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Cockroach bait is a form of pest control that uses a palatable base to attract roaches to eat poison, and distribute it throughout the colony. Baits are considered one of the most effective methods of destroying a cockroach population. Because poison is involved, it is always best to first try to clear up a roach infestation by eliminating any water sources, or unsanitary conditions that could be attracting them. However, if such methods are not effective, cockroach bait may be the best option.
Cockroaches are one of the most common, and most successful pests, and in many people's opinion, one of the most unpleasant. There are about 3,500 species worldwide, and cockroaches have existed in some form for 300 million years. Most cockroach species prefer a warm, humid environment, and they may infest hidden areas or crevices inside a home.
In addition to cockroach bait, insecticidal sprays are also available, but they tend to disperse the cockroach population. Since roaches are attracted to bait rather than repelled by it, it is much more effective than sprays in controlling a roach infestation. Commercial cockroach bait can be expensive, so attempting to control an infestation first with sanitary practices, and limited pesticide application in crevices and behind cabinets is recommended.
Commercial cockroach bait products come in three varieties: bait stations, bait gels, and granular baits. Bait stations are also called traps, though they do not trap the roaches. They contain the bait and poison inside a small plastic or cardboard station that the roach can enter and leave.
Bait gels are preferred by pest control professionals because they are accessible to greater numbers of roaches, since the youngest roaches can eat gels, but not the solid food in many bait traps. In addition, they are moist, which also helps attract roaches. Bait gels may come in an applicator syringe or in cartridges to be inserted in a separately purchased syringe. Granular roach baits are for use outdoors, and in attics and crawl spaces. Though contact insecticide powder should be watered to spread it throughout the soil, it is important not to water granular bait, or place it during rainy weather, as it will ruin the product.
In addition to the many commercial cockroach bait products available, it is also possible, and cheaper, to make your own. Wearing gloves, mix together nine ounces of boric acid, available at a drug store, with 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup oil or lard, 1/2 cup minced onion, and 1/4 cup sugar. Adding a little water if necessary, roll small balls out of the mixture to place as bait. Extra bait can be refrigerated in a tightly sealed plastic bag, but make sure it is not accessible to children, and that it is clearly marked and kept separately from food. Wash your hands thoroughly after making and placing roach bait.
When using any kind of cockroach bait, there are some important things to keep in mind. First and foremost, make sure you do not place where children or pets can come into contact with it. For maximum effectiveness, though it may seem counter-intuitive, choose a bait with a low amount of poison so that roaches have time to infect other members of the colony before they die. Finally, do not place cockroach bait in an area you have previously treated with insecticide, as the insecticide will repel the roaches, and prevent them from eating the bait.