DEAR MIKE: My home is being overrun. Since the weather is getting warmer, I have noticed a large increase in ants and roaches. I must kill them. Tell me how. -- James A.
DEAR JAMES: You scare me. I have an image of you dressed in military fatigues with bushes tied around your head as you slither across the kitchen floor hunting for cockroaches. This won't get rid of them, but there are plenty of insecticides that will.
First, let me say this to any bug-loving citizen out there who may consider writing to tell me what a despicable person I am for wanting to get rid of any of God's creatures: I do not hate roaches and ants, they are just not welcome in my home. Enough said.
Bugs have been around forever and will continue to thrive. We can only hope to keep them away from our homes and maybe into someone else's.
You can buy a variety of insecticides that are relatively safe. I would discourage you from using a spray insecticide and covering your house with it. Small children and pets can be at risk from insecticides in all forms. Whatever type you choose, make sure you read the label as to placement. Some should only be used outside.
A general tip for getting rid of bugs is to get rid of their food and water (this also applies to unwelcome in-laws). This means repair any drips or leaks, and keep damp sponges or dishrags in a container (I know this sounds extreme). Remove any crumbs of food from the pantry, shelves and under the stove. Keep pet food in a container and keep the pet dish off of the ground.
You will first need to do some investigating. As much as you want to just squash a column of ants, follow their trail and find out where they are going to and coming from. You want to find their nest.
If the nest is outside, you can apply an insecticide directly onto it. If the nest is inside of a wall, you have to get crafty. Wet locations offer a "target-rich environment." Bugs like water, so check under sinks and in bathrooms.
A good all-around insecticide is boric acid powder. This powder is fairly safe and is easy to apply in small cracks.
Go under your sinks and apply the insecticide. You also want to sprinkle the powder into the wall where bugs may be hiding.
Follow the sink drain past the trap where the drainpipe enters the wall. You can drill a one-eighth inch hole in this vicinity and squirt some powder into the hole. A nasal aspirator from a drug store works well.
Another good hiding place is near the bathtub. You can remove the overflow plate on the tub and squirt some insecticide in between the overflow gasket and the tub. This will get the insecticide in the cavity between the tub and the wall.
For bugs hiding in the walls in other locations, you can drill more small holes, but you will have to patch them later on.
You can also spray some powder at electrical outlets. Turn off the power to these outlets and then remove the cover plates. Stay away from the wiring and look to the bottom of the box. If there isn't a gap between the bottom of the box and the drywall, you can make one with a drywall saw and insert some powder (don't use a liquid spray near the outlets). The cover plate will cover the gap.
You can also place bait along the trail. Ant or roach bait works the same. The bug brings the poison back to the nest and it poisons the colony. Place the bait where you see the bugs. You will notice that after you have placed the bait, the column will get thinner and thinner until it dwindles to none.
Roaches won't march in a column like ants, but you can still set bait out where you see them.