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Be Kind to Cockroaches

The following is a guest post by PETA staffer Paula Moore.
June is National Pest Control Month—but instead of reaching for the Raid, why not show a little kindness to a cockroach? A new study by scientists at Queen Mary, University of London has found that cockroaches are social beings who “talk” to one another about food and prefer to dine in groups. When presented with two identical slices of bread, the roaches repeatedly gathered around the same slice, rather than splitting up. In an earlier study, researchers used computer simulations to show that, even with their tiny brains, insects have enough neural circuits to possess consciousness, and they may even be able to count. According to professor Lars Chittka, one of the researchers, “Animals with bigger brains are not necessarily more intelligent.” If you’re not ready to roll out the welcome mat, though, here are a few simple steps to help you keep unwanted bugs at bay:


• Don’t provide roaches with food. Wash dishes promptly, store food in tightly sealed containers, and keep trash in bins with tight-fitting lids.


• Remove roaches’ hiding places. Keep compost heaps as far from your house as possible, always wash out food containers before storing them for recycling, and don’t let old newspapers pile up.


• Prevent roaches from entering your home by sealing up holes and cracks. Baby roaches can squeeze into a space as thin as a dime.


• If you do see roaches, scatter whole bay leaves or catnip throughout your house. Iowa State University scientists found that catnip is 100 times more effective than DEET at repelling roaches.


Check out PETA president Ingrid E. Newkirk’s book Making Kind Choices for more tips on dealing kindly with insects and for other ideas on animal-friendly living.
Commenting is closed.
  • Alafair says:

    Ok I will be kind to cockroaches BUT, I draw the line at fleas; nothing you could ever tell me would make me be kind to fleas, they are truely from the devil.

  • Heather says:

    First – BLESS ALL OF YOUR BEAUTIFUL SOULS! And I am in TOTAL agreement with Amitava. I rarely have roaches in my home, but when I do, I carry them out, and ask them to please stay in the vast outdoors, not come in(I don’t know if it’s true, but I heard they spread salmonella….). I too only kill mosquitos – until recently: I’ve developed ant problems. I have 3 different types. from the past, I learned that a certain type of black ant is drawn to the heat from your electrical wiring, and have been burnt alive on exposed wires, causing sparks in switchplates/switches (this happened in an old home I rented years ago). I can’t keep up with carrying all of these scurrying critters out – is there a humane way of repelling them? I have purchased ant traps for all of the rooms in my home because it’s out of control – but I’m living daily, with horrible guilt, praying for forgiveness.

  • Whatever says:

    Keeping a relatively clean house does the job. When I see a roach in the house I catch it and release it outside (while shrieking, of course 🙂
    I live in southern California and some years, like this one, the ants are a problem. I use a product called Orange Guard to keep them away. I spray it where they enter. For those that entered, I collect them with a wet rag and leave it outside so they can get away.

  • Anita H says:

    “Most species of cockroaches are kind of like cats. Cats are considered to be a very clean animal because it’s always grooming itself. And cockroaches do that also,” says bug collector Darrin Vernier. He lives in the US state of Arizona and is crazy about creepy crawlies.”

  • a says:

    Catnip! who knew? Great tip!

  • anne says:

    thank you so very much for posting this article! i always try to speak to people about being kind to all insects – especially cockroaches!
    i call them “charity” as a name, so people are less likely to hurt them. give anything a name + they become personable!

    anne koch

  • Stephanie says:

    I am extremely terrified of roaches big or small, its kind of like a phobia. Thanks for the tips!!! I am so trying them!! Wish me luck!!!
    Thanks!! 🙂

  • lasya says:

    can anyone tell me of other human alternatives available in India to keep away roaches?

  • Amitava says:

    My comments may annoy people. If it is annoying, I request PETA to remove it. I am writing this from my feeling and not logic or emotion that we usually do. The loving attitude of PETA reminds me of the BROTHERHOOD that Jesus Christ preached but we never learnt. I believe it is time to throw away corporate culture and consumerism, and to learn brotherhood that is overdue to us. LIFE is highest creation of God and BROTHERHOOD is natural progression of LIFE. I suppose words like kindness, frugality, care, love, tenderness are merely different names of same one BROTHERHOOD. I bow down to PETA and its loyal followers for their sovereign attitude towards LIFE.

  • TC says:

    what did you feed them? I have decided they are really smart: they run at you if you feel/show fear; but if you don’t or you move toward them, they run away. I think they can tell if you plan to hurt them too but that may just be from body language. Anyway, one that was running away let me pick it up on paper after I said I was not going to hurt it. I just put it outside. Sounds crazy, I know, but I thought I would try talking to it to see if it would let me move it instead of kill it. Worked. I hate killing anything, even the roaches. Although I make an exception for any mosquito

  • Kristin VanGuilder says:

    I don’t kill cockroaches!! I just saw a medium sized one tonight and I just looked at it and walked off. I do give my cats Frontline or Advantage & Capstar to kill the fleas & ticks. If they were not on my cats I would not kill them either. I try not to ever kill anything but rather bless whatever being I encounter. Thank you Peta for being so very AMAZING.

  • Bill Roseberry says:

    This is great news. I have had cats (Bob died at 25 and Ray at 29) and still have one, Marie is 11. I do have a pest problem, living in an apartment complex it seems to be inevitable, and worry about using poisons and chemicals because of her. I’m none to happy about the karmic payback for killing roaches on a massive scale or individually, but I feel that way generally anyhow. This will provide me with a conscientious and kind alternative. And I knew all that about cockroach intelligence and social structure. It’s not on a scale of an ant colony, but similar. I just don’t want them around! Thanks again!

  • cheese recipe says:

    Well, will try to be kind. Lemme hope for the good friendship! lol

  • Felice says:

    OK, is it weird that I think roaches are cute? I wouldn’t want them in my house, but my fiance and I like to go to our local botanical conservatory for their Thursday night cocktail night, and for some reason (the temperature and humidity, I’m guessing), all of the greenhouse rooms have roach populations. If we sit long enough on a bench in one of those rooms with our glasses of red wine sitting on the ground, they love to come up and check things out. They seem to be able to smell the fermenting fruit in the wine from many feet away. 😉 I keep trying to “pet” them, but I think I mostly just scare the heck out of them. Guess I’ll have to settle for admiring them at a distance.

  • Camilla says:

    Is there any way to keep spiders out of the house?

  • Norma Burr says:

    We had the most terrible infestation of cockroaches and, despite pest control, we just couldn’t get rid of them, despite being scrupulously clean. I really didn’t want to use pest control again, but discovered an electronic device which said it kept away roaches and mice. Within 3 weeks there was not a cockroach to be seen. I was told this device would eventually become ineffectual, but that was over two years ago and they have not returned. If they do, however, the catnip and bay leaves will certainly be given a go.

  • dawn says:

    I’m TERRIFIED of these guys… it’s a phobia: a completely irrational fear and I know darned well the spreading disease argument is irrelevant and is just something people like to tell themselves to feel better about killing them… you have a greater chance of catching something from another human, so shut up with that BS!

    Trying to live a cruelty free life has it’s challenges. I’m not affraid of anything, even if it’s actually dangerous (poisonous spiders, poisonous snakes) I just love all animals…. but man, this phobia! What’s a girl to do? Thank goodness for the handy dandy hand vac! I can’t use it on other bugs, not that I would need to (no other fears), as the other bugs are more delicate and require a capture by hand strategy of some nature, but these suckers in FL are huge and require a serious relocation device. First I tried one of those special bug vacs… very funny… no suction, roaches probably all congretated and laughed at me… Then I got a serious hand vac… I have a decent success rate, and then I can just release them outside (that’s probably funny for the neighbors to watch because I’m scared then too, but I’m getting better at this with time.)

    Thanks for the prevention tips Peta. Boric acid works wonders to make the house unattractive to bugs, and in the areas I can put it, I have NO problems, but I can’t really put it in the kitchen, so I’m armed with my hand vac for those times when I need the extra help.

    I wish I could get over the phobia, so I could just catch them by hand, but in order to do that, I’d have to undergo some hardcore hypno-therapy, and frankly, I trust the roaches I’m terrifed of more than some person messing with my brain.

    It was nice to read about Roaches. I hope someday I can see them for the wonderful animals they are. I’m trying, but until then, I’m working around it in a non-violent way and becoming more compassionate over time… It’s really nice to see other people trying to expand their compassion as well:)

  • Carleigh says:

    I am actually allergic to dead cockroaches, not living ones. So I prefer them alive for my health. 🙂

  • Tariq M. says:

    Aside from CatNip, Pest Offense is an excellent device that utilizes the wiring inside your home to evict cockroaches in a compassionate, human manner. Rather than using sonar, it uses the wiring to transmit a signal every two minutes to stimulate their nervous systems in cycles that prevents their acclimation to the signal. Within weeks they pack their bags and leave without the introduction of poisons or slaughter. The device runs around the clock and uses on 2W/h (48 W/day), which is a negligible amount of electricity (most refrigerators use more than 120 W/h).

    It worked wonders in my home.

  • Marie-Pier says:

    OMG 😀 Thts soooo cute 🙂

  • chander kumar soni says:

    i would definately kind.

  • Carol says:

    Bigger brain humans don’t have a clue how to use their brains or they would stop killing all the innocent beautiful animals that God created and that is fact.

  • Carol says:

    We don’t have a lot of roaches in our house because we have a lot lizzards in our yard and we have p rock that surrounds our home as well they don’t like walking over them so they really don’t enter our home and when we do find them for the most part my husband throws back outside but I really can’t stand them at all and that is a fact.

  • Cynthia S says:

    Yes those mo’fo’s can think, little bastards! And they can plot. Haha, the monster size roaches we have in Texas (3″+ long) are incredibly smart… Long after human civilization is gone and over with the roaches will be going about their regular routine (minus the human garbage/buffet).

  • sandy says:

    Will Catnip get rid of flies too?

  • Donna Coliz says:

    I can’t really say that I love cockroaches and ants; but I don’t like to kill them either. I use boric acid (just pour a little around the perimeter of the house) and that keeps the little ant guys outside where they belong. I am interested in trying the catnip for the roaches. That certainly seems like a win-win for all. Thank you for the info.

  • Trevor Rogers says:

    If I see a roach I’m still going to kill it

  • cheryl cousins says:

    oh boy, for real, catnip– yes, that is soo great,I don’t have a cat right now, but when I did, I also had some roach problems, but the cats eat the roaches.. problem solved. Now although I really despise them more than any other insect alive.. sorry, but as I watched them through a glass maze, an event that my daughter had me attend, it was interesting to watch.. don’t ever want them in my home.. or my neighborhood for that matter.. but bay leaves and catnip are awsum ideas.. Thanks PETA for enviormentally conscious ways of insect control.. I hate Raid as well.. ewww..

  • Suzi Kasarda says:

    I put a glass over EVERYTHING that needs to go outside & release it…unless of course it’s too cold. Then it becomes a guest for the winter! One time I opened up a portfolio atleast FIVE YEARS OLD! A poor roach had been in there all that time. When he saw light, he glanced at me & jumped about 20 feet to his freedom! YIPPEE FOR ALL LIVING THINGS!

  • LAMD says:

    Well, a pipe burst under our house and with the excess water roaches moved in. Now after trying to deal with it ourselves we have a huge roach problem. We are using orkin but if there’s a better more humane way i’m willing to try it. However, they are pretty established and i don’t think catnip will do the trick. What do you guys suggest?

  • ritika says:

    hey thanks for the alert ..:)
    we often tend to become insensitive towards these tiny cute little creatures..
    many folks use insect killing products to drive away the insects..but far more better option would be keep the homes clean nd tidy,…!!!

  • Angel says:

    Proof of what I have known for years.
    When I was a freshman in college back in 1982, I lived in a cool, dank dormitory in Virginia.
    We didn’t have tv’s in our rooms and had to go to the basement if we wanted to catch anything on the tube. By the cool glow of the picture tube with no lights on, I could literally hear the pitter patter of little feet on the linoleum. I eventually named and identified 2 roaches that I made the habit of feeding out of the lid of a mason jar. They expected their evening treats and shared their little meals at my feet. (I could hear them as they smacked the food!)I can’t believe there wasn’t more to follow, but, “Pete and Repeat” always put a smile on my face!

  • Rachel L'Heureux says:

    Thank you! I used to share my home with a large population of Brown Recluse Spiders, and despite being bitten a few times, I wouldn’t kill them. I’d just reloate them to the outdoors where they belong.

  • shekli says:

    thanks for remind me not to be cruel..

  • enya says:

    oh myy this is a tough one im not scared of insects but roaches even though i know they are harmless people are usually scared of spiders n bees i dont mind them i usually save em and even think spiders are like the sexy ones of insects 😀 but roaches ahhh i hate them! but luckily i dont have a roach problem at home 🙂 what i do got is a horrible ant problem

  • Bob says:

    Ive always been interested in cockroaches. Nice to see some people care about the poor little guys :).

  • ttomato says:

    Oh Jeez…! I am one of the grown adults that freeeks over many insects…especially the cucaraches! We have a clean home and don’t have the little roach infestation but we do have the tree roaches that are bigger than my thumb. And they are QUICK and I swear they know I am afraid because I have experienced them running AT ME. Across a big room, running and jumping off a counter at me and running across my foot once while sitting in a chair. . No Meat was always a no-brainer…this is a difficult one. I’ll start with the Catnip Idea.

  • Karen says:

    Thank you for this wonderful idea. I have one or two living in my cubby space, and I have refused to use anything toxic to try to dissuade them. I love the non-toxic and environmentally friendly alternative this article provides.

    Cockroaches spend 94% of their time cleaning themselves, making them one of the cleanest animals or insects out there!

  • Kevin says:

    According to professor Lars Chittka, one of the researchers, “Animals with bigger brains are not necessarily more intelligent.”

    I’m not quite sure why this needed to be reiterated. This is something Darwin argued several years ago. The only difference between species’ is degree of intelligence with respects to a particular structure.

    Human beings tend to be considered more intelligent than “beasts” due to a necessity to use their brains in different ways than, lets say, a cockroach.

  • Alex says:

    Love the idea! Why kill them when you can get rid off them without sprays that will leave poisonous gases in your house and destroy the environment! I love PETA!

  • agnieszka says:

    my cat will be sooo happy

  • J. AGUIRRE says:

    I experienced cockroaches when I was a young child. Since that time, I’ve learned the cickroaches carry many diseases, including Leprosy This is something I would not like my family or friends exposed to.

  • Ana says:

    I am an extremely cautious and clean person but like the other comment stated. I had NO idea that catnip would be helpful in a roach problem.

  • Jessica says:

    Cockroaches terrify me and disgust me. I dont know why they are so horrible looking! I dont know if they whole friendly cockroach thing is for me but ill try for PETA :).

  • Ashleigh Ally says:

    Wow, those are some hardcore roach facts! I know there’s that theory that they’re so strong they’ll survive a nuclear bombing but I had no idea they were considered so smart and social!
    While I can’t say I’m ready to live side by side with these little critters, I think I’ll invest in some catnip or bay leaves for the bathroom because I know they’re in there. Thanks for the humane ideas with how to deal with them. I don’t have the heart to kill them, but I also can’t share a bathroom with them!

  • Lisa says:

    This is AWESOME! Thank you thank you. I love seeing love and respect for all animals, and constructive ways to not invite them into your home. 🙂

  • Suzie Q. Wacvet says:

    You can get catnip spray at pet stores. I’ll bet that would be better than sprinkling catnip around the house. Of course, if you have cats, you might want to try a different approach!

  • Lacey says:

    This is great! Cat nip is a great idea for roach repellent! I have two cats… I’m sure they will love find catnip everywhere.

  • Julie Wheeler says:

    Does catnip work for other bugs as well? I’m all for non-toxic resolutions!

  • Aneliese says:

    Thank you for the post – I don’t have cockroach problems, but I had no idea catnip worked to get rid of them.