The other day, I was sitting in bed watching some random clips of J-TV shows on YouTube. I looked up while the next video was loading, and a massive cockroach ran across in front of me.
By the time I'd picked up a can of bug spray, it'd scuttled off.
Having cockroach issues in an apartment in Japan feels worse, somehow. Aside from the language barrier, I mean. You might be stuck with a landlord or building manager who isn't helpful. You might get blamed for leaving trash out, with no solutions forthcoming.
Luckily, I had help, and it arrived quickly. The building owner here suggested I use something called Varsan - バルサン in Japanese - made by Lion. It smokes the little (and bigger) buggers out and suffocates them.
It's super effective... on humans
To some people, reaching straight for the Varsan is the 'nuclear' option. Didn't you try putting traps down by the front door first? Or some sprinkles of poison powder?
I'm not that kind of person.
Also, I live on the 6th floor of my building. What, are they coming up in the lift or something? There's clearly a problem, and I want rid of it ASAP.
This post is about the basic smoke version of Varsan. There's a gas one, and a water-based one, and a smokeless one. Maybe I could've tried a different way, but this is the free one I was given.
What's gonna bother you more?
Prepping a room to be smoked out is a faff.
Lion's advice on using Varsan is disconcertingly thorough. Everything that could potentially be 'touched' by smoke has to either be covered or put outside for the duration.
And I do mean everything. All my clothes, all kitchen/cooking utensils, food, all electronic equipment, and my whole bed.
Some of this was simple enough. Shoving shoes into plastic bags, wrapping the TV, putting a bunch of stuff out on the balcony. No problem. Then came the hard parts.
I don't know if you've ever attempted to wrap a single mattress in plastic. Or tape A2 bits of newspaper around a microwave. It took me me several hours just to cover stuff up.
This stuff takes time, and a lot of it
Once you've set a tin of smoke-style Varsan off in the room, you get the hell out. And you stay the hell out for at least 3 hours. Some other types don't need as long to be effective.
The lid's got a handy surface on it for striking a flame. Once the smoke starts, it pours from the top of that tin like nobody's business.
The best time to do this was when I headed out to work. Strike, smoke, go. Except I spent those 9 hours at my desk worrying about it.
At least I remembered to cover the smoke alarm! But that does leave concerns about fire safety. Lion suggests you can use Varsan when you go away on holiday. I wouldn't want to leave my place like that for a week or more.
That 'yessss' moment afterwards
Maybe I just live in a really small apartment, but the smoke treatment worked pretty well.
On getting home, I had to vent the room and hoover/sweep thoroughly for dead bugs. When I moved the wardrobe, the huge cockroach I failed to catch was lying stone dead underneath. I may or may not have done a victory dance.
There were some other smaller bug corpses scattered around. Not so many that I suspected a nest, but enough that I felt like it'd been worth doing.
But wait, there's more
I have to do it all again in about a fortnight. To make sure I catch any bugs that were still eggs the first time. Varsan doesn't work on eggs, so you have to wait until they hatch. If anything changes in 2 weeks, I'll post an update.