What is Boric Acid?
Boric acid also known by the names hydrogen borate, boracic acid, orthoboric acid and acidum boricum is a weakly acidic compound comprised of hydrogen, oxygen and boron. Throughout history, it has been used as an antiseptic, a flame retardant and, most notably, as an insecticide.
While boric acid has not proven to be carcinogenic, in sufficient quantities, it is lethal to every creature on Earth but more about this toxicity later.
The “Common” Cockroach
All cockroaches are, by nature, scavengers. As such, they are in almost constant contact and consume potentially harmful bacteria and pathogens. Exacerbating this fact is that cockroaches almost continually excrete fecal matter that is contaminated by these bacteria and pathogens. In short, cockroaches are excellent passive vector for almost any microbe.
In addition, cockroaches readily adapt to a wide variety of environments, are remarkably hardy and reproduce at an astounding rate. The oft quoted adage that the cockroach will inherit the Earth in the event of a nuclear war is not particularly farfetched.
How Does Boric Acid Roach Killer Work?
The most immediate and efficacious use of boric acid is to introduce into a potential food source for the roach colony to consume. The roaches will not eat the compound as it is but will readily ingest it if it is mixed with sugar or flour. The boric acid then has a degenerative and ultimately fatal effect on the roaches’ nervous system. A secondary effect is that the dying roaches will excrete feces with a significant amount of boric acid included. Other roaches eat this feces and are then killed.
A complementary effect of boric acid is as an irritant to the exoskeletons of the insect pests. In addition to its dehydrating properties, boric acid also sticks to the exoskeleton and is considered a contaminant by the roach. As such, the roach or other pest will groom itself and ingest the boric acid and once again introduce the poison to the roach and to the colony.
Is Boric Acid Harmful to Pets?
Boric acid has the added benefits of being non-volatile, odorless and non-staining. It can be applied safely and with sufficient strength to areas where pets and other animals not only regularly pass but also sleep. In short, when applied properly, boric acid is the safest insecticide to use around other non-pestilential animals.
How Do I Apply Boric Acid?
To apply boric acid, simply apply directly to spaces where the insects are noted to regularly traverse. A typical dosage is 1.5 lbs. per 150 square feet. It is not really necessary to measure this amount. Simply observe that the dosage should never result in mounds or large accumulations of the boric acid. Roaches are particularly apt at avoiding these accumulations and the treatment will be ineffective. In short, a very thin film across a wide area is the most effective way to apply boric acid for maximum roach control. Leave the powder in place for three weeks, observe the effects and then reapply as necessary.
Professional vs. DIY Roach Control
Professional exterminators do a phenomenal job of quickly and efficiently eradicating any number of potentially harmful pests. Still, their use of highly toxic chemicals is a menace to our pets, our selves and our neighbors. In many cases, these chemicals do not kill the pests but merely drive them into our neighbor’s space until your place becomes habitable again. In addition, the pesticides build a resistant strain of roach that must be dealt with in other ways.
The use of boric acid, on the other hand, deals with the problem at the root cause by attempting to destroy the entire nest and not just the individuals trep
idatious enough to venture out into the light of day. A thin coat of boric acid applied on a monthly basis is simply the most effective and environmentally conscious way to deal with cockroaches inside a human habitation.
For better or worse, all species of cockroach have a niche to fill in the world’s ecosystem. Needlessly killing them, and a host of other beneficial animals, is not the action of a good steward of the environment. Instead, one should use boric acid. The poisonous effects of boric acid are limited in scope, relatively defined and balance the needs of humans with the rest of Mother Nature’s creatures.