Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches



We get it all on Car Talk: Cars aflame. Marital disputes. Even stalling space shuttles. But… Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches? Apparently so.

By itself and outside of your car, a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach isn't much of a problem. But toss one pregnant female that's capable of laying up to several hundred eggs into your vehicle, and you've got yourself one serious automotive insect issue. And that's exactly where Beatrice from Cookstown, Pennsylvania found herself, this week, with her parents' BMW. (You can listen to her call right here.)

Our suggestion? Leave a block of dry ice inside the car and hope that the roaches freeze, or head off to Florida.

But, admittedly, it was a long shot. What do we know about insect control? Not much -- as witnessed by our garage waiting room.

What suggestions do you have? Have you ever faced a vehicular insect infestation? Let us know what you think will work. We'll ask Beatrice to drop by right here to check out your advice, too.

Yours in cockroach-free cars,

Tom and Ray Magliozzi
Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers


Use a flea balm/fogger available at pet supply stores. Pet groomers use them all the time and it would penetrate even the ventalation system.

Niel Niem


My husband thought of the simplest method. Go to the supermarket and get ROACH TRAPS. You know, The Roach Hotel. Roaches check in but they don’t check out!! Get roach traps and put them in the car. Hopefully, it will work.
Really, guys, roaches survived the ice age and the cataclysm that wiped out the dinosaurs and most species. You think that dry ice and CO2 will kill them?
Good luck, Bebe!


Surprisingly enough, yesterday I was a judge at a high school science fair. One of the posters I reviewed was titled, “The Hiss of Death”. The experiment tested how lethal different fluids were to Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches!

The cockroaches have spiracles on their abdomen through which they breath. The researchers placed cockroaches in container with the fluid not deep enough to drown them and the roach was able to scale the sides of the container to get out of the fluid. This would suggest that they do not need prolonged contact with the fluid.

Not surprisingly, specticide was the most effective but it was followed by 70% alcohol solution (30 secs to expiration) and then olive oil (1.5 mins). However, they were in a confined space which may contribute to the efficacy of the alcohol so olive oil may be the best bet.

If you are unable to trap the roaches perhaps you can bait them to crawl through one of these fluids. I suspect they are too clever for this but you never know. They might not be able to resist a tasty treat on an island in a sea of olive oil!

On an automotive note, automatic transmission fluid ws tested and had no effect!

Please let me know if you utilize this information as “real life” experience would really enhance their paper! Good luck!


Gekkos are supposed to eat cockroaches and many people have bought them for that purpose.
You could try it. But don’t patronize that irresponsible pet store. A pregnant roach! (What was the owner thinking by not telling you!) In either case, you will probably have to retire the car for a while, just for safety. You can’t have a roach jump on you (or a gekko)and expect to not lose control of the car. - I think, Bebe, it’s time for you and your dad to stop this wierd gifts competition. It’s getting out of hand.


Considering that an adult hissing cockroach is up to 4" long x 1" wide, the gecko might be outclassed. Plus, you might not want to start a whacked out ecosystem in the confines of your vehicle :slight_smile:


I’m still laughing. I’m 78 years old but still remember this event from Jr. Highschool. I captured some baby mice from the basement of the old building, put them in a match box (before lighters) and during a ride home with a friend, opened the box to show them off. One jumped out, got lost in the car and some time later, the mother got “wind” of the event. I don’t know how or how much it cost her to find it but I’ll remember it to my dying day. Margaret Polter Potteiger


DRY ICE IN AN ENCLOSED VEHICLE WITHOUT AN OPEN WINDOW CAN EXPLODE. per my training in transport of frozen tissue samples. I emailed this to the show and got an autoreply. Hope no one gets hurt.


I am suggesting trapping the roaches with one of the methods described here:

The roach has to eat and would readily go for some easily reached food. Sticky traps would work as well, place food in the middle to entice crossing the sticky trap.


I agree with Niel, I think a fogger would do much more than a block of dry-ice. I think they would just go dormant “if” they got cold enough. I don’t think it will bring the entire interior down to -100F. Ice won’t affect them. FOG THEM, but get a “Dry Fog”, and a baseball bat!


I lived for a short time in HW. Leased a “used” car. Got to know the cockroaches living in the car well. Slapping your hand on the seat next to you gets the bugs to move out of the way quickley. Don’t EVER leave a half eaten apple in the car to run into the store. It’s an ugly picture in my mind that I am to this day trying to erase. Finally "bombed’ the car with a commerical bug killer sold for houses. Ignore the warning on the can that says to never use it in a closed interior like… a car. The car will not explode. Just open all the windows and let it air out after using the bomb. Might be a good ideal to drive with the windows down. Using an Albuterol inhaler before driving the car the first or second time might help!! Seems I had to “bomb” the car a few times. I think I did not kill the guys as much as made them mad enough to move to another car. GOOD LUCK you will need it! Sincerly, Been there Done that!


Boric Acid (2O Mule Team/BORAXO variety)clogs their respiratory system. Put some in a sock, tie it off and kick it around the floor of the car. It the active ingredient in “Roach Proof” Most grocery stores have it and it is a nice alternative to poisons. A dead roach will desiccate quickly especially in the winter with the heat running. all you’ll have to do is sweep up the exoskeleton. It wouldn’t at all be like one of Tom’s tomatoes.


These are the ones that people would eat on “Fear Factor”


I had heard that an osage orange (we call them hedge apples) repel cockroaches. We had problems with cockroaches when I lived in a married student housing apartment. One couple down the hall had the university exterminators come in. They had to move everything out of their kitchen. After all was said and done, they thought that whatever the exterminators did caused the cockroaches to multiply. I went out to the country and picked up a couple hedge apples and put them under the sink. I never saw another cockroach in my apartment. My son has an osage orange tree on his property near Nashville, Tennessee. He frequently has people come and ask to have a hedge apple so they can repel cockroaches. I know the tree is common to the midwest. It’s a natural remedy that I found works.


I don’t have a cockroach as a pet, but I’m the type of person who WOULD have one, in the spirit of equality thoughout the animal kingdom. With that in mind, I favor a non-lethal approach to this. Someone mentioned osage oranges as a way to repel the roaches from the car. Here’s one link I have found thus far:

…and it recommends “bay leaves, cucumbers, garlic, or catnip.”

There are some products designed specifically to repel cockroaches humanely:


Ack! My links!


Boric acid is great for killing bugs. I think a bait like a half eaten apple noted in another post, surrounded by a thick layer of BA will do the trick. You can then just vacuum them up. You want to draw the roaches onto the car mat so you can see their bodies. Keep repeating the bait and BA until there are no more for a few days or a week. Vacuum really well to get all the powder up.
I have had great luck with BA sold as Hot Shot roach killer around Ant b Gon round green bait traps for killing bedbugs that I picked up in a fancy hotel. BA works like magic.


Another good way to trap cockroaches is to place lots of beer cans with just an inch beer left in the bottom around the floor of the car. This seems to be far more irresistible to them than ordinary roach traps.
I discovered this accidentally when I was young and poor, and rented an apartment that turned out to have a serious infestation that the landlord would not address. The cans along with boric acid helped keep the problem under control until the lease was up and I could leave.


As a EX Exterminator, Cockroached MUST have water. Where are they getting water inside the cabin? Get rid of the water and the cockroaches disappear.


First, this kid’s parents must inform her that it’s irresponsible to purchase a living creature as a gift for an unsuspecting recipient (no matter how funny it may seem at the time). Responsible parents would insist that it’s up to her to take responsibility for the life of this animal and that she must do everything possible to humanely retrieve the cockroach, endangered solely due to her carelessness. Then, before they engage in vehicular chemical warfare, they should have their daughter go online to obtain a Humane Smart Mousetrap from (SKU 216). These little green translucent plastic items work like a charm, and I’m always lending mine to friends. Without fail, overnight these humane mousetraps have attracted and humanely captured animals as tiny as young field mice so would probably be great for mouse-size Madagascar cockroaches (which also might be a serious threat to other species if they got into the local ecosystem). So why is it that a child can purchase a living creature, but they have to wait until they are sixteen to drive a car? This kid’s parents have their work cut out for them: I hope they don’t allow her to drive until she matures enough to develop some compassion for living creatures before she is allowed to get behind the wheel of a car or there is going to be a lot of road kill left in her wake!