Cockroaches are without a doubt one of the nastiest pests I’ve dealt with as a pest control technician. They reproduce quickly, at times seem immortal, and can have serious negative effects on a home.
Cockroach treatment can cost hundreds and sometimes even thousands of dollars, so I understand why homeowners cringe at the sight of even a single cockroach. They often ask me, I saw one cockroach should I be worried?
The good news is just because you’ve spotted one cockroach, it’s unlikely you’ll have to drop the circus tent over your home for fumigation.
In this article, we are going to you a few roach identifiers, as well as a couple of pro tips to help you decide your next move. If after reading through this guide you think you may have a roach infestation brewing, check out my guide on the best cockroach killers here.
The short answer to this question is maybe. Seeing one cockroach does not necessarily mean you have a full-blown infestation on your hands. That said, I do recommend treating the sighting of a cockroach seriously and following my advice below to reduce the chances of an infestation starting or growing out of control.
Potential Reasons Cockroaches Are in Your Home and What to Do About it
The first thing to know about roaches is that they are like every other pest living on this planet. All living things require certain conditions to survive and procreate. So it is important to be aware of whether or not your home is creating conducive conditions for roaches to live. One way to tell if you may have a larger problem is to place Black Flag Roach Traps like these ones on Amazon around your home and see if they catch large amounts of roaches. Below, I’ve listed some other easy ways you can reduce the chance of an infestation.
Water/Moisture is essential for all forms of life to survive. For you, this means trouble if you aren’t careful and avoid appearing to have an “oasis” sign out front for roaches. Ask yourself the questions below.
Do you have any stagnant water constantly pooling up around your home in empty pots outdoor furniture or overturned kid’s toys? Are there any exposed sweating pipes, excessive steam from dryer vents or leaks in your roof? These all provide a reason for cockroaches to further investigate if your house could be their next home.
Cockroach Food Sources
A food source is a first on our list of must-have items for cockroach proliferation. The number one reason cockroaches choose to enter your home is that they have found a readily available food source. From food scraps on unwiped countertops to crumbs left unswept for too long, any food source can attract cockroaches. They will eat pretty much anything and are especially attracted to sugar, starch, grease, cheese, and meat. The more severe the weather outside the more vigilant you must be inside to remove those welcoming foods. To reduce the chances of a cockroach infestation, clean your home thoroughly. Sterilize the surfaces in your home and make sure all food is stored in airtight containers.
Depending on which curve in the globe you live variations in the temperature outside will have a big impact on the activity inside your home. Every region, country, and hemisphere have their own specific lists of “frequent flyers and most unwanted”, with a few crossovers, naturally. In the US we have a few likely suspects, which we will briefly discuss below.
Has the weather recently turned really cold or brutally hot?
Roaches, just like us, will be seeking shelter. Roaches are mostly attracted to warm, damp, dark areas. But not so fast! Some have learned to adapt as they endeavor to take over the planet. Just because they may thrive in certain conditions does not mean they will not attempt to set up shop elsewhere if they find either of the previously mentioned items on this list.
Now that we’ve discussed ideal conditions for your nearly immortal trespasser. Let’s briefly go over some tips on how to identify the one you hope is all alone.
Related Article: 7 Bugs That Look Like Cockroaches
How to Identify the Type of Cockroach
For starters, seeing only one isn’t necessarily a bad sign. Also, the larger they are is a good indicator, in most regions of the US. Sometimes referred to as Tree or Wood roaches.
The American Cockroach is the largest you are likely to see inside your home, especially at night. Oh yeah, by the way, they can fly! They are normally about 1 ½ in and a reddish-brown color. While seeing one of these is cause for alarm, it is far from the worst of the bunch.
Scout the areas of your home fitting the previous descriptions we listed for additional clues such as droppings or musty odors, which would indicate a larger issue. The good news is, while the presence of roaches can lead to the exposure germs, worms, and disease, the American Cockroach is not especially known as “the ones to worry about”.
If you sight a roach in the middle of the day, there is a good chance to it is a Wood Roach or Pennsylvania Wood Roach. There just a bit smaller that than The American, yet unlike many other species’ nocturnal proclivity, they are attracted to light. This makes for many more daytime sightings of wood roaches. The Pennsylvania Wood Roach will also be a darker brown color.
Another common US resident is the Oriental Cockroach. Similar in size to the Pennsylvania Wood Roach only and even darker brown or black color with (thankfully) non-functioning wings situated differently depending on the sex.
Lastly and certainly the worst, if you see a German Roach you should strongly consider calling for backup. The dreaded German Cockroach is small in nature but large in nasty. They typically measure in at under ½”. The only positive thing to mention about these small light brown to tan color roaches is that they do not fly. That said, everything horrific you have ever heard about roaches rings true for the German Roach.
Roaches Can Cause Thousands of Dollars of Damage!
German Cockroaches are usually not found alone, so if you do happen to see just one cockroach, it is likely not a German Cockroach. When you find German Roaches you will typically find them in groups of dozens if not hundreds of Roaches. For instance, yours truly had the distinct privilege of a German Roach treatment a few months ago. The small raised home I was called out to had been unoccupied for some weeks.
The home was poorly sealed at the entrances and the floors provided multiple entry points. There was also evidence of moisture damage and food sources were plentiful. The home had was the opposite of well looked after, and as such the residents were forced to evacuate as the infestation of German roaches had grown to the thousands!
Treatment for such an issue can cost hundreds and the damage can total in the thousands as the roaches will lay eggs in every possible minuscule opening they can find. The German Cockroach loves to travel as well. They love to go home with people from the grocery store or a restaurant. They may even hitch a ride from a commercial facility bringing anything from common germs to the rare case of dysentery. Just one roach can produce 384 more roaches in about 3 weeks. They are commonly found in drawers and cabinets or areas that have been left uncleaned or damp and dark. Bathrooms and basements will also be gathering places.
If you spot one German Cockroach we advise seeking Pest Control Solutions immediately as well employing a holistic prevention plan including removing or remedying any conducive conditions asap.
So Is it one or one hundred? The only way to know, unfortunately, is to get a closer look at the insect, at a thermometer, at your roof basement, kitchen, shed, etc. Then and only will can you be sure if your eye-to-1000 eyes with a lone straggler or the lookout for a very large family of the worst house guests in history!
Related Article: 11 Best Cockroach killers
My name is Blane and I’m a life-long resident of Southeastern Louisiana. I’ve been working as Pest Control Technician and Inspector for about 1.5 years now.
I’ve worked in many other industries as well, including consulting, managing, as well as at the ground level in fields including Food Service, Corporate Automotive sales, and finance. Whether it be providing counsel, content, or hands-on support; my goal remains to add value to the lives of the people I serve.
If you have any questions regarding pest control, leave them below. I would be happy to help you out in any way I can.