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Eradicating bed bugs and roaches in residences

Old 12-09-17, 02:52 PM
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Eradicating bed bugs and roaches in residences

I'm reposting this from a reply I posted to a general forum thread, since it's more of a digression than relevant to the original topic there. There's a lot of misinformation, cargo cult thinking and voodoo in pop culture reports about dealing with bed bugs.

Anyone who's live in an apartment complex has eventually had to deal with pests. It's tougher in the apartment building style common to the east and north -- all apartment doors facing inner common hallways. Pests use those common hallways, including between walls, inside drop ceilings, etc., to migrate around the entire building. Our apartment here in Texas is built that way, unusual for the south, but it's more energy efficient. We have an all-bills-paid apartment for elderly and disabled seniors, so I'm not complaining. It's just a different type of challenge for pest control.

While I've never been a professional pest control operator my background did involve preventive medicine -- which includes pest control -- as a Navy corpsman assigned to the Marines, and my ex in-laws were professional pest control operators. I worked for my ex FIL a couple of summers and picked up a few tips and tricks. And I read various industry journals once in awhile just to see what the current methods are.

Our apartment complex was infested with bed bugs a few years ago. Fortunately my apartment was relatively free of the critters -- I found maybe one or two a year -- but it demanded constant vigilance. Some of my more disabled and immobile neighbors were badly infested, with thousand of the critters, and I helped a couple of them with eradication when the professional treatments failed.

There's a lot of misinformation and cargo cult thinking in approaches to bed bug treatments. For example, "people heard" that diatomaceous earth was effective (it was but is outdated and far surpassed by other treatments). But instead of applying it properly, they'd broadcast the stuff in piles around their apartments and build tiny dams of the stuff in the hallways. It doesn't work that way. It needs to be a fine, thin, almost invisible dusting.

Other neighbors would see piles of white powder outside apartments. Not knowing any better, they'd pour piles of talcum powder, corn starch or any white powder outside their doors. Completely ineffective, of course.

That's cargo cult thinking.

Another example was spread by rumor. "Someone heard" that bed bugs are attracted to feed on humans by our CO2. Sort of true, but it's more complicated than that -- bed bugs zero in on our complex exhalations, body heat, etc. They're not particularly attracted to CO2 unless there's a human body attached.

So neighbors would build homemade CO2 traps using yeast, etc., because they couldn't afford the commercially made CO2 traps. This didn't work. It mainly attracts fruit flies and other critters. The pros tried using CO2 traps just to check for the presence of bed bugs, not to kill them. Just setting a homebrewed yeast CO2 trap in a bowl of water or on top of sticky paper won't lure the bed bugs to their deaths by the hundreds. It just doesn't work. That's more cargo cult thinking.

Best way to check for bed bugs? Examine your bed and surroundings closely. If you have conventional box springs, that's where the bed bugs will be hiding. Get rid of those and get a solid memory foam or other type mattress. Get rid of the places for bed bugs to hide. We use Brentwood Home memory foam mattresses on metal platforms, but you can get as fancy as you like. Just minimize the hidey holes.

Check everywhere near the bed: baseboards; behind dressers and between drawers; even behind artwork hung on the walls. The critters will nest as near as possible to the food -- you.

Next most common hidey holes will be favorite upholstered furniture -- recliners and sofas.

You won't often see bed bugs lurking around bathrooms, kitchens, closets that aren't in bedrooms, etc. An exception might be a storage closet where you keep your luggage between trips. Because that's a common way for bed bugs to hitchhike around the world -- on luggage. But they won't proliferate without a food source -- your blood.

Bed bugs
Bed bugs are unpleasant and difficult to get rid of. Just the thought of bloodsucking freaks puts off most people. And they smell bad, like stink bugs. The babies are almost invisible and the adults are almost paper thin before gorging, so they can sneak through the tiniest cracks. They can hitchhike everywhere unseen, which is why they bed bug population has exploded worldwide. And they're indifferent to hygiene and housekeeping practices. Bed bugs don't care how clean we are. They just want blood.

But believe it or not, roaches are worse in almost every way. Almost as resistant to surface applications of pesticides. They smell even worse to me, and I'm allergic to them. Roaches can carry disease, typically e-coli, salmonella, staph, pretty much anything that can be tracked around through contaminated areas.

Funny thing about bed bugs -- despite gorging on blood, they aren't known to transmit bloodborne pathogens. It isn't clear why. If they did transmit bloodborne diseases the entire global population would be in serious trouble -- they're more prolific than mosquitoes across a broader temperature range.

Living in an apartment complex, especially one built in the typical urban east coast and northern style, with doors facing long continuous common hallways, it's tough to stay bug-free for long.

The most effective treatment for bed bugs is amorphous silica gel, like Cimexa. It's just a desiccant, the same stuff in those little packets of beads in vitamins, electronics and other consumer products. It's milled to a fine powder like powdered sugar. It adheres to the waxy exoskeleton of bed bugs and dries them out within 72 hours. Virtually benign to humans and animals. Not even particularly effective on other insects unless the silica gel powder can stick to their exoskeletons. But for now nothing better exists to control bed bugs.

And Cimexa and other brands of amorphous silica gel powder is fairly easy and safe to apply -- a hand squeeze puffer. All it takes is a light dusting along baseboards, between hollow wall, floor and ceiling spaces, and seams under and behind upholstered furniture and beds.

With fabrics that can't be safely laundered or exposed to heat, apply the silica gel powder, let it work for a week or so, then brush and vacuum the excess.

Another effective method for delicate fabrics, electronics, etc., is dry ice. As it converts to carbon dioxide in an enclosed space it displaces oxygen and asphyxiates the bed bugs. A one or two pound block of dry ice in a large yard sized lawn/leaf bag, or a large trash can, tightly sealed, will treat everything that can be stuffed inside -- computers, TVs, appliances, delicate clothing and fabrics, artwork (because bed bugs will hide behind anything hanging on the wall in bedrooms), etc. There's a research paper on the NCBI/NIH site supporting this.

And, as I mentioned earlier, steam heat for stuff that can withstand that treatment. Labor intensive but very effective.

Skip the whole-building heat treatment. Incredibly expensive and has no residual effect. Unless combined with Cimexa the whole building heat treatment tends to herd the bed bugs to the coolest part of the structure, where they regroup and re-infest rapidly. Careful use of Cimexa will accomplish the same thing, more cost effectively, but will take a little longer - up to a month for a large multi-family residential building, dormitory, barracks, shelter, etc. But a significant impact will occur within 72 hours.

For bed bugs, don't waste time or money on pesticides, alcohol sprays, "CO2 traps" (professionally made or homemade), or substitute powders like diatomaceous earth or boric acid, or talcum powder, laundry softener sheets or any other hocus pocus or voodoo. They don't work.

Summary:
  • Cimexa dust or other brand amorphous silica gel. Use only the minimal application, a fine dusting where bed bugs nest or travel. Near beds. Baseboards. Between walls, in drop ceilings, etc. Don't waste time and money broadcasting the stuff in the middle of a floor, or piled up in tiny mounds outside doors. Read and heed the instructions. The manufacturers know what they're talking about.
  • Steam heat from a clothing wand or a larger portable device that you can rent. For items that can withstand steam heat -- most upholstered furniture, bedding, baseboards (especially carpeted), etc.
  • Dry ice for the CO2 for delicate items -- computers and electronics, fine fabrics, etc. Must be in confined space -- a sealed large plastic bag, sealed trash can, etc. To be safe, keep these outside the home -- in a garage, storage shed, etc. CO2 can displace oxygen, but a huge amount of dry ice would be needed to be dangerous. Mostly it's a respiratory irritant to sensitive people. Even stage fog from dry ice makes me cough like crazy.

Roaches
Roaches are less sensitive to heat, and I can't see that the amorphous silica gel affects them at all. It doesn't adhere to their exoskeletons to cause dehydration.

However boric acid is very effective on roaches. And like Cimexa, it's relatively benign and safe around people and pets. The trick is getting the insects to walk through it or, better still, eat it. The trick? Mix boric acid with powdered sugar. They can't resist. Works on ants too. And it works for weeks or months. Powdered sugar includes an anti-caking ingredient, so it resists getting gooey on most surfaces. And it cleans up fairly easily, so it can be puffed liberally around kitchens and bathrooms, then the excess can be swept and mopped up after a few days.

And some baits and gels work very well. I've tried both the gels (they look like peanut butter in syringes) and, frankly, the commercially made bait traps work better. The gels from syringes dry too quickly, don't really attract adult cockroaches effectively, and needs to be reapplied more often. It's labor intensive.

But the same gels are mixed with food bait, safely tucked inside plastic housings. The type designed specifically for German cockroaches is made with smaller openings to exclude larger cockroaches and other bugs. These usually work within a week. Replace them every month or so until the infestation is gone. Seems more expensive than the gel syringes, but works better.

I've made my own baits mixing gel with dry cat foot -- roaches love cat food -- but, again, it's labor intensive and the ready made bait traps work well with much less effort.

The gels and baits work in an odd way. The kill on adult cockroaches is delayed a few days. This gives them time to revisit their nests and poop. Baby cockroaches eat the now-poisoned poop. Everybody dies.

Skip the pesticide sprays. Research shows it defeats the purpose of using boric acid and gel/baits. The roaches will avoid the surface pesticides, so they don't take the bait. It's like setting a trap for humans and labeling it "WATCH OUT!! TRAP!!!"

More info than you wanted to know, hmm? But useful for folks who live in apartment complexes, especially in urban areas.

Summary:
  • Boric acid (works best mixed with powdered sugar).
  • Commercially made bait traps containing indoxacarb or fipronil.
  • Or syringes of gel based indoxacarb or fipronil -- I've found these work best applied sparingly to dry cat food!

And while bed bugs are indifferent to housekeeping, roaches aren't. Ants and roaches are most attracted to open food, crumbs, etc.

And skip the pesticide sprays. They're expensive and don't work. Bed bugs are almost completely immune. Roaches are highly resistant, and gaining in resistance with every generation.

If you want to spray 'em because it makes you feel better to watch the bastards die, try Clorox foaming bleach spray. It traps the roaches and they die quickly in the small pile of foaming bleach and surfactants. And it'll disinfect whatever germs the roaches are carrying, so cleanup is more effective.

Last edited by canklecat; 12-09-17 at 02:57 PM.
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Old 12-09-17, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Roaches

However boric acid is very effective on roaches.
Decades ago I lived in an apartment with an insane amount of roaches. Bombs and poisons would kill many, but without seeming to make a dent in the continuing population. I finally tried boric acid and the results were amazing. Kept the place roach free for the two years I lived there.
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Old 12-09-17, 03:08 PM
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Burn the place to the ground... the only effective way to eliminate all those nasties.
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Old 12-09-17, 03:39 PM
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We get palmetto bugs, the BIG roaches due to the wooded area and leaves around the house. We spray for them, so we find the carcasses of "dead Fred" all over. Not really much to do about those. The little German Cockroach is a real issue. They commonly come in on your groceries.
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Old 12-09-17, 04:10 PM
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Y'all got big assed roaches in Tejas. This I can attest to


When you bomb roaches in an apartment they just move back in from other apartments and I can see how they would become immune to the usual remedies that way. I do know that bleach silences crickets when you pour it into spaces between concrete slabs and it seems to work on ant beds.

One more thing:

Roaches love beer and open beer cans.

For that matter they like any perishable just thrown into a trash sack. Put perishable trash in a jar with a lid on it and throw it away when it's full.

Last edited by Zinger; 12-09-17 at 05:04 PM.
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Old 12-10-17, 03:40 AM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Burn the place to the ground... the only effective way to eliminate all those nasties.
Nuke it from space!!!
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Old 12-10-17, 03:51 AM
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Old 12-10-17, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Burn the place to the ground... the only effective way to eliminate all those nasties.
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cincinn...-kill-bedbugs/
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Old 12-10-17, 12:28 PM
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Perfect examples of the danger of the internet rumor mill. Using alcohol and DIY whole house heat treatment.

Our building tried the whole building heat treatment twice in one year. Incredibly expensive and ineffective. My apartment temperature never got above 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Not nearly hot enough to do more than annoy the bugs.

Other neighbors tried to just crank up their central heat. It reached maybe 85F.

Some of my neighbors refused to cooperate with proven, sound methods. Instead they poisoned themselves with insecticides and diatomaceous earth. One elderly disabled neighbor developed pneumonia from this self treatment and died. The diatomaceous earth is a strong respiratory irritant, and he used the cheaper stuff intended only for outdoor agricultural use.
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Old 12-11-17, 02:17 PM
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OP, thx for this. We're battling roaches in our kitchen (small, slim ones, I think German). We tried all kinds of things, store-bought-foggers, Advion, Lowes-bought spray, all had approximately ZERO effect.

Will give the Borax + powdered sugar a try, nothing to lose at this point.
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Old 12-11-17, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
OP, thx for this. We're battling roaches in our kitchen (small, slim ones, I think German). We tried all kinds of things, store-bought-foggers, Advion, Lowes-bought spray, all had approximately ZERO effect.

Will give the Borax + powdered sugar a try, nothing to lose at this point.
Let me know if the borax and powdered sugar works as well for you as it has for us. Remove outlet and switch plates and dust the hollow spaces between walls too. Give it a week or so to see significant effects. It's slow acting but has long term residual effect. Between walls it'll be good for many years. On floors, reapply maybe once a month or so to replace what's vacuumed up, swept and mopped up, etc. But you won't need to reapply it more often than once a month in most places.

If they're really aggressive and getting onto the counter tops, etc., then apply overnight and reapply after daily cleanups. In those places, sure, you'll need to reapply the borax/powdered sugar more often.

Also, try those ready made bait traps made specifically for German cockroaches -- the smaller, skinny tan bastards. Those work really well too. Toss 'em under the fridge, oven, mostly the bottom cabinets -- especially near any opening between pipes and walls. The bait traps will show much faster results, usually about three days.

If your results are like ours it'll drastically reduce them for 2-3 months in a typical apartment or multi-family building (including condos, duplexes, etc.). In a detached home the effects may last longer.

Reminds me, I got some expanding foam to squirt into those crooks and nannies between the plumbing and walls. That's one of the ways critters get inside. And today I heard rodents scrambling around the drop ceiling in the apartment building's hallway. So I want to keep those critters out as well until the maintenance crew solve the problem.
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Old 12-11-17, 05:44 PM
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thx. ours are pretty aggressive, if we sneak into the kitchen in the middle of the night and turn on the lights, we'll find maybe a couple dozen around the counters and stove and sink.

In the outlets is a good tip, we'll do that! Fortunately (?) we also have an ugly hole in the ceiling inside one of our cabinets, so we can reach inner wallspace from above that way, we can puff a ton of powder in there!

We still have lots of Advion from that failed experiment, would we be able to mix that with some food (powdered sugar?) to make it more attractive (even though no bait stations)? We don't have a cat, but I guess we could buy a little dry cat food.

Any specific bait traps you've had success with?
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Old 12-11-17, 06:27 PM
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Back when I was doing a remodel, and most of the walls were open and not exactly walls, I dumped a bunch of that boric acid inside what would eventually be the kitchen and adjacent room walls.

As the kitchen cabinets were installed, before the granite countertops went on, again, more boric acid behind the cabinets between the cabs and walls.

Never had a roach problem in that house.

Now ants were another issue... and yeah, they came right though the light switches and wall plates... always seeking water. weird. They actually got into my GFCI unit for the hot tub (20 feet from the tub itself) and managed to build a "bridge" that shorted out the GFCI circuitry. I replaced the breaker, but could not believe the fried ants in the old one. Go figure.
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Old 12-11-17, 08:16 PM
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I have an ant path from my garage side door, across the garage thru the laundry room, across the living room into the dining room, then kitchen and out the back door. They have no interest in any side trips, just a 3" wide path they follow to get them from front to back yard. I've temporarily for 2-3 days stopped it with blockages and wiping off track with oils.

I just had a new back door installed with perfect seals. It confused the ants and now they go to the new door, turn around and go 6' over to the side sliding door to get out.

In some ways they don't bother me since they stay on the floor in a narrow band, but...

I think I'll try some borax at the garage door entrance.
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Old 12-11-17, 10:24 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
...we can puff a ton of powder in there!
Doesn't need quite that much. Maybe a couple of tablespoonfuls of boric acid/powdered sugar mix, scattered as well as possible. With a puffer nozzle I'll try to squirt some sideways too.

And for bed bugs if you use Cimexa or amorphous silica gel dust it takes even less. Very little is needed to be effective. The stuff comes in containers that weigh almost nothing. It's very light and fluffy, but a tiny amount goes a long way.

In some buildings there's just enough breeze between walls to distribute powders even more effectively. Depends on the construction, fire breaks and insulation.

We still have lots of Advion from that failed experiment, would we be able to mix that with some food (powdered sugar?) to make it more attractive (even though no bait stations)? We don't have a cat, but I guess we could buy a little dry cat food.
I scoop up the scraps my cats leave on the floor. We feed them pricey Iams, Blue Buffalo or similar cat food. Darned cats waste so much and won't eat it off the floor. So I sweep up the excess crumbs and save it for homemade roach bait traps with Fipronil or indoxacarb gels -- we have both.

But the ready made bait traps work better and are more convenient.

Any specific bait traps you've had success with?
I used Combat Max with Fipronil last time (this summer). The little traps for German cockroaches. They openings are small to exclude larger insects that are less affected by fipronil and would just waste the bait.

BTW, I've tested my homemade bait traps using cat food crumbs with one of the gels. I'll use double stick tape in a couple of places. If roaches flock to the bait, a few will be trapped. That proves it works. I tape the traps shut -- they're just small cardboard boxes, whatever I had leftover from items we purchased. Or I've used small plastic containers, like leftover butter containers. Cut tiny slots, just enough for the roaches to get inside. Tape the lids shut. When I checked weeks or months later the insides are filthy with dead roaches and poop. So I know the homemade cat food bait traps work.

I've placed dabs of gel alone on double stick tape and have never seen a single sign of a roach -- no trapped insects, not even a leg or antenna, no scat, etc. The gel alone simply does not attract them anymore. It needs to be added to sugar or something the roaches crave.

And with the boric acid/powdered sugar puffed under the fridge and oven, once in awhile I need to pull out the appliances and sweep up the dead bodies. Usually there are dozens. So there are probably quite a few between the walls, etc., where I can't reach.

Besides the baby cockroaches eating the poisoned poop left by adults that have consumed the fipronil or indoxacarb, the adults also eat part of the bodies of the dead babies and adults. So once consumed these poisons keep working repeatedly.


Last edited by canklecat; 12-11-17 at 10:33 PM.
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Old 12-11-17, 10:28 PM
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Wow thanks for the time and education in posting this. Luckily I won't need this but I will pass this on.
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Please dont outsmart the censor. That is a very expensive censor and every time one of you guys outsmart it it makes someone at the home office feel bad. We dont wanna do that. So dont cleverly disguise bad words.
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Old 12-11-17, 10:29 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Now ants were another issue... and yeah, they came right though the light switches and wall plates... always seeking water. weird. They actually got into my GFCI unit for the hot tub (20 feet from the tub itself) and managed to build a "bridge" that shorted out the GFCI circuitry. I replaced the breaker, but could not believe the fried ants in the old one. Go figure.
Yeah, we had that problem for several years at our Texas lake house. Never could figure out whether they were attracted to the electricity or the weather resistant seals, which they'd eat to get inside the switch and outlet boxes.

It started out when we were invaded by fire ants. But over the decades the invasive fire ants interbred with native ants. The results were a sort of bad tempered sugar ant, not quite as aggressive as the original fire ants, but meaner than the once harmless domestic ants.
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Old 12-12-17, 10:45 AM
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Alcohol
was tried, but the open flame burned the place down, that probably took out the insects too.
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Old 12-12-17, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
BTW, I've tested my homemade bait traps using cat food crumbs with one of the gels. I'll use double stick tape in a couple of places. If roaches flock to the bait, a few will be trapped. That proves it works. I tape the traps shut -- they're just small cardboard boxes, whatever I had leftover from items we purchased. Or I've used small plastic containers, like leftover butter containers. Cut tiny slots, just enough for the roaches to get inside. Tape the lids shut. When I checked weeks or months later the insides are filthy with dead roaches and poop. So I know the homemade cat food bait traps work.
What's the point of trapping them, as long as they die, wouldn't it be better for them to get back out to the nest and leave a poisoned carcass?
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Old 12-12-17, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post
What's the point of trapping them, as long as they die, wouldn't it be better for them to get back out to the nest and leave a poisoned carcass?
I used sticky tape on only a couple of baits to be sure they're effective.

That's how I determined the gel alone isn't effective. It needs food bait to lure the critters.

Otherwise, you're correct, the baits work best when the roaches can return to the nest to feed the others.
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Old 12-12-17, 12:51 PM
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I did try mixing some Advion gel with honey and leaving dabs on little strips of paper, but no way to tell if it did anything. No dab ever looked diminshed.
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Old 12-12-17, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post
Burn the place to the ground... the only effective way to eliminate all those nasties.
When I was a kid an older guy who lived two doors away intentionally started a fire outside a large apartment building to scare someone who was bugging him for money that he owed. The entire building ended up catching fire. Five people died. The entire building had to be demolished.
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Old 12-17-17, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by genec View Post

Now ants were another issue... and yeah, they came right though the light switches and wall plates... always seeking water. weird. They actually got into my GFCI unit for the hot tub (20 feet from the tub itself) and managed to build a "bridge" that shorted out the GFCI circuitry. I replaced the breaker, but could not believe the fried ants in the old one. Go figure.


Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Yeah, we had that problem for several years at our Texas lake house. Never could figure out whether they were attracted to the electricity or the weather resistant seals, which they'd eat to get inside the switch and outlet boxes.

It started out when we were invaded by fire ants. But over the decades the invasive fire ants interbred with native ants. The results were a sort of bad tempered sugar ant, not quite as aggressive as the original fire ants, but meaner than the once harmless domestic ants.

Try pouring straight bleach down those ant beds. Works for me when they're too close too the concrete slab of my house. I only tried it because it silenced crickets in between concrete slabs of another residence for me every time. Ammonia drove me out of the room but didn't affect the crickets, lol. Out of desperation I tried bleach on them and to my surprise it worked anytime they moved in.
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Old 07-19-18, 10:56 PM
  #24  
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Today, most of the homeowners found that roaches and bed bugs are the two most annoying and destructive pests that they deal with. It is very important to immediately the destroying bed bugs and roaches early because if they get spread, it will be harder to kill them by yourself.


To eliminate the roaches you can do the following things mention below:
  • Make sure to remove all paper and boxes from your home.
  • Clean your kitchen by using a degreaser and cleaning solution.
  • Fix all the cracks and leaky faucets to cut off the roaches water supply.
  • Spray insecticide and sprinkle boric acid into any crack and crevice specifically for roaches.


To eliminate the bed bugs you can do the following things mention below:
  • Block off all mattresses and box springs in a bed bug mattress cover.
  • You can vacuum the carpet and furniture.
  • You can also do heat treatment to an infested room by having it in 120 degrees Fahrenheit with a rented commercial heater for several hours.

But in most of the cases you will definitely need a professional pest control East Bay CA assistance or you can take help from any local exterminator for bedbugs and roaches to eradicate these pests.

Last edited by JamesSaver; 07-26-18 at 12:35 AM.
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Old 07-20-18, 01:02 AM
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Never had bedbugs but they're supposed to be bad around here. They won't sell used mattresses at goodwill anymore up here for that reason. I've heard that once you get 'em just throw that mattress away.

Roaches love beer. So if you like yourself some roaches dropping off your garbage by the dozens while your carrying it to the trash just throw your empty beer cans in your kitchen garbage sack.
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