2005_04_ask_roach.jpgThis morning as I was getting ready for work I found myself looking into the beady eyes of a humungous cockroach. After some squealing and donning of rubber yellow gloves I managed to kill the roach with a hammer. There must be a better and cleaner way to exterminate roaches. What options do I have? Also, what is an acceptable level of cohabitation with these buggers? Is it realistic to believe that if the right steps were taken my apartment could be 100% roach free? This is the first cockroach I have ever seen during my 8 months in this apartment.

-Scared to sleep

Ask Gothamist has done battle with roaches before. And it is a battle. For a really bad infestation, you truly have to wage an all-out war, but we believe the war can be won. Even if you just see one roach, it's worth it to take preventitive steps - because roaches breed like crazy and can multiply quickly. Your first step should be a thorough cleaning of your apartment. If you've been hoarding bags from the grocery store, get rid of them - that's how a lot of roaches and eggs find their way into your home. Throw out any cardboard boxes too. Make sure that all of your foodstuffs are sealed in airtight containers - especially dried goods like cereal, flour, etc. Examine all open containers and when in doubt, throw it out.

After thoroughly cleaning you'll want to exterminate. According to this article on Cockroach Elimination by an entomologist at the University of Kentucky, "Homeowners attempting to control cockroaches themselves will find insecticidal baits and boric acid effective and relatively easy to use." Baits are a good first step as they are small, have no odor, and are easy to place around the house. Boric acid is extremely effective if used properly - according to the above article, "For best results, the powder should be applied in a very thin layer barely visible to the naked eye. Piles or heavy accumulations will be avoided by foraging cockroaches much as we would avoid walking through a snow drift." You should probably try a combo of bait and boric acid, focusing on the kitchen and bathroom areas. Baits can be placed on the floor up against the wall, in cabinets, under sinks, etc. Boric acid should be lightly poured along cracks where roaches might enter your apartment. Needless to say you don't want to pour the stuff on your counter tops or put it near your food, although it has a low toxicity to humans and pets.

We also suggest you talk to your landlord and see if he or she is willing to send an exterminoator to your apartment on a regular basis - in some apartment buildings, exterminators come around every month and this seems to prevent the cockroach problem. And if and when you do see an actual roach, we don't know of a better way of killing it than to simply squash the little bugger.

Need advice? E-mail ask(at)gothamist(dot)com.