Fighting the cockroach war

Initially published March 14, 2005

There are many tactics of taking out cockroaches. Having been apart of the early wave of gentrification in the Baltimore ghetto, I lived and fought this war within a roach infested building. This building was eventually transformed into a beautiful living space/taekwondo school. But when we first started, the roaches lived there and we needed them out. My sister forced us to limit our tactics to non-toxic pest control since her daughter (Ui-seng) was only 4 months old then and willing to stick everything into her mouth.  No roach bombs were allowed to be utilized.

The roaches were EVERYWHERE

While we were doing construction on the building, I still remember waking up in a panic with roaches crawling over my face and into my ear.  Images of Chekov in the Star Trek II movie flashed in my mind as I dug the bug out of my ear.  I had made the mistake of sleeping next to my check book box  A quick Web search then taught me that roaches eat cardboard glue.  Next thing we did was dump every bit of cardboard from our building.

The roaches take round 1

Non-toxic tactic failure one:  Boric Acid and Citrus spray.

Going to those green web sites on pest control, they suggested both.  I spent hours spraying that stuff everywhere.  I even dumped boric acid powder on top of one poor cockroach which seemed to cause it nothing but slight discomfort.

I still remember running around the building spraying the citrus spray at the cockroaches seeing it do nothing but be a minor irritant.  Friends like Rick and Rex who came to visit us and politely chose not to spend the night with us probably have fond memories of holding a conversation with me while I rudely jumped up cursing and started running around the room spraying citrus spray.

Alas round 2 also goes to the roaches


The first time I went to the basement of our building, I was freaked out!  I mean usually, cockroaches run away from you when you turn on the light of the room.  These thumb sized monsters didn’t budge.  When going down the steps of the basement, it was almost like going into the insect house of the zoo where they showed the HUGE cockroaches, only these roaches weren’t inside a glass box!  On top of that, there seemed to be hundreds of these big monsters.  A friend suggested backing powder so I went to our local Save-A-Lot (the ghetto grocery store) and bought 5 boxes of backing soda and dumped it everywhere in the basement.  I then left the basement for the evening.

Walking in to the basement the following morning, I felt like I was walking into a holocaust.  Those thumb sized cockroaches were everywhere on the ground, only they had imploded with their guts everywhere!  In a sense, I wondered what sins might be added to my soul as I caused the torturous deaths of so many roaches in that one night…  The ghastly image of hundreds of blown up cockroaches all over the floor will always be etched in my mind.

I take victory in round 3

The knockout blow…

The backing soda did its job on the big suckers, but now the roaches were acting like normal roaches in a house.  You would see them there, you knew they were there, but they were small and were scared.  They were still everywhere, but only the small ones were left.  I was still trying the citrus spray, boric acid and backing soda with dead ones turning up, but they still didn’t leave us alone.

A visit to a Taiwanese family friend who runs a restaurant gave us the “final solution”  Biological warfare was needed.  He showed me his secret.  A roach gel which at the time, you can only get from whole sale pest control dealers.  COMBAT roach gel with Fibronil.  What is Fibronil?

Well, the key is to understand the evolutionary masterpieces of the cockroaches.  All cockroaches are hermaphrodites.  Thus, they can maximize their breeding potential.  If there are 20 cockroaches, they will always have 10 couples thus maximizing their broods.  On top of that, they eat EVERYTHING.  Especially the corpses of dead cockroaches.  Though I thought I had won round 3 by blowing up the big huge cockroaches with backing soda, what I had actually done is create food for their young ones thus explaining why though I was dumping backing soda all over the place and they were still getting blown up, they still stuck around since they had food everywhere.

Fibronil will make cockroaches sick.  They will then hang out with their buds and make their buds sick.  After they all get sick, they will eventually die.  If their kids eat them as most
assuredly they will, the kids get sick also.

Thus, with the biological agent of Fibronil, the brood of cockroaches in our now finished renovated building was finally killed off.

Final victory, Tim Chng takes it, though the roaches fought back hard, they have been out of our building for the past 5 years.  If the roaches dare to face us again, I will be ready and armed with the knowledge and experience of this past war!


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