Pest Identification

Learn More About the Pests Invading Your Home

Is That an Albino Cockroach?

The California Academy of Sciences keeps an albino alligator named Claude. There’s also an albino California kingsnake and various albino turtles. There are even cases of albino fruit flies and red citrus mites. Sorry to disappoint, but there are no albino cockroaches.

Albinism is also known as the “congenital absence of any pigmentation or coloration in a person, animal, or plant, resulting in white hair and pink eyes in mammals.” While a white cockroach with pink eyes might be slightly less disgusting than its creepy black and brown cousins, a white roach IS a brown roach. To understand that logic, here is a quick lesson in cockroach breeding and growth cycles.

Female cockroaches lay egg sacks called oothecae which, depending on the species, contain anywhere from 15 to 40 nymphs. When they hatch, the squirming, mini-roaches are white and their antennae are as long as their bodies. In typical roach-like fashion the white nymphs scatter in all directions.

Hours after the soft, white nymphs emerge they begin to turn brown, and in order to grow they must go through several stages of molting. At each stage, the roach sheds its black or brown exoskeleton. The skin of the roach beneath is white or cream-colored. Now that’s a roach of a different color. If you see a roach at this point, you might think it’s an albino. But within a few hours the roach will grow a new dark-colored exoskeleton.

The development of a roach from egg to adult can take up to 600 days. During this period, cockroaches proceed through 6 to 14 molts. That means there’s numerous times when it is white. But it is unlikely you will see a roach in this condition. When molting, the roach is vulnerable and defenseless until the new exoskeleton hardens. This means roaches molt in dark places like walls and cabinets where you won’t see them unless it’s by accident. And what about those exoskeletons they shed? If your house is infested with cockroaches, the shells dry up, turn powdery, and become airborne. This can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive adults. So stop worrying about albino cockroaches and set out some cockroach bait stations so you don’t have to see cockroaches of any color.