Baby Cockroaches: Should You Be Worried?

Cockroaches are found around the world, and date back to before the dinosaurs. There are thousands of species worldwide, about 55 of which are found in the United States. Of these, the German, Oriental, American, brown-banded and smoky brown cockroaches are most likely to be found making themselves at home near people. An adult cockroach is an easily identified – if unwelcome – guest in your home, but what do you need to know about baby cockroaches? Keep reading to find out.

A timely start

Cockroaches, like many insects, go through three stages of development: egg, nymph and adult. It is cockroach nymphs that are often referred to as baby cockroaches. Size may vary depending on the species, but all cockroach nymphs will undergo a process called molting. These insects have a hardened exoskeleton, and they must shed – or molt – it in order to grow. After molting, the nymph may appear white or gray, and their bodies are soft until the new exoskeleton hardens. Molts are often called instars, and depending on the species, a baby cockroach may go through five to 10 instars before reaching adulthood. The process can take anywhere from six weeks, to over one year.

Strength in numbers

If you've seen one, you haven't seen them all. Most cockroach species lay between six and 40 eggs at a time, and they will lay multiple batches throughout their lifetime. This means that seeing one baby cockroach means there are potentially hundreds more nearby. However, control methods vary depending on the species, so proper cockroach identification – of nymphs and adults – is key.

An American story

American cockroach nymphs start out as about one-quarter of an inch long. With each instar they will grow, until they reach adulthood, at which point they will be 1.5 to 2 inches long. Nymphs change from gray-brown to the reddish-brown of an adult roach, and also develop the "halo" marking behind the head. These roaches are most often found outside near sewers and garbage, though they also may hide in trees. Indoors they seek out moisture and warmth, and are often found in storage areas and garages. Adults can fly, but are not strong fliers.

German émigrés

The German cockroach is considered to be a major urban nuisance. Nymphs are about one-eighth of an inch long, and will wind up being one-half to five-eighths inches long as adults. The nymphs are smaller, wingless versions of the adults and are dark in color, except for a lighter brown patch in the center of their backs. Adults are pale brown or tan, with two dark, parallel lines behind the head. They cannot survive in unpopulated areas as they feed on garbage and need warmth and moisture. They are most commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms. Adults have wings, but do not fly.

Brown-banded together

The brown-banded cockroach is often resistant to common treatments. It is also considered a major urban pest. Nymphs start at around one-eighth of an inch long, and adults are about one-half of an inch long. Both nymphs and adults are shades of brown, and have two wide, brown bands on their abdomen. Males are larger than females and will fly when disturbed. Brown-banded cockroaches are able to survive in dryer conditions than other roaches, so can be found around the home, though they tend to stay close to warmth and food.

Oriental importance

Oriental cockroaches are also called water bugs, because of their fondness for water. Nymphs are about one-quarter of an inch long initially, and a reddish-brown color. As they develop, they will grow to be 1 to 1.25 of an inch long and a dark black color. Adults have wings, but do not fly. These roaches are primarily found outdoors or in crawl spaces, basements and sewer lines, as they like dark, damp locations that are semi-cool.

Smoky brown flyers

The smoky brown cockroach is one of the most active species. The baby cockroaches are roughly three-eighths of an inch long and have black bodies with white markings. During their instars they turn into a shade of mahogany before becoming the smoky-brown color associated with the adults. Smoky brown adults are 1 to 1.5 inches in length and they are known to fly. They are most often found outdoors in vegetation, mulch, logs or gutters. Indoors they are found in crawl spaces and attics.

Cockroaches carry bacterium that can cause diseases, and they are not a welcome addition to your home. If you are seeing adult or baby cockroaches, you know there are more in hiding. Don't be afraid – call for backup. Terminix® has more than 85 years of experience leading the charge against these home invaders. Call today for your free pest estimate.