What Do Cockroach Eggs Look Like?

Finding a cockroach in your home is a clear sign that you might have a few roaches. On the other hand, finding cockroach eggs in your home is a telltale sign that you have a cockroach infestation. The difference can be downright frightening, so the sooner you look for and address roach eggs in your home, the safer your family will be from the disease and filth roaches carry with them.

Roach egg basics

Roaches don’t just lay one single egg at a time, they lay multiple eggs. These eggs are all contained in one single casing, called an ootheca. Oothecae are made of a protein substance produced by the female roach. As this substance ages – often just a few hours – it hardens, keeping the cockroach eggs inside safe from predators and the elements.

The number of eggs inside each ootheca – and where the ootheca can be found – differs by cockroach species. Some roaches have higher reproductive rates, while some multiply slower. This means some oothecae you find will have a higher number of eggs inside. Some types of roaches carry their ootheca around with them until the eggs inside are ready to hatch, while others attach the ootheca to sheltered hiding places. This means that the oothecae of certain roach species will be much harder to find and eliminate before they hatch dozens of roach nymphs.

Cockroach eggs by species

To illustrate the differences in cockroach reproduction, here’s a look at some basic information on roach eggs by the species.

  • The most common roach in America is the German cockroach. German cockroaches mate quickly. One female and her offspring can infest a home with more than 30,000 cockroaches in just a single year. German cockroach oothecae hold between 20 and 40 eggs each. The adult female roach carries her ootheca around with her until the eggs are ready to hatch. The egg casing can be seen protruding one-quarter of an inch out of her abdomen. About 24 hours before the eggs are ready to hatch, the female drops the ootheca in a concealed location. This short window makes these particular cockroach eggs extremely difficult to find and eradicate, further increasing your risk of infestation.

  • The brown-banded cockroach attaches her reddish- to yellowish-brown oothecae to walls, ceilings, crawl spaces, furniture, bedding and other objects around your home. If these items are moved, the roach infestation quickly spreads to other rooms around the home. The average brown-banded female produces around 20 oothecae in her lifetime, each containing between 10 and 18 roach eggs.

  • The Australian cockroach drops oothecae in sheltered areas of your home, close to food sources. The female hides the egg casings in tight crevices and underneath refuse or pliable material (e.g. moist wood). This makes these oothecae extremely hard to find and treat. About one month after an ootheca is hidden, between 16 and 24 nymphs will hatch and crawl out. Since adult female Australian cockroaches drop one ootheca every 10 days, they can produce between 12 and 30 oothecae during their lifespan. That’s as many as 720 roaches in 300 days, from just one female.

  • An Oriental cockroach produces an ootheca that is dark reddish-brown in color. This egg casing is slightly more inflated than other species’, because the eggs are vertically lined up in pairs inside of the casing. Each ootheca contains approximately 16 Oriental cockroach eggs. The female carries her ootheca around between 12 hours and five days, and then deposits it in a warm, sheltered area that is close to a food source. On average, a female Oriental cockroach will produce eight oothecae during her lifetime, but can produce many more.

There are many other species of roaches, including the Asian cockroach, Cuban cockroach, Florida woods cockroach, smoky brown cockroach, Surinam cockroach and the wood cockroach. Each type of cockroach has distinctive reproductive traits, but their oothecae are fairly similar across the species. Here’s what else you need to know about finding and getting rid of roach eggs.

How to identify cockroach eggs

Oothecae vary in appearance by the species. In general, most oothecae are very small, between 0.07 and 0.19 inches in length. When first formed, they can be white in color, but as they age, they darken and harden. Many species of cockroaches produce dark brown to reddish-brown oothecae. Some of these egg casings have ridges, such as those produced by the brown-banded and German cockroaches. Other oothecae are bloated and have no ridges, such as the ones made by American and Oriental cockroaches.

Where to look for roach eggs

Where roaches deposit their oothecae also varies by species, but in general, they will not make it easy for you to find. Some species carry the egg cases around with them until the cockroach eggs inside are near ready to hatch, but most deposit the oothecae in secure locations, away from harm.

You should look in kitchens, bathrooms, basements, attics and any other areas where you’ve found evidence of cockroaches. Many oothecae will be placed close to cockroach food sources by the female. This is because most nymphs will be left to fend for themselves once they hatch, so the mother at least places them in areas where they will be able to easily find food. Of course, the oothecae are also likely to be camouflaged and even ‟glued” to the item they are attached to, so you’ll have to do more than just scratch the surface.

Inspect pantries, closets, cabinets, drawers, crawl spaces and basements. Check around baseboards, pipes, stairs, furniture legs, picture frames, clocks and bedding. Look underneath curled wallpaper and floor tiles. Check around food preparation and storage areas. Any areas where garbage or debris is stored should be thoroughly investigated, as should other storage areas containing papers and cardboard boxes. Essentially, roach eggs can be attached anywhere the female roach feels is a favorable environment – out of the way, warm temperatures, ample food nearby and either very dry or very damp, depending on the species.

What to do if you find cockroach eggs

Finding cockroach eggs is a hallmark sign of a roach infestation. One is either underway or about to explode into an invasion of filth that puts your entire family in jeopardy. The first and only thing that you should do when you find roach eggs, is to contact Terminix®. Get your free pest estimate today, because the only eggs you want in your home, are the ones in your refrigerator.