City Living

First Real Sign of Spring (Or: Bug-Eradication Tips?)


It looked a lot like this. iStockphoto hide caption

itoggle caption iStockphoto

We changed the clocks. The crocuses bloomed. Baseball season started. But somehow it didn't feel like spring . . . . Until yesterday. My wife and I had our first water bug of the season saunter through the kitchen last night. Ah, Mother Nature, how you bless us with your many creations.

For those who don't know, water bugs are big insects related to roaches. But bigger. At least the ones in Brooklyn are. They're about two inches long and one inch wide. I know some of you will call me soft for being disturbed by these harmless scamps. Others will call me inhumane for wanting to eradicate them from my life. You're entitled to your opinions. But you probably don't live in a bug-infested dystopia.

The exterminator comes once a month, to no avail. We lay out roach motels, and the bugs order room service. We put down boric acid, and they take it like a B-12 shot in the thorax.

So fair blog readers, I ask you: Got any good ideas? Does anyone have any tips for getting rid of water bugs and roaches that don't involve large quantities of chemicals?



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MOVE... Sorry... LOL :)

Sent by Robert | 10:08 AM | 4-9-2008

I always use a mixture of suger, Boric acid and milk.

Mix equal parts sugar (attracts the bugs)and boric acid (kills the bugs). Then titrate the milk (adds a silky creamyness) untill the mixture turns in to a almost pastey slurry.

Then just put the sticky mixture in corners, behind your washer and dryer, behind your refridgerator, under tables and chairs or anyplace that seems to have access to the inside of you walls.

The theory is that the mixture will stick the the legs of the creepy crawlies and they will take it back home with them...which is ideal.

Boric Acid is safe for humans.

Sent by Richard Call | 11:06 AM | 4-9-2008

meow, meow!?!

Sent by jan | 11:34 AM | 4-9-2008

A good thought Jan, but I'm allergic to cats, and those hypoallergenic cats look like Mr. Bigglesworth.

Sent by Dan Pashman, NPR | 11:40 AM | 4-9-2008

Wow, um, I don't think we have those here. Not like that anyway. Our water bugs are the ones that balance on water. In the midwest we have cricket issues. When they got unruly at my parents', they "bug bombed" the whole house themselves and that took care of them for a while. When ants got bad in our apartment last year, I found they were coming from poorly installed baseboard trim and I took some drywall putty and slathered it in the gaps in the corners. Not having any contact with your ailment, I'm not sure if any of those would work.

Sent by Sarah Lee | 12:47 PM | 4-9-2008

That's not "a big insect related to roaches," it's a roach. Periplaneta americana, to be exact:

Sent by allstonian | 1:48 PM | 4-9-2008

I have to be careful here, Dan, because this may sound like a dig (it isn't)...

To get rid of most bugs...VACUUM...and do it often. Get all of those little crumbs. It's simple, but it can work. (A tip from an entomologist friend of mine).

Sent by Phillip | 1:54 PM | 4-9-2008

P.S. I'm sorry to hear that the exterminator isn't helping. We finally broke a years-long infestation of German and Oriental cockroaches with the help of an exterminator who used a bait which, I believe, interfered with breeding. Spraying was nearly useless - the bait did the trick (and was far less noxious!) and we've been bug-free for two years now. (Crossing fingers and knocking on wood vigorously!)

Sent by allstonian | 1:56 PM | 4-9-2008

Geckos. Seriously.

Sent by Sarah Goodyear | 2:23 PM | 4-9-2008

Thanks Sarah, but the idea of a gecko living unseen in my apartment, detectable only by its bark, is infinitely more disturbing than roaches...I think.

Sent by Dan Pashman, NPR | 3:49 PM | 4-9-2008

Bengal Roach Spray! We have it in the south and it's the only thing that works.

Sent by Terry Donovan | 4:28 PM | 4-9-2008

By Bengal Roach Spray, do you mean I should get a bengal tiger and have it live in my apartment to kill roaches? Because if I have a choice between a gecko and a tiger, I'm going with the gecko. I don't want any animal in my apartment that I can't beat in a fight.

Sent by Dan Pashman, NPR | 4:38 PM | 4-9-2008

Oh, man, other Sarah, that's ickey. I won't even let my husband get a gecko and let it live in a glass tank. Oogie. Perfectly valid solution. Though only when desperate measures are called for. :: shudder ::

Sent by Sarah Lee | 5:20 PM | 4-9-2008

everybody is so wanting to help final thought is that you get npr to open an office in jersey...although, come to think of it, the "garden state" might also suggest Bugs!!! hey, that's it...a pretend "scarecat"

Sent by jan | 5:57 PM | 4-9-2008

Our house is a row house in the heart of Boston's student ghetto. My wife's parents, from whom we inherited the house when they died in the summer of 2005 (separately, but within about three weeks of each other), were wildlife rehabilitators, which meant there was a lot of animal feed and the like about. So between ready sources of food and being able to migrate from our slovenly student neighbors' houses, this house was just, like, The Perfect Storm of roaches. We once had a plumber walk out and refuse to do a job because he was too grossed out by what he saw when he looked under the sink.

So we hired an exterminator to spray, and that helped a bit, but it was a pain because of all the animals still left in the house (a dog, three cats and three birds) and the amount of prep work involved, where we basically had to completely dismantle and box up the kitchen.

So the second time we called an exterminator in, he laid bait traps and glue boards. That was in the spring of 2006. I have literally seen ONE roach in this house in the two years since. Think bait, not spray.

And, um...having written all that out, I've just realized that my wife has already posted this tip, because I wasn't looking at the bylines. She's Allstonian. Hi, sweetie!

Sent by Stewart | 6:27 PM | 4-9-2008

nbc just reported that the CR's are down 30% in new york...does that include brooklyn!?! give 'em a buzz...i mean nbc, not the bugs!!!

Sent by jan | 6:59 AM | 4-10-2008

We have a bunch of those here in Hawaii. Another thing, they can fly. The best remedy is bait and vacuum. 2nd best, the plain old shoe (to smash them)

Sent by Charlie | 7:29 AM | 4-12-2008