Why is Cockroach Bait the Best Choice?

By Chris Williams on January 28, 2015.

Many years ago when I moved into my first apartment in Holden, exterminators always sprayed for cockroaches. Now it seems like they all use bait. Why are baits supposed to be better than sprays—because we still have cockroaches? R. N., Holden, MA

cockroach feeding on bait gel

American cockroach feeding on bait gel

It’s true that professionals now rely on cockroach baiting to control German cockroaches for several very good reasons:

Baits reduce risks

In my mind, the number one reason to use baits rather than sprays is that there is no pesticide vapor in the air (and no odor). After a cockroach treatment, you don’t have to worry about inhaling solvents or toxins. Baits are also applied in out-of-the-way places so people have less direct contact with insecticide. Baits can be used around infants, the ill or elderly, and other sensitive individuals without concern.

Cockroach baits are effective

One of the reasons that the pest control industry switched to the use of baits was insecticide resistance. Sprays had been used (and misused) for such a long time against cockroaches that many were no longer effective. To be fair, there has been limited resistance to some baits, but not nearly at the same level as with sprays.

Cockroach baits last longer

Gel baits are applied in cracks and crevices where cockroaches hide (that’s another reason why they are so effective). Because the baits are in protected places and not on surfaces, they are not subject to degradation by air movement or by cleaning of surfaces.

Bait applications are easier for residents

You might remember the old days, more than 25 years ago, when exterminators came in and sprayed kitchen baseboards, countertop edges, and the inside of cabinets. You were required to remove everything from your kitchen cabinets so the technician could have easy access–a horrendous job that is no longer necessary with baits. Hardly anyone would choose to go back to those good old days.

As to why you still have cockroaches, there are many possible reasons, most of which point to ineffective bait application: too little bait applied, bait not replaced often enough, or not placed in the right places. Sometimes bait alone cannot deal with a heavy cockroach population. When we walk into an apartment with a really heavy cockroach infestation, we often do an initial treatment that includes an insecticide crack and crevice spray application. Afterwards, when cockroaches are at a manageable level, we can control them effectively with a scheduled baiting program.

For more on the use of baits for cockroach control, check these blogs:

Photo: Termiteman [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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