Pest Identification

Learn More About the Pests Invading Your Home

Identify Cockroach Eggs

Like chickens, ducks, and ostriches, cockroaches are oviparous. No, not delicious, oviparous. This means that they grow their young in eggs outside the mother’s body. The process begins when the females attract males by releasing pheromones. The boys fight over the lady roach to decide who gets to fertilize the eggs. Once this ancient ritual is over, the cockroach carries the eggs around in a sac called an ootheca. Depending on the species, the cockroach either carries the ootheca around until it’s ready to hatch or drops it in a protected area.

At 1.6 to 2 inches in length the American cockroach is among the most common and certainly the largest. A single American female roach can produce up to 90 ootheca in her lifetime. Each egg capsule contains about 15 embryos. The ootheca are dark brown, about a quarter-inch in length, and resemble a little bean.

After fertilization the roach carries the ootheca around for a few days before depositing it in a hidden place like a dark corner, framework of a dresser, or under furniture. The roach uses saliva to hold the ootheca in place. If you squeeze the sac, it will explode into a slimy white goo. After 3 to 5 weeks, that goo will turn into immature greyish-white cockroaches, called nymphs.

German cockroaches are smaller than Americans but nearly as ubiquitous. The female German roach can produce eggs 12 days after becoming an adult. The ootheca is about the same size as the American roach but may contain up to 40 nymphs. The math on that totals out something like this; a single German cockroach and her offspring can produce around 300,000 cockroaches per year.

Despite the “ick factor,” the nymphs are helpless when they first emerge. If you see a bunch of squiggly little larvae squirming around what appears to be a bean, it is a good time to put on a glove, pick up the stomach-churning mess, and flush it down the toilet. Left unharmed, the nymphs turn brown, their exoskeletons harden, and most likely, they will be headed for your kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom.

Cockroach eggs in your home are a sure sign of trouble and should be removed immediately. Place roach bait around the house in order to kill the mothers that are surely hiding in the cracks.