Common Signs of a Cockroach Infestation

cockroach infestation

Roaches are rolling their way across America. 14 million homeowners reported seeing roaches in their homes in 2019 alone.

You should expect a cockroach infestation in your home sooner rather than later. But you can prepare yourself for the swarms. Your first step is to understand what the most common signs of a cockroach infestation are.


What are the most obvious signs of an infestation? What can contribute to an infestation? How can you clean your home of roaches?

Answer these questions and you can regain control of your house in no time. Here is your comprehensive guide.

Seeing Cockroaches in Your Home

The most obvious sign of a roach infestation is to spot a cockroach. Cockroaches prefer areas with access to food. This means you are likely to spot a roach in your kitchen or pantry.

However, roaches also like areas that are dark. They are fast enough that if you flick the lights on, they can run and hide underneath an object before you can see them.

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If you suspect roaches are in your home, you should look in all parts of your kitchen and pantry. Take a look at low-lying cabinets and containers of food.

If you don’t see anything, you should go into your basement. Use a flashlight so the roaches can’t see what light you are using.

Roaches are small enough to hide in crevices or cracks in your walls and floors. You may need to look underneath or behind objects in order to spot them.

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Even if you only find one cockroach, you should assume you have a massive infestation. You should call a roach exterminator and tell them where you have spotted the roach. They may be in other parts of your house.

Keep in mind that not all cockroaches look alike. Familiarize yourself with different species of cockroaches so you can identify them clearly.

You should also remember that you may mistake a different pest for a roach. The only way you can know if you have a roach infestation is if you call an exterminator.

Seeing Cockroaches in Your Neighbor’s Home

If roach infestations are occurring in your neighborhood, you are at high risk of experiencing one yourself. Roaches can crawl between houses, especially if there are no fences blocking them.


If you hear from a neighbor about cockroaches in their home, you should do an inspection of your home. After you notice an infestation, you should tell your neighbors so they can monitor their homes for signs of cockroaches.

Even if everything seems okay, you should still take steps to protect your home. Seal any gaps in your doors and windows with strips.

Place containers of food on high shelves and make sure they have tight seals. Keep in mind that cockroaches can live without food for a few days, so you need to adopt stronger measures in order to get rid of them permanently.

Cockroach Droppings

Not all cockroaches leave the same droppings. Some cockroaches leave droppings that resemble peppercorns or coffee grounds.

Others look like rice or corn. You can also find smeared droppings on your walls, floors, and furniture.

As with live cockroaches, you can find droppings in dark locations near food supplies. Look in between drawers, underneath cabinets, and on shelves with many boxes of food.

When droppings are fresh, they tend to be round or oval. As they get older, they may become flattened because they lose moisture and roaches walk over them. If you spot flattened or dry droppings, you may have a large infestation.

Do not touch droppings with your bare hands, as they can contain harmful pathogens. You should wear a mask if you are walking or crouching near them as well. They can make a bad odor, and bacteria can spread into the air.

You can clean up droppings. You should clean them up if you have pets, as they can eat the droppings.

Put a fresh bag in your vacuum cleaner and use the hose to suck the droppings up. Clean the hose using soap and water so you remove any residue.

You can also use soap and water to scrub the surfaces the droppings were on. If you spot streaks or smell something bad, you can use a disinfectant cleaner to wipe the surfaces down. Remember where you spotted the droppings and tell an exterminator where they were.

Other Parts of Cockroaches

In addition to droppings, you can spot other detritus from roaches. Cockroaches do not create nests or mounds, so you may need to look throughout your house for a cockroach infestation sign.

Egg Casings

You can find egg casings in many locations, including on bookshelves and underneath beds. Egg casings are long ovals, so they may be easy to spot from a distance. Most casings are brown, resembling a mahogany chip or a walnut.

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One casing can hold many cockroach eggs inside of it. The eggs may still be alive, so be careful when handling the casing.

As with droppings, you can clean the casings up by using a vacuum cleaner. You should do an inspection to make sure there are no live cockroaches in the area. Roaches tend to gather together in spots to leave their eggs, so you may unsettle a large group of bugs if you’re not careful.

Shed Exoskeletons

Exoskeletons are the tough outer shells of roaches. As young roaches get older, they shed their exoskeletons and grow new ones.

The skeletons are very small and tough, so you may discover them by accidentally stepping on one. They can appear tan, red, or brown. Some roaches eat other roaches’ exoskeletons, so you find ones that are nibbled on or chipped.

If you spot a roach that is white or pale, it may have just shed its exoskeleton. Take a look at the floor in the area you spotted the insect and see if you find the skeleton.

You can remove exoskeletons with a vacuum cleaner or a broom. The skeletons can have a strong odor, so you may want to wear a mask or spray oil into the air so it’s not overpowering.

Dead Roaches

Dead roaches may resemble live roaches, only that they are lying on their back and are not moving. They usually indicate that the infestation is large and running out of food and space to move.

Dead roaches release oleic acid, which can smell like mold. You can smell it from a distance, and it may be overpowering.

Live roaches can also smell the acid, and they will crawl to find the dead insect. This can attract insects from outside your house and make your infestation worse.

You must remove dead roaches as soon as possible. Vacuum up the bodies, place the bag in the trash, and move it away from your house. Spray deterrents like peppermint oil in the air and on the ground to drive roaches away.

Cockroaches can play dead for a few minutes. If you spot a seemingly dead roach, you may want to turn off the lights and see if you notice it moving.

Unpleasant Odors

Cockroaches can release a number of odors. Droppings can smell like mold, rotten oil, or trash. The oleic oil from dead roaches usually smells like mold.

Roaches communicate with each other using pheromones. When a roach finds a food source, it will secrete a pheromone to let other roaches know about the food. You may be able to smell this pheromone, and it can smell like mildew or soot.

An odor may be your first sign that you have an infestation. However, a moldy or musty smell can come from other insects as well as mold. You need to find other signs in order to know for sure that you have roaches in your home.

You should circulate the air in your home to make the pheromones harder to find. Feel free to spread a powerful oil that can deter or confuse your roaches as well.


Allergic Reactions

Roaches can produce powerful allergic reactions. Symptoms vary from person to person, and some people may experience no symptoms whatsoever.

In general, the signs of a cockroach allergy include coughing and nasal congestion. You may have a runny nose, or you may find it hard to breathe through your nose. Some people experience sinus and ear infections.

Your eyes can become itchy or blurry, especially if you kneel near areas where there are droppings or dead roaches. Your nose can become itchy as well.

If you touch roaches, you may experience a skin rash. If you have a pre-existing condition like asthma, your symptoms may get worse. You may even have asthma attacks, which can send you to the hospital.

You may only experience symptoms when you go into a room with roaches. Your symptoms may improve as soon as you step away and inhale clean air. If you notice that your symptoms occur only in one room, you need to investigate that room for roaches.

Symptoms of a cockroach allergy overlap with allergic reactions to other insects. They also overlap with mold, mildew, and dust allergies. You should call someone and ask them to inspect your home so you don’t sicken yourself more.

Property Damage

Cockroaches can cause extensive property damage, even if the infestation is relatively new. Roaches can get inside electric appliances and destroy their wires. They can also eat wood and lay eggs inside furniture, destroying bedding and other pieces of property within a few days.

If roaches can smell or see the food inside containers, they can eat their way through the containers. They can drop food on the ground, creating a mess and attracting other pests to your property.

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If you notice holes in your wiring or food containers, you should assume you have a roach problem. After an infestation, you should check the items in the affected rooms and make sure they are functional. You may need to throw out your bedding in order to ensure there are no eggs in your house.

Roaches can damage the foundation and support structures in your walls. You must get a property inspection to make sure your house is safe to live in.

Gaps in Your Walling

The more gaps you have in your walls, the more vulnerable you are to an insect infestation. Cockroaches can force their bodies through extremely small gaps. They may chip away at small gaps, creating bigger ones.

Walk around your house and inspect the walls and windows for any signs of deterioration. Add caulking to any small gaps in your walls and install strips to seal large gaps.

You should follow a few tips to keep your backyard bug free. The fewer roaches you have in your yard, the fewer you will have in your home. Move plants and mounds of dirt away from your house to make it harder for roaches to crawl into your home.

If you cannot seal a gap, you should hire a home renovator to do so. You can also spread cayenne or garlic powder near the gap, which can drive roaches and other insects away. Roaches do not like to be in direct sunlight, so open the curtains on the windows near the gaps.

Getting Rid of a Cockroach Infestation

A cockroach infestation can appear throughout your home. You can spot roaches, but you are more likely to find droppings, exoskeletons, and eggs. You are also more likely to smell the pheromones and leftover body parts of roaches.

Allergic reactions and property damage can be signs of roaches, but they can be signs of other problems as well. Conduct a top-to-bottom inspection of your home and take notes of where you notice signs of roaches.


Then call an exterminator who can get rid of each and every roach. Pest Extinct serves homeowners throughout America. Get your free quote today.

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