If you’re researching signs of cockroaches, it’s safe to say there is something strange going on in your kitchen. Perhaps, some creatures living there who have no business being there.
As well as being extremely widespread, cockroaches are very secretive. They actively hide from the light and seek out dark cracks and crevices where they can make their cockroach-y homes without being disturbed.
And when you consider that a single female cockroach can have as many as 200 babies in less than a year, it’s easy to see how quickly a cockroach problem can get out of hand.
Signs of Cockroaches
Early detection is essential when it comes to solving a cockroach problem. So how do you know when you have cockroaches?
These sneaky insects will do their very best to avoid being found.
But they can’t stay hidden forever. Once you know what to look for, there are a few surefire signs of cockroaches in your home that will let you know if you’ve been invaded by a platoon of these disease-spreading insects.
Look for the following signs of roaches before it’s too late!
Signs of Roaches #1. Droppings
Cockroaches are fast-moving and highly mobile insects. When surprised, they will quickly run and hide in the nearest tight spot. They actively avoid light. So more often than not, what gives them away is their droppings.
Cockroaches aren’t the least bit particular about where they go to the bathroom. This is part of what makes them such a disgusting pest, but it also makes them easier to identify. Droppings can’t run.
The most common species of cockroach in human homes, the German cockroach, leaves brown-black droppings that look almost like specs of pepper or coffee grounds.
Some larger species, such as the American cockroach, can leave behind droppings that are closer in size to a grain of rice.
Cockroaches will leave the droppings anywhere, but pay special attention underneath kitchen appliances, around electrical outlets, and inside kitchen cabinets. These are exactly the kind of places that roaches love to hide.
Signs of Roaches #2. Egg Casings
Female cockroaches give birth to multiple eggs at the time. Before these eggs hatch, the female cockroach will carry them around in an egg case that is attached to her body.
Some species drop these egg cases early, but the German cockroach carries them with her until they are almost ready to hatch. Only when the eggs are around 24 hours from hatching will she drop the egg case and leave her young to fend for themselves.
German cockroach egg cases, or ootheca if you want to be fancy about it, are light brown in color. They are generally around 0.24- 0.35 inches in length.
An American cockroach’s egg case is approximately 0.3 inches long, with a dark brown color.
Scroll down for pictures of what the egg casings look like for various cockroach types. It’s not pretty but hey, a picture is worth a thousand words, right?
The females stick the egg cases in place with their saliva, so check around water pipes, behind appliances, and around cracks and crevices in kitchen cabinets.
Signs of Roaches #3. Your Neighbors
If you live in a detached home, good for you. Roaches can survive outdoors for short periods, but the species that generally infest human homes like to stay indoors.
That strip of grass or pavement between you and your neighbors could save you from a cockroach infestation.
But if you share walls with your neighbors, in an apartment or a townhome, it’s entirely possible that you will share their cockroach problem.
Cockroaches travel very easily from one unit to another, usually via water pipes but also by way of heating ducts and electrical conduits.
If your neighbors have cockroaches, it’s a good idea to consider sealing any gaps and cracks that connect your home to theirs. Pay special attention to heat and water pipes, as cockroaches love heat and high humidity.
You can also make your home less attractive to cockroaches by maintaining good hygiene. If they can’t find anything to eat, cockroaches will never establish a strong presence in your home.
Remember the cockroaches can survive on very little food, and will eat almost anything when they get hungry enough.
Wipe up any food spills as soon as they happen, and don’t forget that the smallest crumb could feed a hungry cockroach and make it think that your kitchen isn’t such a bad place to hang out.
Signs of Roaches #4. A Musty Odor
This tip is a little more subjective. It’s hard to describe a smell, and until someone invents the technology to share aromas over the Internet, it’s difficult to say how cockroaches smell.
But they do.
German cockroaches, in particular, are known for their distinctive oily, musty smell. Unless you have the nose of a police dog, you’re never going to smell a single roach in your home.
But once they have established a sizable population, you may notice the smell that emanates from the areas where they hide.
Signs of Roaches #5. Seeing a Cockroach
Seeing a cockroach with your own eyes is an obvious sign that you have a problem, but it’s not as straightforward as it sounds. Cockroaches are very fast-moving, able to travel at up to 50 body lengths per second, which is the equivalent of a human running at 230 mph.
Blink, and you will miss them.
When you see that first cockroach, it can be hard to believe your eyes. Especially if you’ve never seen one before. They disappear so quickly that you might start to think you imagined it. In fact, you might hope that you did.
Cockroaches are nocturnal, so they are often seen at night. Flick on the kitchen lights, and you may catch them in the act of foraging for food.
Once the population grows, you will start to see them during the day. The more roaches you have, the more food they will need to sustain them, and the more time they will spend out searching for it.
No one wants to spend their time researching cockroaches, but it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the species most likely to be encountered in the home.
The German cockroach is the most common kind of cockroach. A full-grown member of the species will reach 0.5 to 0.63 inches in length. They are tan to dark brown in color, with long threadlike antenna, a small head relative to their body size and long wings to cover their bodies.
Brown-banded cockroaches are similar in size to German roaches. They can be identified by the two light-colored bands across their dark bodies.
American cockroaches are much bigger, around 1.1 to 2.1 inches in length when fully grown. The color varies from light brown to very dark brown. They have wings and are capable of gliding, though they are poor flyers.
Oriental cockroaches are a little smaller than their American cousins, with a body length of 0.7 to 1.2 inches. They are darker than other species, appearing almost black in color.
What’s the worst thing about seeing a cockroach in your home? Not the shock. Not the shame. It’s the knowledge that if you’ve seen one, there are probably more.
Cockroaches are prolific breeders, and while it’s quite possible to bring a single individual home from the store or restaurant, if it’s an adult female, it won’t stay lonely for long.
A cockroach in your home will quickly begin laying eggs and establishing a population.
So if you see a cockroach in your home, there’s no time to waste. Start cleaning, sealing up gaps and cracks and preparing for treatment immediately. These nasty creatures don’t go away by themselves.