How to Wage War against Cockroaches

by Zoe Baker-Peng

…Because they probably are.

New York City is infamous for its cockroaches which plague businesses and homes alike. I had always heard the rumors of just how pesky these creatures are – they’re invincible! they outlived the dinosaurs! – but my contact with them had been minimal. I had seen them on the street and watched one get killed in the Hewitt dining room but I had never actually dealt with one…until the day my friend brought one home in her bag and I had to help her kill it.

For those of you unlucky enough to encounter a cockroach in your suite/room/anywhere you don’t want roaches, here are a couple of ideas to try and get rid of them. For those of you who haven’t yet experienced them, consider yourself lucky and read these tips to keep the roaches at bay.


How to prevent cockroaches from getting in your suite/room:

  • Make sure you have no open food! Food is an open invitation for cockroaches so make sure you store it all away. Invest in some foil, cellophane, Tupperware and air-tight containers so that the smell of your food doesn’t attract the roaches. Put open bags of food, like chips, raisins or candy, in ziplock bags and seal them tight. All food should be kept in cupboards or in the fridge/freezer and not on the counter top.
  • Wash your dishes! Don’t leave any dirty dishes in the sink or on counter tops and make sure there aren’t any crumbs on dishes in the cupboard.
  • Wipe down surfaces such as the stove top, around the sink, and the countertops so as to avoid stains, crusted food, and crumbs. Designate a sponge specifically for this use as it will get dirty quickly.
  • Mop/sweep/vacuum your floor, especially in the kitchen. This will get rid of any stray food bits that fell as you made your dinner or collect the crumbs from your studying snack.
  • Dispose of your garbage regularly, especially if you have a lot of food scraps. It might seem like a pain, especially if the garbage collection isn’t until the next morning, but it makes a huge difference. Your kitchen won’t smell nearly as enticing without fresh trash.
  • Avoid storing large amounts of plastic bags/brown paper bags in an area, particularly under the sink. While you might be trying to save the environment, you’re also creating a welcoming home to cockroaches who like to nest in dense, dark areas.
  • Keep your room tidy and free of clutter. The more mess you have, the more likely cockroaches will pick your room as the one in which to live.
  • When you’re out in the city, don’t ever put an open bag down on the floor. This is how my friend brought one back to our suite. Make sure your bag is shut tightly and try to keep it elevated. Cockroaches are in restaurants, on public transportation, and in public spaces, such as parks, so be aware that they can crawl into any bags you have.
  • When you do laundry, don’t leave your clothes on the floor of the laundry room or in a big heap for a long time. Cockroaches can migrate to laundry rooms and will happily crawl into a dark mound of clothes.
  • Avoid keeping vegetation near windows. Cockroaches will be attracted to the plants and crawl in the window. It may be worth investing in a couple of screens for your windows. University Housewares (2901 Broadway) sells them in different shapes and sizes to suit your need.

How to get rid of/kill cockroaches in your suite/room:

Note: it’s a lot easier to get rid of a cockroach with more than one person but too many will complicate the process.

  • As tempting as it is to run away, keep your eye on the roach when you spot one so that you always know where it is.
  • If the step above fails, methodically search the room. Seal off the door so that it cannot escape (note: cockroaches can slip through tiny gaps) and start to check behind/under/inside objects. If you’re terrified, I suggest a large poking device (we used a Swiffer mop).
  • Clear the area as best you can so that if the cockroach runs you are able to track it and take aim easily.
  • Cockroaches are very difficult to kill so when you have a good shot, take it. Stamping works well but you may have to do this several times and it also involves getting reasonably close to the cockroach. We smashed a bin over it three times before the cockroach was no longer alive.
  • Do not let the cockroach beat you. If you lose it, you may think it has evaded you but trust in your sight. If you saw it crawl under that cupboard, it probably still is under that cupboard or at least in that area. Don’t give up. Even if it’s two in the morning (as it was for us), keep going as you’ll have no way of knowing where it is the next day.
  • Unless you know for sure that the cockroach was brought into your apartment, it is better to be safe than sorry. Call Barnard facilities and ask for the exterminator to come to your room/suite. Cockroaches multiply rapidly so don’t relegate this task to the bottom of your to-do list.

Zoe Baker-Peng is a sophomore at Barnard and Managing Editor for The Nine Ways of Knowing.

Image courtesy of MemeCrunch.

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