Healthy Living

Eco Confession: I Used Pesticides (& Lived)

cockroach on white backgroundIf you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I hate pesticides, and that I’m not a huge fan of toxic chemical cleaners, either. I prefer naturally formulated, eco and organic products whenever possible. Yes, I’m the eco geek that bans triclosan like the plague and DIYed my own gnat traps with wine and non-toxic dish soap. Until now.

I tried to embrace eco roach traps, but after two days I caved: The woman better known as Mommy Greenest resorted to using pesticides. Forgive me? Last week, I opened the door to my darkened bathroom, flipped on the light, and spied an enormous cockroach perched on my medicine cabinet, staring me down.

As background, you should know that I grew up in a rickety old house in a Los Angeles canyon. My back yard opened onto a wildlife preserve. Coyotes lined up to howl on our ridge each night, and raccoons washed their food in our cat’s water bowl. My dad calmed my fears of the copious giant black spiders by telling me Native American stories of how they lead people to safety in emergencies. Each week the cat killed a giant rat and set it outside my bedroom window so it was the first thing I saw when I woke up; there was often a mouse running across the floor when I went down to the kitchen for breakfast.

The point being: I am no stranger to wildlife.

But this bug was something different. I’ve encountered these cockroaches before—the last time, he took up residence in my closet. They can grow to be about three inches long and half as wide.

And they fly. At. You.

So I screamed. A high-pitched squeal for my husband that came from god knows where but would be at home in a 1950s sitcom. I ran out of the room as he ran in—but the bug was gone. And after seeing it again in the bathroom—and screaming—for the next two nights, I needed to take serious steps.

First, I researched eco roach traps made from boric acid and sugar. But here’s the phrase that caught my eye: “Expect at least 3 cycles of disappearance/reemergence of progressively smaller hordes of cockroaches, lasting about 2 weeks each. Continue using boric acid till roaches are gone.”

Um, no. I needed the cockroaches gone—not diminishing. So I bought a pesticide-heavy roach trap.  I set it on top of the cabinet where I knew my kids couldn’t get to it. Then I turned off the light and shut the door, hoping that the bug would return, lured by the scent. Then he’d eat the stuff, head back to his lair to share it with his buggy friends, and die.

I’m sorry, cockroach. I’m sorry, insectophiliacs (yes, that is a word). I’m even more sorry, pesticide-phobics. But it worked. I haven’t seen the bug since.

Forgive me?


    • Rachel Sarnoff

      I don’t know about spraying, don’t you inhale that? But this is like a solid cake of…um…pesticide. So hopefully not too bad!!

  • Ellen DeFrancesco

    OMG I’m laughing because I’m so eco-friendly too and tried everything but couldn’t get rid of my ants. I felt terrible but went to the store and bought all the pesticides I could find and sprayed my first floor. It worked but I do feel guilty.

    • Rachel Sarnoff

      Have you tried red pepper flakes? Those are supposed to be amazing. I’ve tried them for small amounts of ants but have never had an infestation…!

  • alan

    Geckos (and Iguanas) are natural predators of roaches. You could purchase a few geckos and let them take up residence with you. They are kind of cute.

  • Adrienne

    I am vegan and as eco friendly as possible. I have an “out clause” for roaches. In NYC, no matter how clean your apt is, it’s every man, woman & bug for themselves. I can’t even count on my cats – once I found a roach just chillin in between them, all hanging out like they were friends. I feel you.

    • Rachel Sarnoff

      You just made me laugh so hard I spit out my tea. The image of the cats and the cockroach!!!! Thanks for making my afternoon, Adrienne. Please comment frequently 🙂

  • Sandi

    Ever since I started using vinegar, water and a couple drops of plant based dish soap to clean my kitchen, I haven’t had any trouble with bugs in my home! I also use an Eco friendly product to treat my yard. Very important to keep the bugs far, far away!

    • Rachel Sarnoff

      Awesome! I know, I totally clean my house with vinegar and have no problems at all. I think this bug was stalking me 🙂

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