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Roaches in my compost :(

Tucson, AZ

I checked on the progress of my compost today as I have pulled my pumpkins and watermelon and I'm trying to prepare my plot for fall. It is a beautiful dark, rich compost BUT it is climbing with nasty roaches. I mean full of them. Most over and inch long. They completely creep me out. Do I just need to throw all my beautiful compost into the trash? My backyard is very closed in as I live in a track development so I can't afford to dump it over, I'd have roaches everywhere and so would my neighbors. Is there anything I can do or is it just trash?

Lincoln, NE(Zone 5a)

I have the same problem too... icky icky icky! Ants, too. We use it anyway, but I'd sure love to find something to do to make it better. I thought about sprinkling diatomaceous earth in, which would kill off the roaches, but it would also kill off the worms and other "good guys" who hang out in there degrading stuff.

I was told at some point that the presence of lots of bugs in my compost may mean it's not getting hot enough. If a pile is really cooking, it's supposed to kill off anything that's living there. Not sure if that's right, but I guess it makes sense. I know my piles are on the small side, and we don't pay any attention to keeping the green/brown ratio right--just throw whatever we have on in. I've wondered about adding an accelerating agent to heat things up, and I wonder if that would help with the bugs too?

Tucson, AZ

I'm certain that you are right. I wonder too, if I should take my bin off the ground next time. I use a Rubbermade plastic storage container with a lid. I've drilled holes on all sides (including the top and bottom) and that is what I compost in. My thoughts, are that something was able to get in, laid eggs, and the roaches got too big to crawl out. They are the big water ones so they are extra creepy. I'm afraid to even look in there now, let alone get my hands in a use it. Such a shame. My compost was beautiful. I don't use manuer or worms, how else do you get it hot enough?

Lincoln, NE(Zone 5a)

I am far far far from expert, but I know that grass clippings can get compost really hot as they break down. Also, there are commercial compost starters that you can buy, that I think have a good mixture of bugs to get things cooking, especially when you have the right mix of "greens" and "browns".

It just doesn't seem right that you should just trash your hard-earned compost. You might try asking over in the Soil & Composting forum. They know all about this stuff! Maybe they know how to fix it.

Good luck!

Pawling, NY(Zone 5b)

We don't compost yet but I know that the bag of grass clipping that accidentally got soaked by rain heated up so much that DH had trouble touching it to haul it out to the curb for the garbage collectors.. So, apparantly wet grass clippings definitely heats up the compost..

Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

Where I live fire ants are a huge problem and they do love to get in my compost. Each summer I treat the spot beneath my compost bin with fire ant poison and then hubby sets it up on bricks. It works real well keeping fire ants out and I haven't had any other creepy crawlies in there either so you might want to try it with your bin.

Tucson, AZ

NatureLover~ That is a fabulous idea, both the spray and the bricks.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Is there any chance that you put cooked food or raw meat into your bin to attract the roaches, also, my bins and boxes are bottomless, this allows excess moisture to seep out, it allows air to circulate and is an easy way to lift the sides off to turn the compost if you do that, I would perhaps give a call to your environment office to ask for advice as to how to get rid without killing off the good bugs, and cause the roaches to move to the neighbours, but do remember, these roaches could find a way out and invade you and your neighbours in time, I dont think you need to throw away your compost if you can get it cleaned up, but they will be breading like fury. hope you get sorted out very soon and you can start off a new compost pile with better luck. WeeNel.

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