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19 July 2009 @ 11:08 pm
roaches under the fridge :(  
So, a month ago, we moved into an apartment building built in the 1920s. In hot, sweaty Los Angeles. In a relatively low-income area.

Very soon after moving in, when getting water or going to the bathroom in the wee hours, we noticed the presence of German roaches. Not surprising, I guess.

So we cleaned. And caulked. And the maintenance guy plastered some other gaps between the sink cabinet and the wall, we duct-taped other holes we later saw around pipes, etc. The pest control guy poisoned (the gel stuff they eat and bring back to the nest). We did the same in other areas of the house, though we didn't see them elsewhere. We put down boric acid in the cabinets. Later, my boyfriend found a ton of dessicated egg sacks under the fridge (like Alien...he felt like Ripley) and cleaned it out as best he could. So they obviously made a roach city of the fridge before, and the previous tenants, I guess, did nothing. So we poisoned under there, too.

Didn't see any for awhile, blah, blah, blah.

Tonight we found a few nymphs and fresh eggs under the fridge and I am FREAKED again. This means they aren't just living in the walls but in the area under our FRIDGE -- maybe they were all along, because we found the eggs nestled in a place we had previously missed -- which is difficult to clean and I just KNOW we missed some eggs and that there are probably some adults in there, hiding...they're living with US now, and this is like a horror movie for me. I can barely kill one without hyperventilating. I clean like a maniac but I don't think it makes much of a difference; there's always a crumb or water somewhere.

Do you have any advice for treating the area under the fridge, where they're obviously nesting? Is poison our only option? Can we spray anything inside the fridge, where we can't reach/see properly? Is the landlord required to replace the fridge if the roaches were already living in it, or is what pest control doing (spraying around the building and poisoning inside the apartments) the extent of their obligation to us? Any words of wisdom are appreciated.

(On top of it all, we found fleas on our indoor cat yesterday. Probably from the alley his favorite window views, where I've seen a stray cat or two hanging out. We bought Advantage, which worked for us last time, but if mice and bedbugs get added to the equation, I'm going to go off the deep-end. Does hot weather + old building + large city always = plague of vermin?)

melfice: pic#90977585melfice on July 20th, 2009 07:41 am (UTC)
I hope someone gives you some amazing answers, because I can only sympathize.

The first apartment I moved into when I came to LA had a horrible roach problem. I'm pretty certain they were coming from our nasty neighbors, but we did everything we could to get rid of them. We cleaned obsessively, we used chemicals, we used natural roach baits/repellents, we used boric acid. We bagged up every food item in our cabinets, we moved everything out of the cabinets DAILY and cleaned. We moved furniture and appliances (the fridge and stove included) and cleaned and cleaned.

And then we'd wake up in the middle of the night to get a glass of water, flick the light switch on, and see nothing but the scattering of roaches. I know exactly what you mean by "about to go off the deep end".

And then we moved. And I haven't had a single roach yet. Knock on wood, of course. This is a nicer apartment building and our neighbors are much cleaner, so I'm sure that has something to do with it. I'm sure that moving isn't really a viable option for you though :/

Either way, just wanted to let you know that I've definitely been there and I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this.
ghost storylightup_tea on July 20th, 2009 08:27 am (UTC)
I think our roach problem might primarily come from the past -- i.e. the previous tenants aren't so good at controlling them/cleaning/etc. Luckily it doesn't seem as bad as yours -- not a ton of roaches scattering. The thing is I think they've MAYBE stopped coming in through the walls? I'm not sure. I could be wrong. But we caulked, taped, and plastered any hole or gap we could see and saw no roaches for a while, except one or two in places we had never seen them before in the broad light of day, as if they were confused because they couldn't get home to their nests? And now we've suddenly seen a few nymphs and that makes me think the fridge is their new refuge...

I dunno. I wonder if an IGR (growth regulator) would work? If we sprayed it under the fridge, in conjunction with poison baits and boric acid? I'm willing to try anything! This apartment is really cool and I just want them GONE.
ionracasionracas on July 20th, 2009 08:38 am (UTC)
The answer to your last question is pretty much 'yes'. The insects are firmly colonised in the area, all you can do is work to control their population in your house. You're not going to eradicate them off the face of the earth, so your 'zero tolerance' policy is going to frustrate you. It sounds like you're doing a great job of
controlling them already. Cleaning out under the fridge and the stove is hugely important, weekly if you can.
I am an interactive leaf on the wind!: Who will stop the rain?interactiveleaf on July 20th, 2009 08:58 am (UTC)
Oh. Ew. I'm sorry, but you're kinda screwed. They're probably in your fridge too. They can withstand extreme temps and they don't need much oxygen. They were there before you got there, and they'll be there after you're gone. So sorry.

How can you identify a "fresh" egg?
Wizard of Changes  -- ©cdozo 2004 to 2015cdozo on July 20th, 2009 10:42 am (UTC)
You could try putting boric acid under and around the fridge. You get it at drug stores. It's supposed to be pretty safe, but be careful not to breathe the dust as you put it out. You can get it at drug stores. It will cake after a bit, so clean and replace it every couple of weeks.
Kiss my grits!: Blue treenoelleleithe on July 20th, 2009 11:30 am (UTC)
I'd ask your landlord to have the fridge taken outside and cleaned. It'll be annoying because you'll have to empty it out, but scrubbing down the underside and bug-bombing the thing is probably the only option (other than replacing the fridge entirely).

While the fridge is out, you can scrub down the area around it and look for any little holes where they might be coming in or nesting.

We had a nasty roach infestation inside our kitchen island once. We had to have the whole house fumigated to get rid of them. (Which wasn't 100%, because we lived in south Georgia.)
(Deleted comment)
ghost storylightup_tea on July 22nd, 2009 12:37 am (UTC)
Haha, thanks. Yeah. I'm tempted to do that but I do love this French Normandie charm. Exposed brick wall, dark wood floors, lovely windows...and roaches. I live in the southern area of Silver Lake, kinda at an intersection of West Lake, Silver Lake, Koreatown. Anyway, our major problem seems to be that the fridge itself was infested and though they bombed and poisoned some of the eggs, I guess, hatched. We're baiting it right now, which will hopefully help to control the problem. I'm not expecting them to disappear from the walls of the building completely. I just don't want them actually nesting with us.
Sarcasticia Nitpickersontisiphone on July 20th, 2009 02:18 pm (UTC)
Not to freak you out more, but if the eggs are under the fridge they're probably living in it, not under it :( I don't know if they're required to replace it, but I'd ask, definitely.
MJ: consciencemaidenjedi on July 20th, 2009 06:17 pm (UTC)
This. I would get the landlord to replace the fridge altogether.
Joyjoy0327 on July 20th, 2009 02:37 pm (UTC)
I haven't had reason to try it yet, however I have heard that you can purchase a "hormonal" control that prevents them from breeding. Its also supposedly food safe, so you could use it in the kitchen. Perhaps using that in combonation with the boric acid and poisons you could get rid of them?
Starfkrstarfkr on July 20th, 2009 04:50 pm (UTC)
Having lived in California my whole life I will tell you that you are fighting a losing battle. Even if you get rid of the roaches in your unit, they will just keep coming from adjoining units. The only thing you can do is hang on and move to another part of town that is roachless (after being extra careful that you are not transporting any with you in the move).
Rev. Otanaotana on July 20th, 2009 07:35 pm (UTC)
Sorry for the TL;DR wall-o-text
The only thing to do is move. We lived in an apartment that was infested last year, and nothing will get rid of them as long as they are there and breeding. They can live in your fridge (yes, in) and will infest everything.

Get out now before allergies kick in. It took us over a year just to find another apartment in our price range, and during that time we got horribly sick as our landlord refused to do anything except bomb once (which did nothing more than drive them into new apartments).

I hate to sound alarmist, but you will need to examine your belongings THOROUGHLY when you move, to make sure you can take it with you. They will live in everything, not just the places you see egg sacs. They particularly like books, wood and other organic material. If you can afford it, some bug extermination companies offer a service where they will set your belongings in a vacuum sealed room and suffocate the roaches; it won't remove the waste, which can still cause allergies, but it will kill them all completely. We couldn't afford that, so we made the choice to ditch 80% of what we owned, replace what we could afford, and the rest we packed into those giant ziplock bags to bring to the new place, leaving them sealed for as long as possible to keep any stray hijackers confined and airtight.

Then we dusted the new place with boric acid (you want to open the box and just shake it a little; you know how powder kind of poofs when you open it? You want a layer of that on EVERYTHING. If you can see it, the roaches can see it, and they'll go around it) and in the first month I saw ... three adults, total. All of which I killed with Raid. After that? Nothing.

I'm really sorry you're dealing with this. Once they're living in an apartment, they're extremely difficult to kill and control. There are very few ways to reliably kill roaches; they're pretty smart and opportunistic. Anything you can get over the counter is a good start, but really you need to get your landlord to treat the entire building, replace the refrigerator and take it very, very seriously. If he doesn't, my advice is to get the hell outta there and find a new place.