Boric Acid for Roaches: How Effective Is It Really?

Written by Brandi Allred
Published: February 4, 2022
Image Credit sulit.photos/Shutterstock.com
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Cockroaches and revulsion go together like fireworks and apple pie. For many, the sight of a cockroach in their home or business is enough to bring about an instantaneous feeling of disgust and fear. Roaches in the home are a bad sign, and seeing even one cockroach usually means there are more that you can’t see. Even roaches outside the home can lead to problems inside; all they need is a single scent of food to invade your home.

Here, we’ll learn more about just what type of bug a cockroach is, and how to tell it apart from other insects. Then, we’ll dive into the big question: does boric acid really work to kill cockroaches? We’ll take a closer look at just how boric acid works against roaches, and how you can use it against the roaches in your home. Then, we’ll analyze all the potential dangers of using boric acid, including whether or not it’s harmful to pets. Finally, we’ll examine alternative methods for eliminating roaches from your home.

Just What Is a Cockroach?

Boric Acid And Cockroaches - Natural Pest Control Methods
In addition to boric acid, there are natural pest control solutions for cockraoches

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Cockroaches are medium-sized insects that range all the way from the size of a quarter to the size of a cell phone. They’re almost always dark or reddish-brown; younger roaches, known as nymphs, are translucent white. Roaches start life as eggs encased in egg cases; after they hatch, they molt (shed their skin) several times before reaching adulthood.

All cockroaches have six legs with visible spikes, they also have two long antennae. Most species also come equipped with wings, though only a few can achieve true flight. Roaches can usually be found scurrying around on the ground at night; they’re nocturnal, and spend most of their time foraging for food.

Other Bugs Often Mistaken for Roaches

The most common bug mistaken for a cockroach is probably the beetle. Many beetle species superficially resemble roaches in size and color, but there are a couple of easy-to-spot differences between the two. First, beetles are slow movers, unlike roaches, who scuttle rapidly from any threat. Second, beetle antennae are very short in comparison to roach antennae.

Other bugs often confused with roaches are water bugs, bed bugs, and termites. You may also hear cockroaches called wood roaches, or palmetto bugs; rest assured, they’re all the same thing.

Does Boric Acid Really Work?

baby cockroach family
Boric acid will kill cockroaches when ingested

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Boric acid is no folk remedy when it comes to killing roaches; it really works. In fact, it’s one of the most popular, and cost-effective, means of dealing with infestations. 

Like many roach poisons, boric acid works by first sticking to the outside of the cockroach because of its positive electrostatic charge. The roach brings the boric acid back to the nest, where it gets on even more cockroaches. Then, when the roaches groom themselves, they ingest the poison, and die.

What Do You Mix With Boric Acid to Kill Cockroaches?

Boric acid by itself doesn’t attract cockroaches. Roaches are attracted to the smells of things they can eat, like food, waste, debris, and garbage. So, in order to make the boric acid appealing enough to eat, you have to mix it with something sweet.

The best mix-in is either powdered or table sugar. Mix one part sugar with three parts boric acid. Then, you can sprinkle the mixture directly in places you’ve seen roaches, or you can place it on something like a paper plate. Either way, you’ll want to make sure it’s in a place the cockroach can get to.

How Long Does it Take Boric Acid to Kill Roaches?

Unfortunately, the only real way to instantly kill a roach is by crushing it under your shoe. But, you don’t need to kill cockroaches instantaneously to get rid of infestations. Boric acid takes about 72 hours to kill a roach, but, when used effectively, it will kill every cockroach in your home. It’s important to take care of infestations promptly; roaches spread pathogens and disease.

Is Boric Acid Dangerous to Humans?

Boric acid is a common ingredient in many applications, all the way from flame retardants to antiseptics. Though it has its uses, it should never be ingested, or inhaled. Ingesting boric acid is toxic to both adults and children.

If you suspect that you, or someone you know, has ingested boric acid, you should call poison control immediately. 

Despite its toxicity when ingested, boric acid is still considered a relatively safe method for killing cockroaches. It’s especially effective when roaches get it on their bodies, go back to their nest, and then die. This is because no cockroach will say no to an easy meal, and a boric acid-laden roach is no exception. The other roaches consume the dead cockroach, and in so doing, poison themselves as well.

Is Boric Acid Harmful to Pets?

Does Bleach Kill Cockroaches - Dead Cockroach
Boric acid is deadly to roaches; it should be used with caution around children and pets

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Boric acid should not be used in areas that pets have access to. It is toxic when ingested; if you think your pet may have ingested boric acid, you should seek immediate veterinary attention. 

Rather than placing the boric acid in places frequented by pets or children, try using it in places they can’t get to. These might include the space beneath your refrigerator, closed under-the-sink cabinets, and the spaces under furniture.

Alternatives to Boric Acid

Boric acid isn’t the only effective method for getting rid of cockroach infestations. You can also use insecticide sprays, baited roach traps, baking soda, or borax. Alternatively, if you don’t want to deal with the problem on your own, you can hire a professional pest control expert. 

If you do decide to deal with the roaches yourself, it’s extremely important to use proper precautions. Minimize contact with any chemicals by wearing appropriate PPE, like rubber gloves, protective glasses, and even masks. It’s important to limit opportunities for both ingestion, and inhalation. Remember—you want the boric acid to hurt the cockroach, not you.

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