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Does Borax Kill Palmetto Bugs?

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Borax, also known as sodium borate, is a versatile mineral with various uses around the home, from cleaning to pest control. But does it have the power to kill Palmetto Bugs, a common household pest in the southeastern United States? Let’s delve into the science behind it.


Yes, Borax can kill Palmetto Bugs. It works by sticking to the insects’ legs and is lethal to them when ingested. To use it, mix 1 part borax with 1 part powdered sugar and spread it where the bugs are present. The sugar attracts the bugs, and the borax kills them upon ingestion. However, use borax with caution as it can be toxic if ingested by humans or pets.

What is Borax?

Borax is a soft, colorless crystalline mineral that occurs naturally or can be prepared from other minerals. It’s used in a variety of household cleaning products, such as the 20 Mule Team Borax laundry booster and Boraxo powdered hand soap. In addition, it’s used in labs as a buffering agent, and in some toothpastes, mouthwashes, and cosmetics.

The Problem: Palmetto Bugs

Palmetto Bugs are a type of large cockroach species found commonly in the southeastern United States. They prefer damp locations with abundant moisture and thrive in warm climates. They are often found in outdoor spaces such as sewers, tree stumps, and under mulch. When they invade homes, they typically head towards spaces with high humidity, such as kitchens, basements, and bathrooms.

Borax & Palmetto Bugs: The Connection

Borax is an effective way to control Palmetto Bugs. It works by sticking to the insects’ legs via static electricity and is lethal to them when consumed or when they come into contact with it. To use borax for this purpose, mix 1 part borax with 1 part powdered sugar and spread it in places where the palmetto bugs are present. The sugar attracts the bugs, and once they ingest the borax, it kills them.

How Does Borax Kill Palmetto Bugs?

When ingested, borax damages the gut lining of the cockroach, eventually causing starvation and dehydration. Boric acid, a related compound, also effectively kills roaches by interfering with neurotransmission, disrupting their digestive system, and crippling their locomotory system.

Tips for Using Borax for Palmetto Bug Control

Here are some ways you can use borax to control an infestation:

  1. Borax and sugar mixture: Mix equal parts borax and powdered sugar and spread it in places where the Palmetto Bugs are likely to be found.
  2. Borax dusting: Apply borax powder or boric acid in dark, moist areas where Palmetto Bugs feed or lay eggs.
  3. Borax baits: Make boric acid roach baits by mixing boric acid with a food source, such as peanut butter or bread crumbs.

Risks & Precautions

While Borax is a powerful tool against Palmetto Bugs, it’s important to use it with caution. Borax is toxic if ingested, so always be cautious when handling and storing this product, keeping it out of reach of children and pets. Also, avoid using it in areas where they might come into contact with it.

Alternatives to Borax

If you’re looking for alternatives to borax, consider these options:

  1. Essential oils: Rosemary, eucalyptus, cypress, citronella, and tea tree oil can all repel palmetto bugs.
  2. Diatomaceous earth: This natural powder can be spread around the house to kill Palmetto Bugs.
  3. Soap and water: A mixture of soap and water can create a natural spray that can help get rid of Palmetto Bugs.
  4. Glue traps and bait stations: These can help kill individual bugs and their nests.

Professional Advice

Remember, prevention is key. Seal cracks and holes around your home’s foundation, repair tears in window screens, and seal any gaps around doors, windows, and attic vents. Maintain proper sanitation by discarding old boxes and piles of papers, using a waste bin with a tight-fitting lid, fixing leaky drains and faucets, cleaning kitchen appliances thoroughly, and vacuuming regularly.

In conclusion, Borax is an effective, natural solution for controlling and eliminating Palmetto Bugs in your home. However, it should be used with caution and always kept out of reach of children and pets. By combining chemical and non-chemical methods, you can keep the infestation under control and maintain a bug-free home.

Frequently Asked Questions

What other pests can Borax eliminate?

Apart from Palmetto Bugs, Borax is also effective against ants, termites, silverfish, and fleas. It’s a broad-spectrum pest control agent.

Is Borax harmful to humans?

While Borax is generally safe for topical use and in small amounts, it can be harmful if ingested or inhaled in large quantities. It can cause irritation to the skin and eyes, and if swallowed, it can cause nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

Can I use Borax on my plants to kill Palmetto Bugs?

While Borax can kill Palmetto Bugs, it’s not advisable to use it on plants. Borax in soil can harm plants by causing yellowing, wilting, and death.

How long does it take for Borax to kill Palmetto Bugs?

Borax doesn’t kill Palmetto Bugs instantly. After the bug ingests the Borax, it can take up to a week for the bug to die.

Can I use Borax outside my home to prevent Palmetto Bugs from entering?

Yes, you can use Borax outside your home. However, it’s best to use it in dry areas as moisture can reduce its effectiveness. Also, remember to keep it out of reach of children and pets.

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