About cockroach baits & bait stations
A quick breakdown of roach baits and bait stations
Cockroach bait stations are simple and straightforward products, the likes of which are used against all manners of other insect pests as well. They work on an ingenious principle – don’t kill the roach, but arm it with poison so that it can kill its own friends and children for you. The thing about roaches and other pesky insects such as termites is that they live in colonies. This means that even if you’re seeing just several roaches per night, you can easily have hundreds or even thousands of cockroaches living on your floor or walls.
Killing the roaches we see is easy – a simple shoe can do it – but it typically does nothing for solving the underlying problem as there are several new generations living in your walls, ready to start crawling in a day or two.
That’s why, roach baits and bait stations are so effective – unlike roach traps that trap and kill individual roaches, bait stations poison the roaches with a slow acting poison. By eating the bait the roaches doom themselves to death but they also get the poison on and in their bodies and transfer it back into their nests. And this is where the nasty part begins – all types of cockroaches practice communal cleaning, meaning that they clean each other. Additionally, young, old and weak cockroaches have the habit of eating the feces of other cockroaches. Plus, they also tend to eat the corpses of dead roaches. All this helps transfer the poison that the initial cockroach has consumed from the bait station throughout dozens or sometimes hundreds of other cockroaches.
Another way that cockroach bait stations sometimes work is that roaches can take entire chunks of the poisoned bait and bring that into their nests. This way a single cockroach can effectively wipe out thousands of other cockroaches.
This entire process is achieved by the 3 main components of a roach bait station:
The active ingredient (poison), the bait in which the active ingredient is placed, and a container for the bait that allows easy access for cockroaches.
The active ingredient can be a lot of things, but the two most common types of chemicals you’ll see are Fiprol or Fipronil and Hydramethylnon, depending on the specific bait manufacturer. The active ingredient largely determines what the roach bait station is intended against. A lot of bait stations are meant as wide-range products that target most or all types of common household cockroach species. This is a good thing if you have more than one type of cockroaches plaguing your home. If you are dealing with just one species, however, finding a bait station with an active ingredient that specifically targets said species can be your best bet.
The bait can be a lot of things – cockroaches aren’t generally known as picky eaters. This doesn’t mean that it’s insignificant, however, to the contrary – the bait is arguably the most important part of the whole item as it is what attracts the roaches to the poison. A good bait can attract cockroaches even if the bait station isn’t placed in the right place, while the wrong bait can even repel cockroaches from the bait station. This is also dependant on the type of cockroaches you have in your home as different species have different preferences.
Keep your home as clean as possible when using a roach bait station. Roaches feed on all types of dirt, so they don’t have a reason to use the roach bait if the entire floor is their buffet.
The station itself is nothing more than just a container for the roach bait. Still, it has an effect on how effective the whole product is. The container’s size determines where you’ll be able to place it with bigger containers not being able to fit in small places. If the container has adhesive to its backside this can allow you to place it on walls or other vertical surfaces which can also be convenient. Most importantly, however, the container must allow for an easy access for cockroaches and not block their way to the bait. So, while the container is arguably the least important of the three components of a roach bait station, it can still have a detrimental effect on the whole enterprise.
What alternative products can you use instead of roach bait stations?
Of course, roach bait stations aren’t the be-all end-all of roach killing. They have specific situations and uses that they are designed for and can be outclassed by other products in particular situations. Roach bait stations are generally intended for full-blown cockroach infestations where you’re certain that there is a nest or more in your home and simply trapping and killing several roaches isn’t going to deal with the problem.
If you’re seeing just several roaches occasionally and you are certain that they are just passing by and haven’t set up a colony in your home yet, you might consider something like roach repellents and sprays. Roach glue traps can also be something you can use – these methods kill individual roaches easily and cleanly without much of a mess.
Dry roach sprays or cockroach powders can also be used in a similar manner as roach bait stations – they apply an insecticide to key areas in your home. When roaches pass over them they get infected with the slow-acting insecticide and bring that infection to their nests. A dry roach spray can last from several weeks to several months, but roach bait stations are generally considered as a more heavy-duty alternative to dry roach sprays.
Alternatively, if you have a really severe cockroach infestation, you can consider roach bombs and foggers. They work on a completely different principle from roach bait stations and dry roach sprays. Roach bombs and foggers envelop entire rooms in heavy insecticidal fog. The fog is made in such a way that it goes into every small nook, crevice and crack and goes as deep as possible, hopefully reaching the roach nests and gassing them completely. The main drawback of this method is that you’re effective gassing your own home with poison. Another significant negative is that sometimes even the heaviest fogger can’t reach every roach nest and instead of killing all the roaches it scatters them around and can cause them to set up multiple new nests instead.
If neither roach bait stations nor bombs and foggers work sufficiently enough, there is also the option of calling a professional to help you out. Professional exterminators aren’t cheap and yes – they do use the same products you can buy yourself – but they have the expertise of using them correctly and to their fullest effect.
Roach bait and bait station buying guide
With that in mind, the best first step is usually to identify what types of cockroaches you’re dealing with exactly. This can seem tricky as there are more than 4000 species of cockroaches on the planet, but not all of them are common in households, so more often than not there are just a few variants. The best way to go about it is to set up roach traps (glue traps, for example) so that you can trap several of the pesky insects. Once that’s done, you can take several good photos of them and use those to consult with specialists online.
Once you’ve identified the exact type of the intruders, you can choose a product that’s intended for them specifically. Most people opt to skip this first step and simply buy a wide-range product that (claims to) exterminates all types of roaches, but for the best possible result, you’d be smart to choose a specialized product with the right active ingredient.
The type of cockroaches that is most often targeted by manufacturers with specialized products is the German roach. That’s because they are indeed known as the most stubborn and persistent common household roach species out there. There are other hard-to-kill types of cockroaches, however, such as Asian roaches, Oriental roaches, Brown roaches, and others. Targeting each of these species with a specialized product is often your best bet for dealing with the problem.
Choosing between multiple such products can also be challenging, however. There are a lot of additional factors you can and should consider:
- Am I going to need the product for a residential, commercial or storage area?
- Is the place where I’ll be using the product a food processing facility?
- Are there pets and small children where I intend to use the roach bait stations?
- How severe is the roach infestation? Roach bait stations are not the most effective option if you’re just seeing a few roaches per week.
- Would it be a problem if the product leaves a residue behind it or if it has an unpleasant odor about it?
- How much of the product would I need? How large of an area am I going to treat?
- How long do I intend to use the product for?
- Is the price a factor for me?
Answering all these questions will help you find the exact kind of product you need. After that, it’s all a matter of filtering the subpar products from those that are of a high enough quality. We mentioned price last as it’s usually inconsequential when it comes to roach bait stations – the price differences are not that significant and the effectiveness of the product usually takes priority.
Finding out which products are actually good and which should be avoided is its own bag of problems, of course. Pretty much any roach killing product is advertised as “The best thing since sliced bread”, so if you don’t want to go through a long and arduous process of trial and error, you’ll have to rely on user reviews and industry articles like this one.
User reviews can often be too subjective, inconsistent, incomplete and plain wrong, but reading enough of them is usually a good way to get a clear picture of whether a certain product has what it takes to help you out. Industry reviews, on the other hand, typically give you a more complete information about the product, but they can often be biased. Still, reading as many reviews from both types is usually your best bet for getting an idea of what you should choose. That, or simply contacting a professional.
Another last thing to keep in mind is the brand of the products you’re choosing between. Brands are not the most conclusive way to make a decision since even good and well-known brands can produce bad products and even unknown brands often come up with truly awesome products. Still, they are a decent starting point when choosing between two or more products. Here are some of the brands we’d recommend you keep an eye on – Advion, Combat, Vendetta, Invict, Maxforce, and others.
Other useful information about cockroach bait stations and baits
Otherwise, DIY homemade natural solutions can – at best – work as slight roach repellents, which really isn’t what you want when you’re dealing with a full-blown cockroach infestation. Here are some of the most common and highly ineffective DIY tools people still use:
- Coffeehouse. This uses wet coffee grounds in a roach-accessible jar. The coffee is meant to attract the roaches why the jar is supposed to trap them. This can work as a roach trap but it only addresses the roaches that are out and about in your home – it has no effect on the roach nests in your home.
- Catnip repellent. A lot of people believe that catnip tea spray is supposed to repel cockroaches. The lack of scientific evidence to support that theory aside, repellents can be effective at dealing with individual roaches that are just passing through, but if you have several hundred roaches in your wall, it’s not going to do anything about them.
- Bay leaf repellent. Bay leaf is known to be an effective repellent, more so than catnip. However, it’s still just a repellent and won’t solve the underlying problem.
- Orange peels. Cockroaches are supposed to hate the smell of citrus, which could make orange or lemon peels an effective repellent for cockroaches. Still, repellents are a good way to prevent a roach infestation but are useless when it comes to treating one.
Usage tips on roach baits and bait stations
Cockroaches prefer to stick to low, moist and dark places when they are moving around. If you see a cockroach in the middle of your wall, bathing in the sun in the middle of the day, then there’s either something wrong with it or you already have so many roaches that they are basically everywhere.
And here’s the second point about using roach baits and bait stations properly – keep an eye on whether roaches are attracted to the bait or are just passing by it even if it is well-placed. If cockroaches are not attracted to the bait you’re using this doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s something wrong with the bait – it’s possible that it would attract a lot of other cockroach species but is just not what your roaches are interested in. Cockroaches are omnivores and eat a lot of things, but they still have their preferences.
If you’ve placed the bait stations adequately and if the roaches find the bait delicious, then it’s just a waiting game – if the insecticide in the bait is strong enough and you’ve placed enough bait stations, the roach presence in your home should soon come to an end. If the roaches are particularly persistent and take a while to wipe off, you can do well to change the bait regularly.
Roach bait stations can have a lasting effect of several months after you’ve wiped out the initial infestation, but for maximum effectiveness, you might want to replace them every couple of weeks while you’re still battling the main roach infestation.
Another important thing to do when setting up roach baits and bait stations is to regularly clean your entire home. Remember that roaches feed on all types of dirt and residue – a dirty floor is like a buffet to them. Even if the bait station is well-placed and the bait is delicious and attractive to them, they won’t as much of it as they otherwise would if the whole place was spotlessly clean. Keeping the treated area as clean as possible is the easiest way to ensure that the roach bait stations will reach their maximum effectiveness.
And of course, there’s also the question about the pets and kids in your home. Not only can roach baits be delicious for a pet (dogs are omnivores too), but the bait station itself can also seem like an interesting toy for both a pet and a kid. Most insecticides in roach baits are used in very small quantities and won’t cause irreparable harm to a mammal if consumed, but they are still something you don’t want in your kid’s or pet’s organism. Not to mention that breaking and ruining the bait station by playing with it will “lesser” its effectiveness. To avoid that a lot of people go for other roach-killing methods but roach bait stations can still be used in homes with pets and kids – all you’ll have to do is simply places them somewhere where your kids or pets can’t physically reach.
All this doesn’t take away from the actual effectiveness of these products, however. Cockroach bait stations remain one of the most effective tools in battling roach infestations and are much more practical than most of their alternatives. Buying the right roach bait station for your situation does require a bit of research as you need to know precisely what type of cockroaches you’re having. However, if you go through that research and find the right product for you, it can be the best purchase you’ve done in a long time.
So, to wrap things up, let’s recap our Top 3 suggestions:
The Advion cockroach bait station uses indoxacarb as its active ingredient. It’s a great slow-acting solution for most common household cockroaches and it works on both smaller and larger cockroaches. It doesn’t come with an adhesive back side, however, and like any other roach bait station – it needs to be kept out of the reach of both kids and pets.
The Combat roach bait stations use Fipronil as their active ingredient. Fipronil is one of the most common active ingredients in roach bait stations and there’s a good reason for that. Combat roach bait stations are highly effective against even the largest roach infestations and have a lasting effect of multiple months, depending on how well you’ve placed them around the treated area.
Another product that uses Fipronil as its active ingredient, the Maxforce roach bait stations utilize this chemical in a 0.05% solution. They are highly effective against all types of cockroaches, including German roaches. They can be used anywhere and have a lasting effect of up to 1 year if used correctly.