Summer brings a lot of things to NYC.

Some of these things are good.

Public pools. Outdoor movies. The free ferry to Governors Island, with its green lawns and panoramic views of the city, like so:

Picnic Point panorama

Gosh, isn’t that nice? Go ahead, click the photo to see it up close.

Well, come on back from your happy place now, because summer also brings some not-so-good things to NYC. No, not the constant smell of wee…. something worse.


As much as I despise them, I have three cats and a kid who still likes to play on the kitchen floor. Spraying a bunch of poison around
is out of the question.

What else to do?

Here’s some of the all- (or mostly-)natural things I’ve done to get rid of roaches.

Clean up. This one is obvious, but it bears repeating. Of course, I have yet to figure out how to clean behind the stove or fridge, so this can only go so far.

Bay leaves. I’m sure this would work better if I had a bay laurel tree, but dried bay leaves from the supermarket will drive roaches away. They need to replaced fairly often to keep working, though.

Catnip. This works the best of anything I’ve tried so far. I put some into fill-your-own tea bags and then stash them throughout the kitchen.

Spraying soapy water on bugs. Okay. This works — on all bugs, as a matter of fact — but for an incredibly gross reason. Soap dissolves the “glue” that keeps a bug’s exoskeleton together… leaving you with a disassembled insect. Barf.

Borax. (Or boric acid, although it’s more toxic and harder to find.) Mix borax with virtually anything and dump the powder into the cracks and crevices. I’ve tried borax with cocoa powder and sugar, but I’ve seen suggestions for cornstarch, flour, white rice, sweetened condensed milk — one site suggested putting chopped onion in it but I’ll be damned if I’m doing any food prep for bugs.

These have worked for me so far, but I’m constantly collecting more ideas, in case things ever get worse. I hear mint and cedar work well, although I haven’t tried it. Also, cucumber and garlic, but isn’t just leaving bits of food out to spoil?

Fellow New Yorkers (and other city dwellers), have you tried to get rid of bugs in your kitchen? What worked?

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3 thoughts on “Summer brings a lot of things to NYC.

  1. I’ve not tried it but have heard good things about using capsaicin as a repellent for most anything. That said, I’m not sure it would dissuade roaches.

  2. I just tried boric acid / flour / Karo Syrup in a milk cap two days ago.
    Seems to be working so far.

    If you ask your cats I’m sure they will volunteer to keep the catnip repellent evenly distributed.

  3. No way — all those cats would do is get high and then fight with each other. They cannot be relied on to provide adequate insect defense.

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