Please Explain: Cockroaches

Friday, January 30, 2009

Nearly a third of all NYC households are infested with cockroaches. We find out all about roaches, and why they’re among the hardiest species on the planet! Urban entomology specialist Eric P. Benson is a professor at Clemson University; Richard Cooper of Cooper Pest Solutions says he has a “passion” for cockroaches and ways to kill them.


Eric P. Benson and Richard Cooper

Comments [51]

Ken from Soho

Boric acid powder will kill cockroaches, as explained on the show. A question was asked about its toxicity to pets; I don't know about pets, but it's toxic to humans if taken internally. The Merck Index says that death has occurred from less than 5 grams in infants, and from 5 to 20 grams in adults.

Jan. 30 2009 02:09 PM
Sara Suman from Brooklyn, NY

I think Citrus is the solution, perhaps our guests where unwilling to answer that because it would put them out of business! Check out Orange Guard, active ingredient is orange peel extract, I spray this around my cat's food area, and it's effective that I have only used it once!!!

Jan. 30 2009 01:59 PM
Danny from East Village

More on Chinese Roach Chalk: the instruction sheet that came packaged with it was quite a hoot. They instructed you to use it to draw lines "around the legs of your food cabinet" and "around the garbage pile". It kills "cockroach and ant, louse and lice."

Jan. 30 2009 01:59 PM

I heard that powdered bay leaves work and are non toxic. Myth or reality?

Jan. 30 2009 01:59 PM
Steveh from

Years ago I read that that Boric Acid inhibits their ability to absorb moisture. Whenever I've used it the effect is excellent. The don't come back

Jan. 30 2009 01:57 PM
rachel from nyc

Your guests have dedicated a large part of their lives to these gross little guys. Do they have any problem coming on the show talking about all the different ways to anhililate them? Do they hold a soft spot for the roaches?

Jan. 30 2009 01:56 PM
Liz from Brooklyn, NY

I've found that the most effective remedy for a cockroach infestation is a cat. It's horrible to watch a cat play with the roach, and you find their parts in the most unusual places, but at least they're not crawling around my apartment!

Also, coming from Canada, I'd never see a cockroach until I moved to New York. Is this simply a matter of temperature, or does it involve sanitary conditions as well?

Jan. 30 2009 01:55 PM
Brie from greenpoint

after months of a growing cockroach problem, I realized that they were nesting in my toaster. so i shook it out, cleaned out the crumbs, i still had roaches. one day i had just had enough, so I threw out the toaster. no more roaches.

Jan. 30 2009 01:55 PM
Victor from Manhattan

Which are harder to eradicate from an apartment -- cockroaches or bedbugs?

Jan. 30 2009 01:55 PM
Danny from East Village

What ever happened to Chinese Roach Chalk? You used to be able to buy it in Chinatown. I heard rumors that it was found to be dangerous to humans and/or pets, but never got the final story.

Jan. 30 2009 01:55 PM
nicole from astoria

can you shed some light on the influx of bed bugs, we've eradicated them 2 years ago and they seem to have come back, it's been a battle getting rid of them, any suggestions? thanks!

Jan. 30 2009 01:54 PM
Victor from Manhattan

I've seen the foggers work.

About 10 years ago I rented an apartment building on the UWS that had a severe cockroach infestation (they were crawling up the walls and dropping from the ceiling, even during daylight hours). Before moving in, I used a fogger then waited about a week to move in my belongings. Almost all the roaches were killed, so that the apartment was essentially clear when I moved in.

I subsequently used boric acid for maintenance and had very few problems in that apartment.

Jan. 30 2009 01:54 PM

I lived in a revoltingly infested sublet for five months and managed to eradicate the roaches, but only after 3 or 4 months of cleaning cleaning cleaning, setting traps and squeezing gel into cracks, and sprinkling boric acid (watch out though if you have pets). Keep in mind that if you've used roach bombs or sprays in the past, as the original tenant of this apartment had, there will be roach carcasses all over behind the bookshelves and so on. Clean those up! I recommend vacuuming. Vacuuming can also be a very satisfying way to get the live ones (then vacuum up a little pile of boric acid powder so they won't just crawl out again!).

Jan. 30 2009 01:53 PM
Jenny from Crown Heights

Diatramatic (sp?) Earth works really well.

Jan. 30 2009 01:52 PM
Betty Anne from UES

Can you ask about baking soda? Someone told me to put it down in my cupboards.

Jan. 30 2009 01:50 PM
Michael from Brooklyn

I lived in Savannah, GA for 8 years and they had HUGE flying roaches that would fly at you. The city is infested and it seemed nothing would get rid of them. On a hot summer night you would see them running everywhere on the sidewalks. You just got used to them and everyone referred to them politely as "Palmetto bugs."

Jan. 30 2009 01:50 PM
Denise from Chelsea, manhattan, ny

I work in the basement of a gallery in Chelsea, and we use to have a really bad cockroach problem. They use to live in my cardboard pile, because it was located in a corner of the basement that is more damp. What I want to know is why do I always find the dead ones in the middle of the room on the floor, upside-down, if they really would prefer to be hidden? What is it that makes them come out in the open, just to die?

Jan. 30 2009 01:50 PM
Andrew from Brooklyn

I am moving to Brooklyn in March.

What sort of evidence can I look out for to ensure that a potential apartment is not infested or has very little infestation?

Also, before I move in, are there things that I can do to lessen the chance of cockroach infestations? (Besides keeping my apt clean)

Jan. 30 2009 01:50 PM
Lisa from Tyringham, MA

We moved to a newly built house in the country and brought our cockroaches with us. We think we got rid of all of them and now that it is winter we are not seeing them. Will they show up again during the summer? If so, why are we not seeing them now?

Jan. 30 2009 01:49 PM
Carol from Manhattan

How can you tell a female from a male cockroach? How long can they reproduce and how long does it take for eggs to hatch and approx how many eggs can hatch out of one pouch?

Jan. 30 2009 01:49 PM
Mark from New Jersey

I'm turning off the radio now ...

Jan. 30 2009 01:49 PM
James from Brooklyn

I lived in Greenpoint in 2006-2007 and we had what I thought were "Asian Flying Cockroaches" They would crawl up the OUTSIDE of the building and in the windows. They were HUGE! and they flew and they made me want to jump out of my skin. They seemed fearless of light, noise, my cats and all poisons. What is the deal!?

Jan. 30 2009 01:48 PM
News today from Brooklyn

The exact point I turned the radio off was at "parlor games" I could not take it anymore!

I must go take that silkwood shower NOW!

Jan. 30 2009 01:48 PM
Rose from Brooklyn

I've always thought they seemed kind of smart. Several times I've been charged by a roach I was about to step on (once by a Palmetto bug in FL and once by a tree roach in Texas).

Jan. 30 2009 01:46 PM
Bo from Brooklyn - Prospect Heights

We had a horrific infestation in our Prospect Heights apartment for years...until we got a cat. No more cockroaches. And it was an overnight change. One day we had them...the next: GONE.

Jan. 30 2009 01:45 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I had a serious cockroach infestation some years ago, & a lot of them were a light brown. Is this a kind of albinism? I haven't seen the light-colored ones in a long time, although unfortunately I can't say the same for the regular dark brown ones.

I used diatomaceous earth to control the infestation. It didn't get rid of all of them, but it did make things a lot better. And it's nontoxic to children & pets. Wasn't easy to find a store that carried it, though.

Jan. 30 2009 01:45 PM
Denice from Brooklyn

We have an exterminator come and spray our apartment every month and the roaches refuse to leave our apartment. How do we get rid of them? Should we try one of those chemical foggers? It seems like they're always finding another place to hide. I especially hate that they hide in electric appliances - you can't imagine how many coffee makers I've gone through.

Jan. 30 2009 01:45 PM
G Green from NYC

Are there any natural predators? Are they better to have around?

Jan. 30 2009 01:44 PM
jim from nj

I hove found diplomacy works best for getting rid of cockroaches. You have to talk to their leader(s). Honest, I have found it effective.

Jan. 30 2009 01:44 PM
olivier from bklyn

what is, if any the corollation of the name of the tropics, capricorn and cancer? Are they scarabs?

Jan. 30 2009 01:43 PM
Alexis from Greenpoint

I saw a large black roach in my apartment and my landlord said 'oh, that's not a roach, its a waterbug'.
What is the difference?
He seemed to think it was an isolated event and those live outside and would not nest indoors.
Is this ture or is he just trying to avoid exterminator?

Jan. 30 2009 01:43 PM
Ed Lewit from Long Island

Can cockeroaches hear? and are they sensitive to be driven away by sound?

Jan. 30 2009 01:42 PM
Rose from Brooklyn

Cockroaches seem intelligent for an insect. Several times I've had a Palmetto Bug/Tree Roach (the Florida/Texas version of the Waterbug?) fly/run towards me when cornered. Did the bug understand that I would run away if he charged me?

Jan. 30 2009 01:39 PM
Joe from Englewood, nj

Is it true that Cockroaches are the only animal with different chromosome numbers between males and females?

Jan. 30 2009 01:38 PM

Do they serve any purpose in the ecology?

Jan. 30 2009 01:37 PM
j from new york

We were terrorized for about a year, but what finally worked for us was putting down Boric Acid and drying out our kitchen/getting rid of all water. We had a leak we didn't know about, and when it was fixed, they vanished.

Jan. 30 2009 01:35 PM
Peter Muller from Queens

THIS IS THE ONE that will ALWAYS work as an insecticide: diatomaceous earth. The description I saved years ago from a web page (it was discussing the product as marketed by EcoSafe, and was sold in health stores):

"Natural diatomaceous earth (DE for short) is the remains of microscopic one-celled plants (phytoplankton) called diatoms that lived in the oceans that once covered the western part of the United States and other parts of the world. Huge deposits were left behind when the water receded. They are now mined and have several important uses in toothpaste, beer filtering, and swimming pool filters. DE is approximately 3% magnesium, 86% silicon, 5% sodium, 2% iron and many other trace minerals such as titanium, boron, manganese, copper and zirconium.

"Natural DE also makes a very effective natural insecticide. The insecticidal quality of DE is due to the razor sharp edges of the diatom remains. When DE comes contact with the insects, the sharp edges lacerate the bugs' waxy exoskeleton and then the powdery DE absorbs the body fluids causing death from dehydration. Said more simply, DE kills insects by drying then up. You'll see how drying DE is if you handle it with bare hands."

Hope this helps everyone looking for a effective and non-toxic solution to get rid of insects! I always just sprinkle it along walls and in corners, which allows the insects to pick it up with their legs and bring it back to the lair, where it gets on the others, and -- I don't see them again a while later (at least not alive)!

Jan. 30 2009 01:35 PM
judy from NYC

Those gigantic flying roaches are alive and well on the upper west side. UGH!

Jan. 30 2009 01:33 PM
KC from Manhattan

The professional pest control lobbyists have gotten to our Albany lawmakers and have made it illegal for individual consumers to purchase effective pest control substances through the mail. Why? There is a product on the market called MaxForce with two distinct chemical formulations that have eliminated roaches where I live. I buy (illegally) from a company in Plano, Texas.

Jan. 30 2009 01:33 PM
David from Paris, France

Just catching the show now.

Is it true that stepping on a cockroach only causes them to squeeze out their eggs in toothpaste tube style.

So you kill one but end up with X more.



Jan. 30 2009 01:30 PM
chuck from lower manhattan

The ones Gene is missing must have moved to my neighborhood. Dawns on me there are more roaches hearing this program than people in all likelihood.

Jan. 30 2009 01:23 PM
hjs from 11211

also as terri 2 said they fly and come around in the summer
i put down boric acid and now i find them dead in the morning and have fewer.

Jan. 30 2009 01:22 PM
Alex from Brooklyn

How do you effectively destroy a nest? My girlfriend's apartment is rather tidy, aside from the roaches. We've tried boric acid, numerous raid products, glue traps, and the exterminator (when he choose to come). The roaches disappear for brief periods, but always seem to return within a matter of 1-2 weeks. I see baby's all the time. It's bizarre considering she's on the top floor of her building. The only food that is ever left out is cat food. We put everything in the fridge and wash the dishes compulsively. It's gotten to a point where we start seeing things that aren't there. I always fear stepping on one in the dark. Anyway, What are some of the major health risks caused by roaches? And what methods (aside from fumigation, considering the cat) can be used to kill those bastards? The building management company seems to not care so long as the exterminator comes around and puts a bandaid on the problem.

Jan. 30 2009 01:22 PM
janice from sparta from sparta NJ

i couldnt drink from this cup!

Jan. 30 2009 01:09 PM
hjs from 11211

my roommate and I argue over whether or not those giant water bugs (that's what I call them) are cockroaches or not. they seem to come up from the pipes and turn up in the bathroom every once in a while.
we decided they might be in the same family but they aren't those smaller nasty food eating bugs that some people get. are we right?

Jan. 30 2009 01:09 PM
antonio from park slope

Do those sonar-like devices that you plug into your outlets actually repel them? If so why?

Jan. 30 2009 01:04 PM
Douglas from Midtown

I have heard that if you step on or squash a coackroach that happens to be carrying eggs, the eggs will splatter out and still hatch. Please tell me this is incorrect.

Jan. 30 2009 01:03 PM

What happened to all the cockroaches??

It used to be a fact of NYC life, yet I haven't seen one in ages.

I live in an old-time 25' x 100' 1907 tenement, not terribly well-maintained; mice come in once in awhile--but not roaches, anymore. I haven't seen them in others' apts. either.

Jan. 30 2009 12:32 PM
Franz K from Brooklyn

For each roach you see how many more are there that you can't see? Is there a ratio that you could estimate? Like if you see one roach there are 17 more you can't see.

Jan. 30 2009 12:10 PM
Terri Ann from Ithaca, NY

A couple of years ago, when I lived in the Ditamrs Blvd section of Astoria, near Astoria Park, our apartment had a summertime problem with what I called "giant flying cockroaches". They were hideous and horrifying and tormented me all summer long. Were they really cockroaches? Or waterbugs? Is that the same thing?

Jan. 30 2009 10:12 AM
j from nyc

my super has this amazing stuff [as far as i'm concerned unless i'm in otherwise mortal danger] that he put behind the wall holes in my kitchen from the gas stove connections, and the cockroaches lose their ability to perceive danger and walk out into the middle of a room, where they flip onto their backs and die.
If they're still alive, but slow, i've crushed them with a paper napkin or tissue, and whatever that stuff is seems to have melted their insides. i have also resorted to using a portable vacuum cleaning with the long arm extension to get them when they go into hard-to-reach places. it felt really good.

Jan. 30 2009 02:28 AM

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