for a couple of weeks. They can leave nice red areas with what looks like it might be a chigger or chigger part in the center. It ISN'T a chigger, but a reaction from your body around the bite hole. YOU CANNOT DIG OUT A CHIGGER BECAUSE IT ISN'T IN THERE.

Temporary relief can be had with over-the-counter drugstore remedies, or Listerine on the area, or other home-brew remedies. Many times they don't work real well.

Spiders generally feed on other insects. Clean up the insect problem and the spider problem will drastically diminish. Since spiders are not insects, many insecticides don't work on them. Ask for help in choosing a spray for spiders. I have found by trial and error that they don't care for areas that have been cleaned with a bleach solution. If you have used any of the boric acid fixes above, your spider problems will be minimal.

With spiders, your best defense is to use gloves when rummaging in storage boxes or working outside. I see Black Widows hide outside, while Recluses are more common in sheds and storage areas. If I know I've been bitten by either of these, I quickly open the wound. I know it isn't always a good thing to do, but I had one bite where I followed traditional advice and ended up with a divot taken out of my arm as the venom and bacteria worked. I'd rather just get rid of a little blood and skin first and apply antiseptic.

Bedbugs simply cannot be stopped with insecticides commonly available to consumers. Back in the 1970s, I had an infestation and it was the hardest bug problem I have ever experienced. I literally had to strip out the entire bedroom, remove baseboards, take the bed completely apart, and use a garden sprayer to spray a mix of malathion and kerosene into every crevice and even into the frame of the bed and welting of the mattress. All bedding and clothes had to be boiled.

You can often tell a bedbug problem by a sicky sweet odor, and a disruption of your sleeping patterns, where you will want to sleep late.

Heat is a problem for bedbugs - using a household steamer in cracks and crevices might help, but unless you are willing to go all out, they may remain - even if a professional is called in.

This thread also needs sections for dealing with mice, rats, and other rodents, as well as fire ants, sugar ants, crazy ants, termites, mosquitoes, and silverfish. Please keep the thread on topic and information you add accurate and concise.
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Old 06-14-2012, 08:13 PM
Location: Nantahala National Forest, NC
27,078 posts, read 10,170,486 times
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Well Harry Chickpea...

THANK YOU for your time & info-the most helpful thread ever!!

I saved this to my Favorites...
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Old 06-14-2012, 11:11 PM
Location: Texas
5,721 posts, read 17,475,305 times
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Yeah Harry, probably the best thread in this forum right there. I've used Bengal now for about 20 years and while not a cheap date, it works better than anything else you can buy. I don't and won't have bugs in the house.
I had Brown Recluse spiders taking over my full 2 car garage about 2 years ago. The normal and professional treatments were only a band aid at best. I picked up a bottle of boric acid at a feed store and brought it home. I put some on a piece of paper and then with my compressor, turned it into a fog in the garage blowing into corners, behind tool boxes, and just typical garage junk. I was wearing an air filter at the time. Closed up the garage and haven't had a bug in there since. Seems like it was about a quart size bottle and I still have most of it.
All excellent tips. Thanks!
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Old 06-14-2012, 11:36 PM
Location: Cushing OK
14,545 posts, read 20,298,184 times
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Thanks for the imformation. What helps on uneven wood floors? Mine need sanding and sealing but other things are far far more important so it will be quite a while. I am using the spray with growth retardant for the fleas, but its only slowly making a dent. Outside there are still tons of them (not cold enought to kill them off last winter) and they keep being resupplied by people coming in and out.

Glad to know that pyrethrians are deadly to cats. None will be used in my house. I just lost one of my small ones who could have gotten into a spot where there was a trap. Not taking any chances. I have read that with boric acid you must wear breathing protection. I have to DE the animals in the laundry room since with the normal fans going it spews it everywhere otherwise.

With flea treatments with your pets, call a vet in your area and ask what is working before buying. None of the local vets here reccoment Frontilne right now, since its ineffective, but Advantage works. No use wasting money on something which doesn't work.
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Old 07-09-2012, 07:03 PM
Location: Lexington, SC
4,281 posts, read 12,161,506 times
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I have a higher bug tolerance then my wife does thus we pay a professional service so I do not have to listen to her. She complains, I say call the bug man.....LOL
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Old 08-07-2012, 08:08 PM
29,984 posts, read 41,464,666 times
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For spider control I've used these with great success in closets and behind furniture in living areas along the walls.

Glue spider traps: Spider traps: Effective Sticky Spider Glue Traps
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Old 08-10-2012, 07:37 PM
4,246 posts, read 11,586,315 times
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What if I have tile and no carpet for fleas? Still put the boric acid powder on the floor? I bought some flea traps but after 24hrs I have only 1 or 2. I have 3 dogs and can usually find one on them without looking hard. I've pretty much tried everything (sprays, pills, shampoos, dips, etc) except vacuuming since I have no carpet. Guess I should go get one and see if that helps.
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Old 08-11-2012, 07:24 AM
Location: Coastal Georgia
46,365 posts, read 57,779,663 times
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Very timely post. Until yesterday, after two years in the south, I had seen a few dead palmetto bugs in my house, usually in the bathrooms. Yesterday, I saw one large roach and one small roach in my kitchen. I started screaming for DH, and they vanished into a crevice. Now I am in full panic mode.
I set out roach traps.
DH says I shouldn't get all bent out of shape over two roaches, but I totally disagree.
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Old 08-11-2012, 12:13 PM
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What is DH?
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Old 08-11-2012, 11:34 PM
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Damp old cinderblock basement. I get spiders. Got any ideas? It is not so it can be well dried, so it is not finished. I don't mind daddy long legs , but I get the traditional house spiders - annoying. Some like the sump pump area -- any bugs? They go right where it is damp: sump pump. I have a rural setting, so the concept of bleaching the basement is not a good one. For the record, no mold but we do get silt coming thru the cinderblock at floor level. ( had it tested) -- our clay drain pipe (if we have any) outside is long since full of silt I expect. (Old home)
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