This past Sunday I nearly had a heart attack when I realized I was sharing my shower with nothing other than an ugly cockroach.

Immediately, I jumped out of the shower, panicked, and called my mom.

Cockroaches are bad. Very bad.

I’ve heard all the horror stories. I heard about how they basically can live forever and if you see one there is always more. I’ve heard a lot about cockroaches, but I didn’t know what was fact or fiction because I had never actually seen or dealt with one.

I knew I could use pesticide or poison, but then what about Luna? Are there any pet friendly solutions?

Don't worry this is a fake cockroach. Who needs real ones?

Don’t worry this is a fake cockroach. Who needs real ones?

So once I was finally able to breathe again, I did two things.
1. Immediately went and told the management of my apartment complex for a long term solution (hopefully).
2. Turned to seek advice from my semi-trusty friend, Google.

Between asking Google all about cockroaches and dealing the problem personally, I learned a few things.

If you call professionals, ask questions. It will be helpful to know what they plan to do. If they plan to spray, is it safe? Can you and your pets be in your home or do you have to leave and for how long? Will they need access to anywhere? Will you have to move things?

When the professional arrives, be sure to ask even more questions. You might learn something new. I learned just how important this is after last summer’s fiasco. Now I know more about mold than I thought I ever would.

According to the nice pest control man, I learned that with cockroaches you typically see the babies first, which made sharing a shower with an adult a bit strange. The babies are much smaller than what you typically think of when you think of cockroaches.

Figuring out where the cockroach came from is actually pretty important because it can help you identify the nest. This is even more important if you have a big infestation. Killing one cockroach won’t solve the problem.

Cockroaches come out mostly to find water. They can survive up to a month without food, but only a week without water. Prevent them from having access to water, so be sure any leaks are dried and fixed.

Using harmful chemicals isn’t the only option. There are many pet friendly options. I was able to pick up a bottle of EcoSmart Ant and Roach spray for about $4 at a local home improvement store. I haven’t used it yet (thank goodness), so I can’t speak to its effectiveness. They also make a home pest control for both indoors and outdoors, which you could use to prevent new roommates from moving in unexpectedly.

My cockroach battle supplies

My cockroach battle supplies

There are many home remedy options as well. A soapy water solution may stun or even kill a cockroach. This is what I used because it is what I had on hand. I’m not sure if the cockroach died, but it slowed it down enough that I could get rid of it. Other options may include be dryer sheets, coffee grounds, bay leafs, essential oils. The effectiveness of these may depend heavily on the species of cockroach you are actually dealing with.

I have heard a lot about Borax from some Beagles and Bargains readers over on Facebook. While Borax may be effective, it is toxic to you and your pets if it is ingested. If you decide to you to try Borax, keep it out of reach and away from any food or dishes. And, remember your pets may be sneakier than you think.

If you elect to use other traps or baits, use caution! Do not place any of the traps or baits where your pets (or children) can easily get to them. Know exactly where you put them and make sure to notify all of your roommates or family right away. Admittedly I have ones in the bathrooms and those doors stay closed at all times, so I am confident Luna can’t get to them. Once I’m confident the problem is gone, so will the traps.

You can also make home made traps. I found two creative options online:
1. Fill a mason jar about 3/4 of the way with water and place it next to a wall. Roaches can get in, but not out. You can also add bait like coffee grounds or sugar to try to attract more roaches.
2. Cut a 2-liter soda bottle right when the bottle neck gets to the widest part. Unscrew the cap and invert the top so that the “spout” is now point to the bottle of the bottle. Fill with water and add a bit of soap or bait. Again, roaches can get in, but not out.

And just for fun here are some other miscellaneous myth busters about cockroaches:
1. Cockroaches do not all avoid light. Some species do, but some actually are drawn to it.
2. Cockroaches are affected by radiation, so surviving a nuclear attack may not be in the cards for them. However, they are able to survive 10x our lethal dose.
3. Cockroaches can be conditioned like Pavlov’s dog. If training Luna, doesn’t work maybe I can train my new roommates.

I’m no cockroach expert (thank goodness), so I’d love to learn about your experiences.

Have you ever dealt with cockroaches or other pests? How did you stay pet friendly?

Jessica Shipman
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