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Dealing with cockroaches

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What is the issue?
Cockroaches are a common infesting insect in warm climates. They make boating life unpleasant, unhealthy, loathsome and lonesome.

Why address this?
Once a few cockroaches have arrived aboard and establish themselves they are prolific breeders. With the tiniest amount of food and water they are capable of producing thousands of offspring annually and building an infestation very quickly. Roaches carry bacteria that cause food poisoning and have recently been found to be a source of allergy. Justifiably most people find them repulsive and once it is known that you have them aboard your vessel, friends will no longer want to visit. Worse still they will live in fear that you will visit their vessel should you carry any eggs aboard.

How to address this?
Eliminate the cockroaches with Boric Acid. This tried and tested white inorganic powder has the twin benefits of being both deadly to cockroaches whilst at the same time being relatively harmless to people. Boric Acid is derived from boron that appears in a host of household products, such as toothpaste and mouthwash. The name may sound familiar as in the past it was used as an antiseptic eye drop. Despite its widespread uses you should always read the product label carefully prior to use.

The light white powder has no discernible smell and provided it stays dry it will remain active indefinitely as it does not deteriorate over time. The key to the successful use of Boric Acid is to get the cockroaches to crawl over areas treated with a light Boric Acid dusting. The object is to get the powder to stick to the insects legs and antenna whilst they pass over dusted surfaces. Cockroaches find Boric Acid neither repellent nor attractive, they ingest the acid when they clean off the particles that adhere to them and it is this that kills them. There is no species of cockroaches that Boric Acid does not eliminate.

Here are the approaches:
(i) Firstly empty every single locker and clean thoroughly to remove any crumbs that may have collected.
(ii) Target the areas where cockroaches have been seen. They prefer to live where there is food, warmth and moisture which is typically in the galley, under the sink, the stoves, inside food storage lockers, near waste disposal containers etc seeking out secluded cracks and crevices to inhabit.
(iii) Avoid open and exposed surfaces in these areas, focus on their observed pathways right into corners and up against edges. Do not use Boric Acid on counter tops where food is being prepared; wipe off any dust that should fall upon these surfaces with a damp cloth.
(iv) Take the ready-to-use Boric Acid ‘squeeze-type’ bottle, shake it and puff a very fine layer over the selected areas.
(vi) Remember the objective is to force the roaches to walk trough a very fine dusting of Boric Acid. Dust a thin scarcely visible and totally unavoidable layer over the area, not large piles that they will simple walk around as an inconvenience to their pathways.
(vii) If there are any areas where you see activity and suspect a nest but cannot access it, remove any fittings or drill a small hole so you may puff the boric acid in.

Then all that is required is to leave the dusting in place. By the end of two weeks you should see you boat clear of cockroach activity. This is 100% effective solution. Cockroaches are a scourge in hot climates and most people live in dread of a roach outbreak. Once you discover Boric Acid you have the peace of mind that you can completely eliminate any incursion.

Furthermore this small dusting upon recessed surfaces is harmless to humans. By contrast, and before discovering Boric Acid, we tried many approaches to dealing with small incursions including a much praised off-the-supermarket- shelf insecticide aerosol. We sprayed the vessel lockers end to end and within a day the odour made the ships crew feel highly unwell. Consequently we were obliged to spend the nest day removing it wash it away and retreat to baiting / roach traps. You may in fact use Boric Acid in conjunction with roach traps to expedite a particularly bad infestation but this is not necessary. Boric Acid alone will do the trick.

Boric Acid is also widely available at hardware shops worldwide and you should be able to find it readily. As long as the powder is dry Boric Acid will go on indefinitely protecting the vessel.

With thanks to:
Michael Harpur, Yacht Obsession.

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