Cockroaches love to eat almost anything they can. From food left on plates to trash thrown in the dumpster, it can seem like there’s no way to avoid them. Since compost is loaded with everything they’d want to chase after, you might be wondering if roaches will infest your compost pile.
So does compost attract cockroaches? Yes, cockroaches love to live and eat in compost bins. There’s tons of food in there, all of which produce a pungent odor that they desire. It might seem impossible to get rid of them, but you can use quite a few tactics to prevent roaches from coming back.
Throughout this article, you’ll also learn how to keep your compost pile from attracting roaches, how to get them out, and whether or not they’re good for your pile.
How to Stop Attracting Roaches
Most people make their compost piles out of waste materials from inside, including old food scraps. Combined with moisture, these bins are now a perfect environment for cockroaches to feed and reproduce. However, you can keep them away for good by making it a hostile, unsettling habitat for these pests.
Here are five ways to stop attracting roaches:
- Put more water into your pile. Cockroaches prefer to have a little bit of moisture to stay hydrated, but too much water makes it hard for them to thrive. They’ll drown or stay away entirely because it’s too challenging to navigate. Just make sure you don’t flood the pile too much, or you’ll have bigger problems on your hands.
- Stir the bin. Cockroaches settle in places that are stagnant and easy to move around in. When you mix the compost pile around frequently, they’ll have trouble trying to walk around to find the food that they’re looking for. You might have to do this as often as once every other day.
- Consider using an aerator. They allow you to mix your compost pile easily without having to get your hands dirty. The sharp twisting motion is enough to wrench any cockroach out, and it also loosens the soil to create an uneven walking surface. Check out the Lotech Products Compost Aerator if you need a good option.
- Make sure you’re using the correct green to brown ratio. Green materials are lively, including grass clippings and vibrant tree leaves, while brown materials are made up of dead grass, newspaper, and so on. A proper ratio will make it difficult for cockroaches to thrive during a sped-up composting process.
- Don’t let your compost pile get settled with food scraps. Cockroaches aren’t going to chase after dead grass. They’re looking for apple cores, orange peels, and other food scraps. Try not to use too much food if you have a roach problem. If you need to for waste purposes, then always mix the food evenly into the pile.
How to Remove Cockroaches from Compost Piles
Cockroaches can reproduce at incredible rates. If you don’t find a colony that’s growing at the bottom of a compost pile, you’ll wake up one day to an infested compost bin that seems beyond repair. The best way to remove cockroaches from compost piles is to choose one of the following options:
- Buy chickens. Chickens love to eat cockroaches more than any other animal on the plant. One or two chickens will run through a compost pile and eat all of the roaches in only a couple of hours. What makes them even more effective is that they won’t ruin your pile. Their feces is actually beneficial for your compost!
- Use diatomaceous earth around the pile. Never use it inside the pile, but dusting it around the area will keep cockroaches from coming back. It’s made out of crushed dead coral and ancient bones from the bottom of the ocean. D.E. is quite impressive in its origins, but the effects will be even more astounding.
- Find out where they’re coming from. Cockroaches don’t just randomly appear; They always have a source. If you can locate the colony and where it’s coming from, you can irradicate them with spray or more D.E.
- Increase the internal temperature of your compost pile. Contrary to what most people know, compost should sit between 130 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit (54 to 71 Celcius). Again, a proper green to brown ratio will allow your compost pile to rest at a good temperature. You shouldn’t have to manually heat it.
- Seal off your compost pile. Consider using a barrel or something else that’ll keep bugs from entering. You can still healthily maintain a compost pile from inside of a closed container, you just have to make sure that you aerate it enough to provide a good amount of oxygen.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to get cockroaches out of your compost pile. Even though their skeletons aren’t terrible for your pile (in most instances), nobody wants to see dead bugs! They can also eat the food scraps before they have time to decompose. For more examples of the benefits and disadvantages of roaches, proceed to the next section.
Are They Beneficial or Not?
Roaches might be a pest to deal with, but are they actually bad for your compost bin? You’d be surprised to learn some of the reasons that people intentionally introduce cockroaches into their compost piles.
One of the main reasons that you might find them beneficial is that they chow down on bones that take a long time to decompose by themselves. For example, if you toss a few chicken bones in the pile from last night’s dinner, cockroaches will chew them up quickly. This process speeds up the decomposition, allowing it to enrich your soil quicker.
However, a bad problem that people experience with cockroaches is that they eat everything before it has a chance to decompose. While chicken bones and other dense foods take a while to break down, fruit, meat, and other light foods need time to compost by themselves. Cockroaches eat them quickly, so your pile doesn’t receive any benefits.
Back to another benefit, cockroaches tend to remove foul odors from piles that stink due to old meat. Meat usually is good for compost piles, but it can rot and smell foul. If you don’t mind losing the decomposition benefits, then a few cockroaches might actually be more of a blessing than a curse.
Unfortunately, cockroaches can bring pesticides with them. They’re tough creatures, so a little bit of poison sometimes won’t be enough to harm them. If they make their way into your compost pile, they’ll bring the poison with them. This process can result in your composting soil damaging whatever plants to put it on or under.
In short, unless you’re using roaches to chow down on dense bones or stinky meat scraps, they’re much more harmful than beneficial. The good news is that you now have all of the tools you need to conquer the frustrating invasion.
Cockroaches might show up in small numbers, but you’ll notice that they quickly reproduce and flood your compost pile. It has everything they need to have a good time and thrive. You can increase the temperature of the pile, add a bit more water, or buy a couple of chickens to tackle the problem.
The key takeaway is to remember that you can prevent cockroaches by simply maintaining a proper composting pile. A high temperature prevents roaches from coming, as does a good amount of moisture and brown to green ratio. Follow the suggestions throughout this post and you’ll have no problem removing the roaches.