Cockroaches are one of the most common and unpleasant household pests in the world. A cockroach infestation is gross, unsettling, and potentially health-threatening, but how many roaches does it take to cause a problem?
If I see one cockroach, are there more?
If you find one cockroach in your house, the first question that comes to mind is… are there more? Is a single cockroach cause for concern, or not?
Unfortunately, spotting a cockroach in your home means there are almost certainly more of them lurking nearby. Of course, it’s possible that a single cockroach wandered into your home and you had the good fortune to spot it before it started breeding. But, realistically, spotting a cockroach (even just one) is usually a sign of infestation.
Cockroaches like company, so when you see a single cockroach it is usually one of a dozen, hundred, or even thousand-strong colony.
How to know if there is a bigger problem
Roaches are mainly nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night. Therefore, you’re generally unlikely to see them unless you turn on the kitchen light late at night, sending them scattering for cover.
If you see a cockroach during the day, get ready to panic. Roaches will usually only brave the daylight if they have to, thanks to overcrowding or food shortages. So, spotting a daytime cockroach – even just one – can be a sign of serious, long-term infestation.
Other signs of cockroach infestation
If you see a cockroach in your house, the first thing you should do is look for other signs of infestation. This will tell you straight away if your cockroach was operating alone, or is part of a larger colony. Signs of a cockroach infestation include:
Roaches poop a lot, so feces are a tell-tale sign of infestation. Check behind kitchen appliances (like the stove and refrigerator) inside cupboards and pantries and under sinks for roach droppings, which may look like:
- Brown stains
- Pepper-like specks
- Coffee grounds
- Oval pellets
Baby roaches will shed their skins several times as they grow. If you spot the light brown, cockroach-shaped skin casks around your home, you’ll know you have a breeding colony nearby.
Roaches breed rapidly, which is why finding even just one is often a sign of trouble. Instead of laying single eggs, cockroaches produce egg cases (called oothecae). These long, brown capsules are filled with eggs and a sure sign that you have a breeding colony on your hands. They may be found anywhere there are other signs of roach activity (like feces, skin casks, and live or dead bugs).
Live or dead bugs
If you see one cockroach, check out the dark, concealed corners of your home for more bugs, live or dead. This will give you an idea of where their nest is, which will confirm whether or not you have an infestation and can also help with your eradication efforts.
What to do if you see a cockroach?
1. Locate the colony
Grab a flashlight and hunt out the rest of the roaches. Cockroaches will often congregate in dark, concealed areas (e.g., under appliances, behind boxes, inside cupboards, under sinks), and finding these hotspots is key for effective eradication. You can also use glue traps to identify areas with high levels of cockroach activity.
You’ll know you’ve located the colony when you see large numbers of live and dead bugs, skin casks, egg cases, and droppings in a concentrated area.
2. Set up gel bait stations
Once you know where your roaches are hanging out, you can get to work exterminating the colony. Poison gel baits are a highly effective way to kill a large number of cockroaches, and will significantly reduce the population in your home.
Apply gel bait in cracks and crevices around your home, concentrating on areas that have high levels of cockroach activity. Alternatively, you can set up bait stations near active colonies.
3. Use boric acid powder
If you have a large cockroach infestation, poison baits alone are unlikely to get the job done. You can double down on your extermination efforts by also using boric acid powder, which is deadly to roaches but largely non-toxic for humans and other animals.
4. Remove egg cases
Each cockroach egg case can contain up to 50 eggs, so you’ll want to remove and destroy these immediately. Gather up all the egg cases you can find, take them outside and either squish them or douse them with pesticides or boric acid.
Finally, dispose of the destroyed egg cases in the outdoor trash (preferably in a sealed container).
5. Block entry points
It’s very important to find out how the cockroaches got into your home, as this will help you to stop more from getting in and to prevent future infestations. Look around for gaps and cracks in the exterior of your home, which may be found around doors and windows, or around vents and pipes. Block these up with caulk to stop roaches (and other creepy crawlies) from using them as an entry point.
6. Call an expert
If your cockroach infestation is out of control, you may need the services of a professional exterminator. Large numbers of cockroaches in the home can pose a serious health risk to inhabitants so, if you’re losing the war on your infestation, call on the experts for help.
If you find one cockroach, should you be worried? Absolutely!
Roaches rarely hang out alone, so a single cockroach is almost always a sign of a larger infestation. This is especially true if you spot one during the day, as cockroaches are nocturnal creatures and will only venture out during daylight if they are being crowded out of their usual hiding places.
If you find even one cockroach in your house, get looking for further signs of infestation, such as feces, shed skins, egg cases, and live or dead bugs.