Cockroach Baits

- New baits are expensive but very effective -

Summary: New cockroach baits are made for large infestations in apartment buildings, food handling facilities, commercial buildings and/or other situations where sanitation and water sources can not be controlled. Baits combine a highly attractive food with a low toxicity insecticide.

Jack DeAngelis, PhD
OSU Ext. Entomologist (ret.)

Use baits instead of sprays for roaches

Sometimes sanitation and water source elimination alone are not enough to control a stubborn cockroach infestation and you have to bring out the "big guns". In this case the big guns are baits not sprays. Sprays tend to disperse roaches because the insects can detect and avoid low concentrations of insecticide residue. Baits on the other hand are attractive to roaches and can be formulated in such a way that one bait-fed roach can contaminate the "harborage" (see What are Cockroaches?) thus disrupting the entire infestation.

Inexpensive baits that you can find in grocery stores are somewhat effective for light infestations but for difficult infestations in apartment buildings or commercial buildings you'll need the same baits that professional exterminators use.

German cockroach, about 1/2" long, modified from R. E. Snodgrass and Wikipedia.

How roach baits work

Baits are nothing more than an attractive food plus a small amount of slow-acting insecticide. Roaches find the bait, feed, and in the process contaminate themselves with insecticide. They then carry some of the insecticide back to their harborage area and contaminate other roaches. In time enough insecticide is carried back to kill the entire infestation.

Professional-quality baits for DIYers

Most pro-level baits come in a tube. Some use a plunger to dispense the bait while others are just squeezed out. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully because every product is used differently. All baits are available here (, our affiliate) where you can also get copies of the current product labels.

Any of the gel, paste or dry flowable baits should give excellent control if used correctly. If quicker knock-down is needed these can be combined with a "crack and crevice" treatment with conventional insecticides but be careful not to contaminate surfaces with insecticide.

Water resistant baits for outdoor use

Most baits are formulated to be used indoors where it is dry. However, in warm, humid climates such as the southeastern US cockroach baiting is frequently deployed outdoors around the foundation of homes and buildings. You'll need a weather-resistant bait for this application. Niban granular bait can be used outdoors for a variety of pests including cockroaches.

Using roach baits correctly

It makes no sense to use these relatively expensive products incorrectly. If you keep in mind the following suggestions the baits will work better and in the long run and you'll use less of them. Start by eliminating sources of food and water. Don't place baits on surfaces where pesticides have been applied because the residue may interfere with bait acceptance. Finally, place baits exactly as directed by product instructions and replace as necessary.

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