Pest Identification

Learn More About the Pests Invading Your Home

What Is the Lifecycle of a Cockroach?

If you think cockroaches are the most disgusting bugs in the world, you’ve never seen their babies. Unlike cute little kittens and cuddly hippopotami, cockroach nymphs are the stuff of nightmares. When the eggs, or ootheca, of a typical American cockroach hatch, 15 white, squirming mini-roaches emerge from the beanlike sac. The antennae are as long as the body and begin bouncing up and down in typical roach-like fashion as the nymphs scatter in all directions. And American roaches are pikers when it comes to nymphs. The ootheca of an Asian and brown-banded cockroaches contain about 20 nymphs while the egg sac of the prolific German roach can hatch 40 of the pests.

Of course the creepiness does not end at birth. The soft, white nymphs go through several stages of molting. Each time, the roaches get bigger, change color, and become more like adults. And the seemingly delicious molted exterior is eaten by the nymphs or nearby adults.

The development of a roach from egg to adult can take up to 600 days. During this period, American roaches go through 6 to 14 molts. The young adult cockroach is transformed into a full-fledged grownup when it grows a set of wings. Adult cockroaches live about 400 days and an average American female can produce about 150 young in her lifetime.

While it isn’t pretty, understanding the cockroach lifecycle can help you determine how many generations of cockroaches might be infesting your home. If you see nymphs or small, wingless roaches skittering about you have a multi-generational problem that requires immediate action. Nymphs act much like adults, foraging for food and water wherever they can find it; garbage cans, latrines, sewers, basements, and kitchens. That means nymphs will be drawn to roach bait just like adults. Set roach killing bait or gel wherever you see evidence of roaches. Let the slow-acting insecticide do its work. When you’re dealing with a disease vector that can live 1,000 days, it is important to go after nymphs as well as adults.