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So. You’ve got roaches. They’re sort of in control. And even when you kill them, it feels a lot like a game of whack a mole.
Before throwing up your hands or beginning to worry about the cost of a professional exterminator, let’s look at another option: cockroach traps.
In the short guide below, you’ll learn about some of the best roach traps you can buy, as well as some you can simply make for free. You’ll also learn how they work, along with some important pros and cons.
Ready? Lets go!
Three Kinds of Traps: Sticky Traps, Poisoned Bait Traps, and Mechanical Traps
Being wily creatures that do a lot of harm, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that a variety of traps have been designed over the years to deal with them. All traps use some form of glue, poison, body-damaging powder, or mechanical method to do the job, and each focuses on one of three outcomes or combination of them:
- Killing roaches one at a time.
- Going after the colony.
- Providing intelligence about cockroach populations that can inform a “big gun” strategy later on.
We’ll begin with the most basic cockroach trap—sticky traps.
Roach Sticky Traps
Cockroach sticky traps may appear to be a little primitive, but used properly, they’re one of the smartest pest control purchases you can make.
Good for reducing low-level infestations and catching the occasional straggler or two, they won’t wipe out a colony on their own. Instead, they complement more aggressive strategies nicely. Tucked inside a kitchen cabinet or under your refrigerator, a cockroach sticky trap becomes a sort of watchful sentry—quietly, ruthlessly killing roaches one-by-one, possibly for years.
But to see where sticky cockroach traps really shine, you need to give them a whirl at monitoring.
With as few as half a dozen, they’ll show you not only how bad your cockroach problem is, but where to concentrate your efforts.
Sticky roach traps are dead-simple to use, cheap for what they do, and assuming you don’t buy something weird, pesticide-free. The only downsides are occasionally getting glue on your hands, and the likelihood of catching other creepy crawlies (like mice) you may not have intended to.
Here are some sticky traps worth pointing out:
1. Exterminator’s Choice Insect Glue Traps
With an all-natural, non-pheromone cockroach lure, Exterminator’s Choice glue traps are about as simple as glue roach traps get. They’re relatively inexpensive, long-lasting, and designed for roach-sized creatures, not for every small critter (like mice) that might happen to cross their path.
Fold them along the creases and simply leave these baited boxes wherever you’ve seen roach activity—behind appliances, along walls and under furniture.
|Designed for insects||Better for monitoring than aggressive roach control|
|Highly effective natural lure||Bait application will be confusing for some|
|Large. Reliable. Eco-friendly materials||Large size makes these more costly to use in bulk|
2. Victor Roach Pheromone Trap
A variation on the basic cockroach sticky trap design, the Victor Roach Pheromone Trap includes entry points on the sides and top. Like the Exterminator’s Choice trap, it’s designed for insects, not other kinds of pests. But unlike Exterminator’s Choice, it uses a roach-attracting pheromone to lure the roaches in.
|Designed for insects, easy to set up||Smaller size, can catch fewer roaches|
|Attractive bulk pricing||Bulk packaging may not be right for all|
|Effective pheromone lure|
3. Black Flag Roach Motel
The Black Flag Roach Motel adds a bit of polish to the cockroach glue trap design. With this famous roach motel, the roaches are lured deep inside where, after being caught, you never have to see them again.
|Super simple and clean||More expensive than standard glue traps|
|Large size can trap more roaches||Larger openings catch unintended creatures, too|
4. A Homemade Roach Trap with Duct Tape and Bait
This easy homemade glue trap for roaches might seem way too simple to work, but don’t count it out until you see it in action.
To make a duct tape cockroach trap, you flip a piece of duct tape upside down, place a glob of peanut butter in the center. Roaches come for the bait and stay because they get stuck to the duct tape. Place your DIY roach trap tape along a wall or in a cupboard for the best results.
|Dirt cheap||Catches roaches, but not as effectively|
|Handy and you might have some on hand||Requires additional time and effort|
|Unattractive and sticks to anything that moves|
Poison Cockroach Bait Traps
Poison roach bait traps are tremendously effective cockroach-killing tools. Unlike roach sticky traps, which target roaches individually, roach bait traps have active ingredients that slowly poison the roaches that eat it, then spread to and poison the colony itself.
5. Advion Cockroach Gel Bait
Advion is an effective, highly regarded gel bait popular with both homeowners and professional exterminators. Formulated with its own pheromone lure, it’s easy to use and so potent that a handful of well-placed drops can often eliminate a small or self-contained infestation (see more about Advion Cockroach Gel Bait here).
Advion is usually just deposited in trouble areas, but you can also create a trap-like bait station with minimal mess. Just place a single drop inside a large matchbox and you’re good to go until it dries up after a few weeks, after which you simply re-apply.
|Extremely attractive bait||Difficult to measure short-term results|
|Powerful insecticide can spread to multiple roaches||Won’t work if roaches can find other food sources|
|Can be used as part of your ongoing defense, too||Drops must be spread out to cover all target areas to be successful|
6. Combat Roach Killing Bait Station
If you want to avoid dropping gel bait around your home (because of pets or curious kids), opt for Combat Roach Bait Stations. Like roach motels, these self-contained traps leave nothing exposed.
Roaches crawl in, eat the bait and leave… until the poison kills them later. There’s no mess and no danger of kids getting their hands on the chemicals.
|Child-proof and pet-safe||More expensive than applicator gel bait|
|Can kill many roaches before the bait is gone||Roaches might be hesitant to enter the traps|
7. Natural Roach Trap: Boric Acid and Peanut Butter
You can put together an effective DIY cockroach trap without relying on dangerous pesticides. Boric acid is a natural compound that’s deadly to any cockroach that eats it.
With just a little peanut butter and a dash of boric acid powder, you’ve created a simple roach killer that’s kid-safe, pet-safe and easy to use. Drop dabs of the miracle mixture into bottle caps and place them wherever roaches like to run.
See the full Roach-Free Recipe: Boric Acid and Peanut Butter Bait for Roaches
|Good for your wallet||Hard to measure success in the first 1–2 weeks|
|Safe for humans and pets||Won’t defeat larger cockroach infestations on its own|
8. CimeXa Insecticidal Dust Trap
This one’s another simple, homemade bait trap.
Place a dollop of peanut butter, a piece of a banana peel or a similarly sweet bait in the center of a paper plate. Then, sprinkle CimeXa insecticide dust all around the bait on the plate. Gently place the plate where roaches can easily reach it.
Hungry roaches will crawl across the CimeXa to eat the bait, picking up the insecticide dust and eating it later when they groom themselves.
See the full Roach-Free Recipe: How to Kill Roaches with Insecticidal Dust
|Very little CimeXa needed per application||Delayed kill, so it’s difficult to measure early progress|
|Safe for people and pets||Will require many applications|
9. Harris Boric Acid Roach Tablets
Harris Roach Tablets put boric acid traps in easy-to-use tablet form. Place these pill-sized tablets anywhere roaches are bothering you—storage rooms, kitchen cabinets and even wall cavities.
After roaches feed on them, they’ll scurry back to their hiding place where, if you’re lucky, they’ll spread the boric acid to other roaches. These tablets are excellent complements to other sticky or mechanical traps.
|Long-lasting if kept dry||Shouldn’t use around pets or small children|
|Easy to conceal but powerful against roaches||Need to be placed in areas where roaches are active|
10. Roach Cookies: All-Natural DIY Roach Trap
Another boric acid recipe to kill cockroaches, this one comes in the form of “cookies”—circles of dough that attract roaches with sugar and flour and kill them with the insecticide. It only takes 20 minutes to put together these roach-killing treats and hide them wherever the bugs are active.
Get the full Roach-Free Recipe: Roach Cookies: An Easy, Natural Recipe for Killing Roaches
|Inexpensive, simple, natural ingredients||Larger infestations will require additional treatments|
|“Cookies” can be left out for several weeks||Could cause avoidance if placed too close together|
11. Hot Shot Liquid Roach Bait Traps
Instead of food-scented sticky pads or powdered bait, Hot Shot Liquid Roach Baits contain—you guessed it—liquid insecticide. Cockroaches need lots of water to survive and liquid baits take advantage of that fact to make themselves even more attractive to these pests.
Rotate liquid bait stations with other baits so the roaches don’t start avoiding the traps.
|Attracts roaches with bait and water||Tend not to last as long as other traps|
|Looks better than other traps||Wear eye protection: users report some liquid spraying out when opened|
Mechanical Roach Traps
Mechanical traps involve a bit more ingenuity, either from the manufacturer who makes them or from you if you’re going to make one yourself. These devices can pay off by catching roaches without chemicals or potentially messy glues—and in the case of homemade cockroach traps, with just a few inexpensive household ingredients.
12. Jar and Petroleum Jelly DIY Cockroach Trap
Jar traps rely on potent bait and slippery sides to lure roaches into the jar and prevent them from climbing out. With a smelly bait at the bottom and sides smeared with petroleum jelly, this homemade cockroach trap can catch dozens of roaches—and it’s reusable!
Tip: Use a jar with a narrow neck for a trap that’s safe for pets, who can’t squeeze their curious snouts through the opening!
|Cheap and simple||Requires daily emptying and resetting|
|Can catch multiple roaches||Could be difficult to entice roaches into the jar|
13. A Homemade Cockroach Trap With a Beer Bottle and Oil
Save your last sip of beer (or wine) and use it to trap roaches! Research has shown that the smells of beer and wine attract these bugs just as well as leftover food. Once cockroaches venture in, the tall bottle, coated inside with slippery oil, traps roaches for good.
|Preparation involves enjoying your favorite beer or wine||Results vary when using tall bottles; roaches might be hesitant|
|Can trap multiple bugs||You probably can’t empty it to catch more roaches|
14. 2-Liter Soda Bottle Trap
Maybe you prefer soda to beer—that’s perfect because a 2-liter soda bottle can transform into a great homemade roach trap!
Cut the top off the bottle, right where it rounds out to its full width. Rub petroleum jelly inside the top half of the bottle (and the bottleneck). Then, place some bait at the bottom of the bottle, slide the top section upside-down into the bottom section and wait for roaches to climb in after the bait.
|Room for plenty of roaches to climb in||Some assembly required|
|Inexpensive (and potentially fun) project for kids to help out with||Roaches might be hesitant to climb large bottles|
15. Electric Cockroach Trap
Electric roach traps, like this one from ZoarC, are relatively new and “high-tech” entries in the pest control market. They work like glue traps, attracting roaches with bait and trapping them inside. However, electric traps zap the bugs with electricity to kill them.
This is mostly unnecessary (they’re trapped anyway) but welcome if the sight of squirming roaches gives you nightmares!
|Able to trap and kill many roaches||You still have to empty the trap to reuse it|
|Uses little electricity||Electric devices might break at any time|
Choosing the Best Roach Traps for your Needs and Putting Them to Work
Cockroach traps do a few tasks really well and one task better than any other tool.
The Best Cockroach Traps for Monitoring and Controlling Low-Level Infestations: Exterminator’s Choice Sticky Traps
Exterminator’s Choice traps are attractive to roaches, plenty sticky, and big enough to monitor even larger infestations. Like other roach glue traps, you don’t want to depend on these to wipe out a significant cockroach problem, but to keep cockroach populations down and supplement other, more aggressive methods (see below).
The Best Roach Traps for Wiping Out a Colony: Advion Cockroach Gel
While better advertised consumer products like roach motels are often good enough to do the job, the best roach bait traps come from the world of professional pest control. With Advion Cockroach Gel, you’ll get a professional-level bait that you can use to make a trap or use outside of one. Either way, it’s highly effective, hitting your roach problem directly at its source.
Cockroach traps are often the simplest ways to start eliminating roaches. They’re great for identifying and monitoring an infestation and kill plenty of cockroaches, too.
The examples on this list will help you start trapping quickly so you can begin eliminating cockroaches for good.
You can do it!
Frequently Asked Questions
Roach traps work exceedingly well at certain things. They’re great for keeping small numbers of roaches at bay, especially when combined with other tactics. And nothing works better than cockroach traps for assessing and monitoring a potential or full-on infestation.
Cockroach traps—the ones you buy from the store, anyway—are unlikely to poison your cat or dog. Sticky traps don’t use any poison, and bait traps contain them in such small amounts that at worst, your pet could experience GI upset. That being said, any DIY roach trap could cause great harm if you put poison in it and let your pet get into it.
Even if cockroach traps can be considered pet-friendly roach killers, an animal could get a sticky trap stuck to their fur, or your dog could gobble a whole trap down.
Your best bet is to assume there are no perfectly pet-safe roach traps, and keep the ones you use well out of your pet’s range.
They do, but not quite as well. Most ant traps use the same pesticides that kill roaches— imidacloprid, fipronil and hydramethylnon, but ant traps wont use the same roach-attracting scents and pheromones that help to make roach traps so effective.
- Cockroach Control Toolbox Options (2019) Pest Management Professional. Retrieved from https://www.mypmp.net/2019/02/06/cockroach-control-toolbox-options/
- How to Make a Very Effective, Pesticide-Free Cockroach Trap. Delaware Health and Social Services. Retrieved from https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/cockroachcontrolpi.pdf
- Omg, Barb, et al. (2006) Cockroach Control Manual. University of Nebraska Extension.