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How To: Clean a Roach Colony

KingCam

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How to Clean a Roach Colony


Things you'll need:

  • Your roach colony tub or tank.
  • A spare tub, tank, or trashcan.
  • Vaseline & Brush (if you have a climbing species)
  • Trash bag
  • Boiling water
  • Cardboard (egg cartons, paper towel rolls, etc)
  • Rubber Gloves & Medical Mask (totally optional)
  • Forceps or kitchen tongs (optional)


I use the word “frass” a lot in the guide. If you are unfamiliar with the term, it is that layer of filth at the bottom of your roach colony. Roach droppings, shed skins, dead roaches, etc.


Let's get started, shall we?


Step 1


Go somewhere with a large open area. The less there is for an escaped roach to hide under, the better. I would personally never do this inside my house. The garage is a decent option. Outside is even better if conditions are favorable.


If you are working with a climbing species be sure to apply a Vaseline barrier to your spare roach holding container.


Step 1b


This is where your optional supplies comes into play. If roaches gross you out and you don't want to touch them there are a couple of options. You can either use a pair of forceps or kitchen tongs to handle the cardboard, or you can wear rubber gloves and use your hands.


Here is a nice trick if you have a climbing species like lobster roaches (Nauphoeta cinerea), get those kitchen gloves they sell at walmart, like these:
kitchengloves.jpg

Now if you paint Vaseline on your gloves from the wrist up the roaches will not be able to climb past your hand! I don't know about you, but if a roach ran up my arm and got under my shirt I think I would have a heart attack and die.


If you're using forceps or kitchen tongs with a climbing species you can also Vaseline the handles to keep them from running up.


If you let your roach colony get especially nasty before cleaning you may want to wear a medical mask to reduce the smell when you start stirring up the mess in the bottom of the colony tub.


If you don't suffer from a phobia of roaches you can just bare hand everything and forget about the mask, gloves, forceps, etc :D


Step 2


Using your preferred handling method it's time to separate your roaches from their dirty cardboard. You'll want to make sure your colony tub is directly next to (touching) your roach holding container. This way when you move pieces of cardboard from one tub to the other if any roaches jump for it they can't land on the floor. They will land in one tub or the other (hopefully).


Now, one at a time slowly lift roach-covered pieces of cardboard from your colony tub over to your roach holding container. Give the cardboard a few good knocks to make the roaches fall off. Make sure every roach fell off the cardboard and discard into your trash bag. You will repeat this until everything is out of your colony tub except for a layer of frass & live roaches at the bottom.


At this point you have to figure out how to get the remaining roaches out of the colony tub. The best way I have figured out is to put an egg carton back into the colony tub, give it a few minutes for the roaches to retreat to it (since it's their only cover now), and shake it out in the roach container tub. Repeat until satisfied. During this process I run my forceps or tongs through the frass to scare up any adults still hiding in it. You can also use your hands to do this if you are wearing gloves. I would not recommend using your bare hands to sift through roach frass. Ever.


Step 3


You won't get every roach without spending hours and hours. If you have as many roaches as I do it won't matter if you lose a few. Once you're satisfied with how many you've managed to get out of the colony tub, it's time to cull the rest. Put a pot on the stove or a bowl in the microwave and boil some water. The bigger your tub & the more frass the more water you will need.


Do this next part outside, trust me.


Pour the boiling water into the now mostly-empty colony tub. Keep pouring boiling water in until it covers everything in the bottom of the tub. This will ensure that all straggler roaches are totally dead.


At this point you have the most disgusting soup you have ever seen in the bottom of your tub. The good news is that this is GREAT fertilizer for your garden or yard. I dump my frass soup directly on my garden, but a compost pile or flower bed would also be a good option. You'll want to make sure the frass soup has cooled before pouring it near or on live plants.


Now what to do with your trash bag full of used cardboard? Well it's safe to assume a few stowaways made it into the trash bag, so I always either freeze or burn my used cardboard. I would go the freezing route if you live in the city. Just put the trash bag in your freezer for a day and then throw it in your dumpster.


If freezing isn't an option, or if you live in the country and just want to, burning is another good option. (Personally I use gasoline to make sure everything dies if I'm burning it, but that can be pretty dangerous if you don't know what you're doing.) If you're a minor do NOT attempt to burn anything without adult supervision.


Step 4


Now it's time to rinse the colony tub out. I use the garden hose in the backyard, but if that's not an option I'm sure you could do this at a kitchen sink. Rise the rest of the frass out, and use an old sponge or brush to scrub off anything that's stuck to the bottom still.


I never use anything but hot water to clean my tubs, but you can use a vinegar/water mix or a very diluted bleach/water mix if you really wanted to. If you do use anything other than water make sure you rinse it out thoroughly.


Once the tub is cleaned out it's time to re-apply a Vaseline barrier if you are dealing with a climbing species.


Fill the tub with new cardboard. My personal preference is to use egg cartons. I cut them in half (so now instead of one 12-egg carton I have 2 egg cartons that each hold 6 eggs) and set them cut-side-down in the tub so the frass can drop to the bottom of the tub instead of accumulating inside the cartons.


You can also use paper towel or toilet paper tubes, corrugated cardboard pieces, crumpled newspaper, etc.


Put your water gel bowl in, your food bowl, and anything else you keep in there (thermometers, etc).


Step 5


Pour all of the roaches from your roach holding container back into the newly cleaned colony tub and put the lid on.


Congratulations! You won't have to do that for another 4-6 months!


Tips


If you mist your colony that's fine, but don't overdo it! Soggy cardboard leads to mold and mildew. Also, clumps of frass will get stuck to it and things just start to get gross.


Keep your food in bowls! Especially if it's wet food!!! When fruit & vegetable juices mix with the frass three things happen: it stinks, it molds, and it attracts phorid flies. If phorid flies discover wet, soppy, fruit-juice filled frass they will go into an absolute breeding frenzy, and in less than a week you'll have flies everywhere! They aren't harmful really, just annoying and unsightly.


Another word on phorid flies. For some reason high temperatures seem to repel them. When I keep my colonies at 90F or above I almost never have phorid fly problems, but as soon as I put my roaches in room temperature conditions it seems the phorid flies move in.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------


Here is a newly cleaned lobster roach colony. You will notice how I cut the egg cartons in half. The top layer of cartons you see here are on their sides, but the ones under them are cut-side-down so the frass will fall to the bottom of the tub instead of accumulating in the cartons. Notice how the water gel is in a bowl and so is the food.
2012-09-03%2017.30.05.jpg
 

esn

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I don't think I ever realized I could put vaseline on the gloves to make sure they didn't crawl on me. I was cleaning out my colony last night and ended up chucking a 1 1/2 inch nymph across the room because it was crawling up my arm. Nice guide!
 

KingCam

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I don't think I ever realized I could put vaseline on the gloves to make sure they didn't crawl on me. I was cleaning out my colony last night and ended up chucking a 1 1/2 inch nymph across the room because it was crawling up my arm. Nice guide!

Haha!! I've done the same thing SO many times XD sometimes one will still manage to climb on the vaselined gloves if they get their footing just right, but it blocks the majority of them from going up your arm.



Sent from my Epic 4G using Tapatalk 2 :)
 

Jennewt

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A nice how-to piece! How often do you need to clean a typical roach colony?
 

KingCam

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A nice how-to piece! How often do you need to clean a typical roach colony?

If you don't put any effort into keeping the colony tidy: once every three months. If you keep all fruits & veggies in a bowl and remove leftovers after 24 hours you can make a cleaning last nearly 6 months without issue.
 

Wildebeestking

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What exactly do you feed these roaches to? Watched a video of them swarming the dog food. Quite repulsive. Not sure I'd want to raise these.
 

newtlady

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thee are quite fun i raise dubia but i do believe i got a few lobsters inthere too. my bearded dragons love them the tiny babies can be ed to birds and other lizards. i even give extras to the out side lizards way away from the houe of course. lol great cleaning ritual just like mine thanks
 
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