Why you should trust us
For this guide, we spoke with Philip Koehler, PhD, endowed professor of urban entomology at the University of Florida. Koehler has been studying cockroaches for more than thở 40 years. His entomological accolades are too numerous to lớn list, but suffice it to lớn say, he was inducted into the Pest Management Professional Hall of Fame in năm ngoái.
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We also spoke with Stewart Clark, Terro’s director of research. Clark has been in the pest-control industry since the late 1970s. He began his career by developing new roach-control strategies for Whitmire Research Laboratories, an organization that helped develop targeted baits. He now works with Terro and Woodstream (Terro’s parent company) on new pest-control solutions. In our conversation, he discussed Terro’s specific products, as well as general background information on roaches and the pest-control industry. Although Clark is employed by a manufacturer, we’ve found him to lớn be a reliable and honest voice on all things pest control.
As for u, I’ve covered bug-related topics for Wirecutter for years, and I’ve written about ants, mosquitoes, flies, bug zappers, wasp and hornet sprays, and bug repellents (and also why essential oils are not good bug repellents). Through this research, I have spoken with a wide variety of specialists, read hundreds of pages of bug-related studies, and tested dozens of products. I also live in a rural area and raise a variety of livestock, so sánh effective bug and pest control is a personal thing for u.
Who this is for
This guide is for anyone who can stomach the idea of dealing with a cockroach problem on their own. Pest-control professionals are knowledgeable and generally efficient, but their services can easily cost hundreds of dollars. So we think it makes sense to lớn first try a few things yourself. Not only are you likely to lớn save some money in the process (most of the products we recommend cost less than thở $15), but you’ll also gain a swelling sense of pride for having protected your living space from the gross, six-legged invaders.
And you definitely don’t want roaches around. Besides being generally creepy, roaches can carry diseases, cause allergies, destroy food, and (brace yourself) crawl into your ears while you sleep. They can multiply quickly, too, so sánh you’re going to lớn want to lớn spring into action at the first sighting.
Simple steps to lớn take before spending any money
Before embarking on your cockroach-eradication efforts, there are a few simple measures to lớn take that might even solve your problem entirely. Like ants, cockroaches are in your home page for a reason, and it’s up to lớn you to lớn get rid of those reasons. “First of all, make it hard for them to lớn obtain food, water, and harborage,” Koehler said. “Those are the three things cockroaches need to lớn live,” he added.
Clean up. “Generally where you have poor sanitation, you’re going to lớn see cockroach problems,” Clark said. Put food in sealed containers, vacuum up all the crumbs on the kitchen floor, and keep the counters clean. Clark also recommends that you secure all pet food. “They love dog food. When [researchers] raise cockroaches, they feed them dog food.” It’s true. Scientists at Oklahoma State University have kept a colony of Madagascar hissing cockroaches going for more than thở 16 years “on a steady diet of dry dog food and water.”
Find out where they’re living. Cockroaches lượt thích to lớn spend time in cracks and crevices. “A happy cockroach is one that’s squeezed into a crack with its back against one side of the crack and its feet against the other side of the crack,” Koehler said. They’re commonly found behind stoves, in the spaces where pipes come up under the kitchen sink, and in and around corrugated boxes. Roaches love corrugated cardboard. “When [researchers] build enclosures to lớn raise cockroaches, they’ll put pieces of cardboard in it,” Clark told us. The area around the fridge is a favorite too “because the heat from the compressor rises and goes into the cracks of the cabinetry above the refrigerator,” Koehler explained. He added that refrigerators are also good water sources, “because you have the defrost cycle where water is produced and also condensation around the seals.”
After you bởi all of those things, we recommend getting into baits. But keep in mind that you’re going up against hundreds of millions of years of a species’ survival abilities. There is a chance you’ll be unsuccessful. “If there were a true solution to lớn all the cockroach problems, it wouldn’t be that hard to lớn get rid of them, right? They wouldn’t have been around for 350 million years,” Koehler said. Clark added a similar sentiment, saying, “At this point I don’t think there is a silver bullet in any of these products.” That being said, Koehler noted that “it’s good to lớn have several different kinds of tools in the toolbox.”
How we picked and tested
Cockroaches are scavengers. “They’re lượt thích the vultures of the insect world,” Koehler said. The best way to lớn take advantage of this natural tendency is to lớn use a bait, which is food laced with a slow-acting poison. Because the poison doesn’t kill instantly, there is time for the roach to lớn spread it to lớn other roaches. Note that all of the ways they transmit the poison are absolutely disgusting. “Adult females will take care of their young by pooping and letting them eat it,” Koehler said. So once the toxin is digested and, ahem, expelled, it still can kill. Additionally, roaches often regurgitate—and that too can be eaten by other roaches. Finally, let’s not forget straight-up cannibalism, in which living roaches will eat the deceased, toxin-infused toàn thân of another roach. The beauty of nature is on full display with cockroaches.
Don’t get caught up in the specific active ingredients of the products. After hearing a list of common poisons used in roach baits—including abamectin, hydramethylnon, fipronil, and indoxacarb—Koehler told us that “virtually all of those products should work, if the bait is good.” But, he said, “there is such a thing as bait aversion. Which means that the cockroaches refuse to lớn eat the bait because they detect something in the bait that they find unpalatable.” Understanding this means being ready to lớn switch things up if you’re not having success. Professional pest-control operators rotate to lớn a new bait every few months for exactly this reason. Many pest-control experts (and entomologists at Utah State University) endorse this approach.
The specific type of cockroach you’re targeting isn’t that important, either. American cockroaches, German cockroaches, and Brown-Banded cockroaches are among the most likely to lớn be found indoors. And each of them have their preferences (American cockroaches lượt thích sewers and can enter your home page through a poorly sealed toilet, according to lớn Koehler). But as long as you’re placing the bait where you’re seeing the roaches, they should be effective.
Baits are available in a variety of formats, but bait stations are the easiest to lớn use. And they offer the most security against curious children and pets. Bait stations typically contain a liquid or a peanut butter–like substance mixed with a poison. Using a bait station is as simple as opening it up and placing it where you have seen roaches. The best ones have translucent tops that let you monitor the status of the bait. The downsides of bait stations are that they take up a lot more space than thở a small squirt of gel or a light dusting of powder, and they can’t be placed directly in a cockroach crack. Texas A&M recommends (PDF) using “at least one bait station within 1 to lớn 2 feet of every suspected cockroach harborage.” If you have a lot of roaches, this could lead to lớn a floor that looks more lượt thích a bait-station minefield.
Gels and powders are good too. These baits are similar in that they’re a food mixed with a slow-acting toxin. But they can be placed in a more-targeted and discreet way, making them standard methods in the professional pest-control industry. Gels and powders can be applied directly into the crack or crevice that the roach is living in, thus taking advantage of roach behavior. “Cockroaches are lazy, they’ll eat the first thing they come across,” Koehler said. Bait stations are much easier to lớn use, but we also have recommendations for gels and powders.
We researched all of the commonly available bait stations, gels, and dusts. We made an initial assessment of each one based on company reputation, user feedback, cost, availability, and a general sense of the features. We then tested the most promising candidates.
We looked at usability, not efficacy. Based on what our experts told us, all of the most common active ingredients should be effective at killing roaches. However, by going hands-on with a wide range of the available roach remedies, we were able to lớn discover which products were easiest to lớn handle, monitor, store, and use.
As with any insecticide, handle these products with care. We looked at the Safety Data Sheets of the tested products and did not have any alarm-raising concerns. These products are not classified as hazardous by OSHA. However, it’s always a good idea to lớn take common-sense precautions with placement and use—especially if you have pets and kids in the home page.
Our pick: Terro T500 Multi-Surface Roach Baits
If you’ve cleaned up and are still seeing roaches, we think the easiest, most secure way to lớn tackle the problem is to lớn use the Terro T500 Multi-Surface Roach Baits. Like many similar models, these baits combine a mixture of food with a tiny amount of poison (abamectin), and they should attract and kill roaches. We found Terro’s version easier to lớn use and more versatile than thở the other roach baits we tried. And these baits are often found in brick-and-mortar stores, so sánh you can make a quick purchase.
The Terro bait station is easy to lớn monitor. The clear top provides an easy view into the enclosure, so sánh you can see how much bait is remaining and when it’s time to lớn replace an empty station. Without this, it’s impossible to lớn see whether the bait station is even effective. We lượt thích that the entire top of the bait station is see-through, so sánh this monitoring can be done at a glance, even if the bait station is on the floor. Other models have the viewing window on the side, and that means the station needs to lớn be picked up in order to lớn be monitored. Most bait stations we looked at didn’t even have a way to lớn see inside at all.
They can be placed on a vertical surface. Each Terro bait station has a small adhesive pad, so sánh baits can be placed vertically on a wall or under a cabinet. That means you place them much closer to lớn where the roaches are living. This bait method is not as targeted as a powder or a gel—which can be applied directly into the crack or crevice where the roaches reside. But the Terro T500 bait station is far more versatile than thở stations that can be placed only on flat surfaces.
The Terro stations also don’t look half-bad. They’re not pieces of art, but they have rounded edges, and they’re compact (about the size of a fat book of matches). So they’re more discreet than thở the competition, especially compared with the Combat Roach Killing Baits.
They’re easily available. Finally, we lượt thích that the Terro bait stations can be found in some brick-and-mortar stores. Roach infestations usually can’t wait for a UPS delivery. So the Terro baits are often an option for an immediate purchase, if you want to lớn stop the problem before a small infestation turns into a big one.
Flaw but not dealbreakers
It’s tough to lớn place a lot of them. The primary downside to lớn the Terro stations is the same as with all enclosed bait stations: There are only so sánh many you can put out. For larger infestations, a gel or a powder is going to lớn offer more versatility with placement, thereby increasing the amount of bait that can be used. Start with the bait stations for one or two weeks, and if you’re not seeing any reduction in roach activity, Clark suggested it may be time to lớn switch to lớn a gel or a powder.
Runner-up: Advion 68663 Cockroach Bait Arena
We also lượt thích the Advion 68663 Cockroach Bait Arena. These baits share many of the best characteristics of the Terro T500 Multi-Surface Roach Baits. They’re roughly the same size, and they also have a see-through top, so sánh monitoring is not difficult. However, the Advion baits are only semi-translucent, so sánh they’re not as easy to lớn see into as the Terro T500 stations. The Advion baits also come with adhesive pads. So it’s simple to lớn place the baits close to lớn where roaches live, even if the area is located in a high-up spot.
They’re harder to lớn purchase. The biggest downside of the Advion baits is that they’re more difficult to lớn get at a moment’s notice. Advion typically caters to lớn the professional pest-control industry, so sánh its products are not often found in brick-and-mortar stores. Also, because this is a pro brand, these baits are available only in larger quantities. The smallest bag contains 12 baits, versus Terro’s six; the price per bait is roughly the same between the two.
Also great: Terro T502 Roach Bait Gel
If you’ve tried bait stations for a couple of weeks and they’re not doing the trick, we recommend moving to lớn a gel or powder. Gels can be dispensed directly into the crack or crevice where roaches are living; this targeted approach makes gels one of the preferred methods of professional contractors. The gel is sticky enough to lớn be stuck to lớn a vertical surface, which is an advantage a gel has over powders. Many gels are equally effective, but we found that the Terro T502 Roach Bait Gel was the easiest to lớn use.
It’s all about the applicator. Most roach gels come in a giant plastic syringe, but Terro’s T502 gel is very different. It comes in a can, with a large side lever that dispenses the gel. Additionally, the nozzle twists to lớn adjust the rate of flow. Of the gels we tested, the Terro gel was clearly the easiest to lớn dispense. It’s especially handy if you’re using it at arm’s length, possibly in a tight spot.
The downside is that it’s just messier than thở a bait station. Like all gels, the Terro gel remains exposed after application, so sánh it can be goopy if you brush up against it. And having it out in the open might not be best for homes with pets or small kids.
Also great: Combat Max Roach Killing Gel
If the Terro gel is not available, we also lượt thích Combat Max Roach Killing Gel. It should be similar in effectiveness to lớn the Terro gel, but it comes in a big plastic syringe. It works fine, but we found the Terro gel to lớn be better for finesse and accuracy. Still, the Combat gel is a reliable product with wide availability and a relatively low price.
Also great: Terro T530 Roach Bait Powder
No powder or gel is as neat as using a bait station. But in certain situations, lượt thích a high-traffic area, a powder will be less messy than thở a gel. Of the powders we tested, the Terro T530 Roach Bait Powder was the easiest to lớn apply. Each small container holds roughly 150 bait applications. That means it’s easy to lớn bait in a lot of places at once.
Like the gel applicator, the Terro powder applicator is well designed and easy to lớn use. The Terro powder comes in a pump bottle with a 2-inch adjustable nozzle that can dispense a minuscule amount of powder (1/16 teaspoon) into a pile, down a crack, or right up against a surface, such as a baseboard. Other powders came in larger squeeze bottles that were more difficult to lớn dispense, and we always ended up puffing out too much. Powder dusters are also available, but that’s a separate purchase and an added expense.
It’s not as contained as a bait station. Like the gels, powder remains exposed once applied. This may be fine in some situations, such as if you’re puffing it directly into a crack. But if you’re just putting little piles of dust around, pets and kids could come into liên hệ with it.
Things that don’t work
The products above, and even the ones in the Competition section, will all work. But there are other widely available products that can make your roach problem worse—or even blow up your home page.
Instant-kill aerosol sprays are available in brick-and-mortar stores and even drug stores. But the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program says they “may also repel and disperse cockroaches to lớn other areas of the building from which they may return later.” The same article notes that, “Sprays should not be necessary if a [pest-management] program is followed that uses sanitation, exclusion, and appropriate baits and dusts.”
Another category we dismissed without testing: total release foggers (aka bug bombs), lượt thích the Harris Indoor Fogger. These are activated in an unoccupied room on the theory that the space fills with insecticide and kills off the roaches. Koehler explained that because there is little to lớn no air circulation in the small spaces where roaches reside, the insecticide won’t reach them. Even worse, as Koehler explained, is that there have been cases where people haven’t properly sized the amount to lớn the room size, leading them to lớn mix off multiple bug bombs. Unfortunately, butane is often used as a propellant in the aerosol cans. “If you put off enough butane in a room, for instance if you bởi that in your kitchen and the refrigerator cycles on and you have a spark, you can blow the place up.” (The EPA outlines safety precautions for total release foggers in this article.) As if that’s not bad enough, Koehler also pointed out, “If you blow up your house, the cockroaches are still going to lớn be there.”
We’ve already covered things that don’t work. But the products in this section, based on their active ingredients, have the potential to lớn be effective. They’re just not our first choice for a variety of features, including user-friendliness, ease of application, availability, and other factors. If you find one of these products and are okay with the caveats noted, any would be fine to lớn try—especially if you are rotating through multiple bait types and one listed below sounds more suitable for your needs.
The Hot Shot Ultra Liquid Roach Bait has a viewing window, but it’s on the side of the bait station, so sánh it’s harder to lớn kiểm tra. This bait station doesn’t come with any kind of adhesive pad, so sánh it can be placed on a flat surface only, making it much more limiting than thở our picks.
Terro T360 Ant and Roach Baits are a single-unit combination of Terro’s roach bait with its extremely successful ant bait. Unfortunately, the roach part of the container is opaque, which prevents monitoring. It’s also larger than thở the standalone units and doesn’t come with an adhesive pad. Our recommendations would be to lớn treat each insect separately, so sánh you can place the bait stations in the best locations.
The Hot Shot MaxAttrax Roach Killing Powder is lượt thích many other powders in that its active ingredient is boric acid. This is a highly effective toxin for ant control, and it likely works fine for roaches. The downside is that these products come in large bottles that are much more difficult to lớn use than thở the Terro T530 Roach Bait Powder’s bottle.
In our experience, Harris Roach Gel is harder to lớn find in brick-and-mortar stores than thở our gel picks.
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Our experts recommend using roach traps—such as the iconic Black Flag Roach Motel and the Terro T256 Roach Magnet—only as a monitoring tool. “Put them around where you think you have a problem. See if you trap more in one area than thở another area,” Clark said. And then put out your baits. With larger infestations, traps can be a useful tool, but don’t expect them to lớn solve your problem on their own.
Insect growth regulators, lượt thích the Control Solutions Tekko Pro Insect Growth Regulator, are products that sterilize cockroaches, thus preventing them from reproducing. Though effective, this process takes much more time than thở using baits. Koehler told us that “for German cockroaches, which is the fastest-reproducing cockroach, it would take about six months for the population to lớn be reduced. It’s a long-term process.”
This article was edited by Harry Sawyers.