Cockroaches are resilient insects known for their ability to thrive in various environments, particularly in dark and damp areas. Recognizing the signs of cockroach activity, such as droppings, shed skins, and a musty odor, can help homeowners identify and address infestations early.

Due to their rapid reproductive rate and ability to hide in cracks and crevices, cockroach infestations can quickly escalate if left untreated. Infestations can be challenging to eradicate once established, making early detection and intervention essential to control these pests effectively.

What do cockroaches look like?

Cockroaches fluctuate in size, color, and appearance depending on the species. Generally, they have flat, oval-shaped bodies with long antennae and six legs. They vary in color from reddish-brown to dark brown or black. Cockroaches can range from half of an inch to three inches long. They also have wings, although not all cockroach species can fly.


Common roaches to look out for

There are more than 4,500 types of roaches in the world. The most common cockroach species are the American cockroach, the brown-banded cockroach, the German cockroach, and the Oriental cockroach.

American cockroach

The American cockroach is one of the largest cockroach species. Adult roaches typically measure around one and a half inches to two inches long. It's reddish-brown and has wings, although it's not a strong flier. These cockroaches are scavengers and can be found in dark, damp areas like basements and sewers.

Brown-banded cockroach

The brown-banded cockroach is a smaller species. Adults are typically about half an inch long. It's light brown with two distinctive bands across its wings and abdomen. The brown-banded cockroach prefers warm, dry areas.

German cockroach

The German cockroach is another small species, typically about half of an inch to ⅝” long when fully grown. It's light brown or tan with two dark stripes running down its back. German cockroaches are known for their rapid reproduction rates. They prefer warm, humid environments such as kitchens, bathrooms, and areas near food sources. Young German cockroaches are often confused with bed bugs, as they share similar hiding areas.

Oriental cockroach

The Oriental cockroach is typically larger than other common cockroach species, measuring around one inch to one and a quarter inches long as an adult. It's shiny, black, and has a relatively flat body. These roaches are often found in damp, dark areas. They are less agile than other cockroach species and cannot fly.

The cockroach life cycle

The cockroach life cycle includes egg, nymph, and adult stages. Females lay eggs in protective cases called oothecae, which hatch into nymphs. The nymphs molt (shed their exoskeleton) several times until they reach adulthood. Once they reach adulthood, they’re capable of reproducing.


The lifespan of a cockroach is dependent upon the species and environmental conditions. Most adult cockroaches typically live for several months to a year under favorable conditions. Food availability, temperature, and humidity can influence their longevity.

What attracts roaches to your home?

So, what are cockroaches looking for in your home? Three main things: food, water, and shelter.

Cockroaches are nocturnal insects attracted to food sources and can feed on almost anything, including crumbs, garbage, and organic matter. What are cockroaches looking for shelter-wise? Warm and humid areas. They find refuge in dark, cluttered spaces like behind kitchen appliances, cabinets, and cracks or crevices in walls and floors. They may also hide in cardboard boxes and other debris, stacks of newspapers, floor drains, and under counters.


How do you get cockroaches?

Cockroaches enter homes through openings in walls, floors, foundations, and gaps around doors and windows. They may also hitch a ride on items brought into the home, such as groceries, boxes, or furniture. They can migrate from neighboring units through shared walls or utility lines in apartment buildings. Cockroaches are looking for food, water, and shelter, so once they are introduced to a home, they can quickly grow in population, especially in environments with poor sanitation or excess clutter.

A roach’s favorite places to live

What are cockroaches' favorite hiding spots? Cockroaches prefer to live near a reliable water source, such as faucets in a kitchen or bathroom. They are attracted to water and look for moist, humid, and dark spaces. In a house or apartment, you can find a cockroach in:

  • Furniture
  • Cupboards
  • Kitchen sinks
  • Vanity cabinets
  • Drains
  • Appliances
  • Boxes
  • Books
  • Ceilings
  • Cellars
  • Cracks in walls

Since cockroaches are nocturnal, they try to hide during the day. Once sources of light disappear, they come out of their hiding places. Outside of the house, they can live in:

  • Tree trunks
  • Shrubbery
  • Sewers
  • Drain pipes
  • Garbage cans

Unlike many other types of insects, cockroaches don't build nests. They simply find a dark and humid place and live there with their families.

What to do if you see a cockroach

If you notice a cockroach in your home, you must act quickly to prevent further infestation. Begin by cleaning up food crumbs and spills, sealing cracks and crevices, and removing clutter to eliminate hiding spots. Vacuuming is key in areas that have food debris, such as kitchen floors, inside cabinets, drawers, behind the fridge, and under the stove. Cabinet doors, inside appliances, and countertops should all be cleaned with a detergent to remove any residual food debris and grease.

Cockroach infestations can be difficult for a homeowner to control. Contacting a professional pest control company for a thorough inspection and treatment is recommended at the first sign of roaches.


You may notice a few common signs if you have a cockroach infestation. One sign is that you see cockroaches around your home, especially at night when they are most active. Dead roaches may also be found, suggesting an ongoing problem. Spotting roach droppings or egg casings can also indicate a cockroach infestation. Additionally, cockroaches are known to produce a strong, musty odor that gets worse over time.

Are cockroaches dangerous?

Roaches can pose health risks to humans. They can transmit diseases, contaminate food, and trigger allergies and asthma in sensitive individuals. Because of this, it's important to take appropriate measures to eliminate cockroach populations quickly.

Cockroaches can bite, but they generally do not bite humans unless they feel threatened or are in a situation where they lack access to their usual food sources. Bites typically occur when someone is sleeping. Roaches tend to target the feet, hands, and face. Babies are at the greatest risk for bites because they are immobile, and their bedding or clothing may be soiled with food debris or waste.

Should you kill cockroaches when you see them in your home? Killing cockroaches is often necessary to control infestations and reduce health risks associated with their presence. DIY cockroach control solutions can be attempted, but it is best to contact a professional pest control company to locate and completely eradicate the infestation.

Cockroach control and extermination

You should seek professional pest control for roaches as soon as you notice signs of an infestation. Terminix’s professional cockroach exterminators offer thorough solutions to eliminate cockroach infestations. Our technicians can help remove roaches currently in your home and create a plan to help prevent a future cockroach infestation from occurring