New Yorkers are never alone. Sun up to sundown, we coexist at home, at the office, and on the train — and sometimes, with cockroaches (we’ve tackled this problem before). Every New Yorker, no matter how diligent at taking out the trash, scrubbing floors, and dishwashing, encounters one (or several) sooner or later. As temperatures drop and cockroaches seek warmth indoors, you may start to notice more of the unwanted roommates. To find out how to get rid of the pests, we talked to Mike Deutsch, entomologist-in-residence at Manhattan’s Arrow Exterminating Company, about the EPA-abiding baits, traps, and insulation tools you’ll need.
“Victor sticky traps are excellent. We use thousands and thousands every year. They not only collect insects, they also help you monitor situations and zero in on where you need to look. Roaches do not move that far from where they’re hatched, so if you pick up a sticky trap and it’s loaded with roaches, you’re in the right spot.”
“Follow that up with directed application of an aerosol or a liquid. An aerosol is a ready-to-use material, but can have lower levels of active ingredient. Ortho Home Defense is a ready-to-use liquid that works well.”
“In terms of long-term cockroach control, go with gel baits. The one we use is called Alpine. It comes out almost like toothpaste. With a roach infestation, the gel will be gone in a couple of days, so the key to success is to use enough and maintain a constant supply of this material. They have to find it, ingest it, metabolize it, and that could take days.”
“Diatomaceous earth is classified by the EPA as ‘reduced-risk’ and is considered very, very safe and low in toxicity — it’s not even registered as a pesticide. It’s actually made up of ground-up diatom fossils that have been in the earth for millions of years. It’s an organic product and there are no fumes or vapors. It’s a desiccant, so when the insect walks through it, it cuts the exoskeleton, accelerating water loss until the insect dies.”
“One of the ways to control these things is to repair structural gaps that cockroaches like to hide in. Roaches harbor in cracks and crevices, so if you spot any, seal those up using a spackling paste or any kind of silicone caulking. If you’re looking at a wooden floor that has gaps in it, there’s wood putty you can put in there and deny them access that way.”
“For worst-case scenarios, our guys use backpack vacuums, which are even more expedient than an aerosol. Use a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter that can trap insects and contain them inside the machine. Just vacuum them up, remove the plastic bag, tie it up, and throw it out.”
“The best thing to do is to try to hunt these guys down and figure out where they’re nesting. If roaches live behind the picture frame, for example, you will see what almost looks like pepper on the wall. That’s an indication that you need to get your vacuum cleaner ready, because when you move the picture frame, the roaches will probably run all over the place. Little moving hairs in cracks are the tips of antennae. To clearly see the telltale signs, you’ll need a very good flashlight. All my technicians use a Streamlight, the same used by police and first responders.”
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