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Humane Cockroach Control

roachLast night, I got sucked into watching a few documentaries with overly dramatic titles about insects. I sat in awe for nearly three hours watching ants raise caterpillar larvae as their own, spiders weave thick squares of web to use in a tool-like fashion to capture their prey from the rain-forest floor, and mayflies and cicadas as they shed their skin and emerged from the water and dark underground to start the last and most brief part of their life.

Insects develop complex relationships, care for their young, and work as teams much as we do. When you see a spider or ant running across the floor, it’s likely that they have somewhere important to be in order to complete something that they set out to do that day, just as we run errands and have order in our daily lives. However, often when we see them, we treat their presence as an intrusion, and many people even resort to inhumane methods for dealing with these encounters.

Cockroaches probably bear the brunt of our negative reactions more heavily than most insects. While you certainly don’t want your living space to turn into a cockroach haven, there are humane and affordable methods for discouraging them. Inhumane poisons and traps will do nothing for long-term control and will have you spending more time and money than solving the problem once and for all in an effective and humane manner. With a little time, you can have your environment cockroach-free, and no one has to get hurt. The following is a strategy that I used a couple of years ago, and it worked perfectly.

First and foremost, you must work on prevention. Keep all dishes washed, take trash out frequently, and make sure that unrefrigerated companion animal food is tightly sealed and put away when your animal companion is not eating. Keep countertops wiped down with a vinegar-and-water solution, and sweep, mop, and vacuum regularly. Now for the actual cockroachproofing, you will need the following:

  • Non-toxic white glue
  • Caulking in either white or clear (available from hardware stores)
  • Stoppers for all your drains that do not already have built-in stoppers
  • Dried whole bay leaves

Start with one room at a time, and begin with places where you have seen cockroaches. Put stoppers in all your drains—sinks and bathtub?when not in use to prevent roaches from coming in via your drainpipes. Also be sure to repair leaky faucets and pipes, as roaches are attracted to water.

Seal up all gaps between floorboards, under counters, around sink plumbing and windowsills, and near fuse boxes. For larger gaps, use the caulking, and for smaller gaps, use the glue. This will take some time, but if you just work on it for a little while each day, you will have it finished in no time.

Add dried bay leaves to your kitchen drawers and cabinets, too, as they are a great natural repellent and will leave your kitchen smelling wonderful!

P.S. If after your cockroachproofing you find any little guys who got stuck inside, help them out and use something like this to humanely remove them from your living space.

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  • david collie says:

    Yes I agree, go easy on the poor little blighters. I have been catching the ones I see and throwing them outside. The redemptive moment is when I see them airwalking – similar to when i jump off a diving board askew. is that cruel – to have a laugh at their expense? I figure they are light, with good air resistance and hard shells so when they land they keep on trucking.

  • Jack McCandless says:

    I am in disagreement that roaches don’t feel pain. I think killing roaches is cruel and unusual and if you are caught killing roaches you should have a taxpayer funded psychological exam done on you. If you aren’t found insane you should go to jail for 30 days. I voted both times for President Obama and I would like to see him urge Congress to raise taxes on corporations to help fund pro cockroach clinics to help people understand these fascinating and friendly creatures. JM

  • Aidan says:

    Thanks so much for this! There are roaches everywhere in my new apartment.. It’s great to have a gentle way to get them to move on. Thanks again 🙂

  • Maria says:

    Roaches lack nocireceptors. They are incapable of feeling pain. Therefore, squashing these bugs is not immoral. Roaches can make you sick from the bacteria they carry and can even kill you if you are severely asmatic. Because of this fact, killing them is self defense if they choose to infest your living quarters.

  • Vijay Babu says:

    Dear Mr. Ashish Rastogi, the cycle u say is about one animal feeding on another animal or plant for food or for their own survival and not just kill some being because u find it horrible and scarey

  • nameless says:

    I use a plastic see-through jar and see-thought thin plastic sheet. I catch a cockroach under the jar and put the sheet below, then throw them away in the nature. You can tie a wire to the jar so you can throw them away from your window without fear of touching the roach, sometimes they come out before you push the jar in the air (not throw it). Also, smaller roaches (babies) are slower and have less reaction time, so you could focus on them. And catching and releasing the babies is a good way to make sure the population won’t grow. If you kill all the old people, young people will still be able to have coitus and continue the population. Same with roaches – babies are most important if you’re going to c&r. Seal only places that you’re sure roaches could go away from, you don’t want to imprison them. I’ve caught and released 402 roaches for 15 days. They come out at night, so every hour or two – go check the room they’re usually in.

  • Joan Dahlberg says:

    I am opposed to killing any creature, including cockroaches. A friend told me to put bay leaves around the house, allowing the cockroaches to leave on the same route by which they came in. I’m also going to cover every inch of my kitchen with Apple Cider Vinegar because the fragrance of that also inspires the cockroaches to leave, I’m told. I’m going to try both approaches very soon. Thanks for your information.

  • bug lady says:

    if you are trying to save insects….. they die in a vacuum, so it may be a nice way to make you feel like you are doing something, but because of the way they respirate, it kills them

  • Lynne Mitchell says:

    Thankyou for this information. I have discovered that insects are just like us in many ways. They are thinking feeling beings. Why do you think that they run from us.They are aware of us.Insects know we will kill them therefore If they have the capacity to know fear insects must have emotions not just instinct. This is an awareness that I have just discovered in life. You would not crush or poison a family member.Can you imagine what it would feel like to be crushed.We are the higher animals on Planet Earth,so why must we cause so much suffering to the creatures living with us..??

  • mike says:

    Yes AmyA, I took a look at that link on and there’s a number of pertinent articles on pest control. They really have a good feel for ‘what’s right’. – check it out people!

  • AmyA says:

    Catnip has been found to be more effective than chemical cockroach repellants. Check out this link:

  • Adriana says:

    wow this is great! I already keep my house very clean, but I didnt know about the bay leaves. I love it, and the kitchen does smell great!


  • Karen says:

    Great article – thanks for posting it!
    Do you have any ideas on how to get rid of ants without hurting them?

  • Ashish Rastogi says:

    My view is a little different from other. I see this world as a cycle.

    Try and think it like this, if we start throwing off these cockroaches the way is suggested. They wil land up in someones house anyways. I understand that Killing animals in no good and I am myself a great animal lover. But I also hold the concept that this nature has provided us with a beautiful concept of Balance, where one thing for the other.

    I can write more on this concept, but i guess its a long debate. I am ready for it….r you?

  • bricia ortiz(: says:

    oh god! thank you,, i didn’t want to hurt the cockroach,, but yesterday i saw one,, & i started to cry! cause when i see one i’m like so scared.. but i don’t want to kill them so,, thank you really,, those are great ideas (:

  • Veganbikerbabe says:

    I live in the country in FL and have tons of Palmetto bugs and these other roaches that look more like armadillos (the have these shells vs. wings)… anyway, I have an extreme phobia to these bugs, I’m not kidding, if they fly at me, all bets are off: each man/woman for her own and if I accidentally harm one, I just don’t know what to say… you’d have to have this kinda fear to understand. Anyway, first I tried bug vacs, too weak for the monster roaches I encounter, so I got a hand vac with a little extension for the end: works like a champ. I’ve become a pro at catch and release. It freaks me out, but I’m able to keep enough distance so I’m able to do this.

  • Kimberly says:

    How often do the bay leaves have to be replaced to remain effective?

  • Mims says:

    I’m headed to the kitchen to get the bay leaves!

  • Shelley Butler says:

    Another really good reason not to kill spiders is because they catch the insects that you may not want in your house!
    Also, my husband and I have a safe, humane bug vacuum that we use all the time. It is just a long hollow tube attached to a small vacuum. We save insects of all kinds this way.

  • Veronica Lim says:

    Hi Mylie

    I am very touched by your article. I will never look at common inserts, such as cockroaches, the same way again 🙂

  • Lisa D says:

    The caulk also works great for furry friends that come in during the winter months! They stay away from the caulk because of the smell and the knowledge it will hurt them! So much better than disgusting traps…steel wool works well too!

  • Simara says:

    very cool ~thanks!!!

  • John says:

    i have roaches and already keep everything clean. i think they come in from my neighbor’s apt. sealing up the cracks will probably work, but not sure how to get behind the stove.

  • Rene says:

    These are great ideas, thanks so much for the post.