Spotting a cockroach is enough to make your skin crawl, but catching one in your house is far worse. These little pests aren’t just the critters that cause nightmares.

They can cause some serious problems when found on a residential or business property. Though these nocturnal insects tend to stay out of sight, they do leave some obvious clues behind if they are creeping around within your home or business.

If you suspect you might have a cockroach infestation, here are the top seven signs and what you can do to get rid of cockroaches for good.

There are 4000 different cockroach species

What are cockroaches?

Believe it or not, there are over 4,000 different types of cockroaches in the world. The two most commonly found in the USA are German cockroaches and American cockroaches, and both can be a problem. American cockroaches are reddish-brown and can grow up to about 1.5 inches.

This species typically lives outside and makes its home in mulch, garbage, or other dark, damp areas. The German cockroach is light brown, with two parallel dark stripes on their sides. They are less than an inch long and though they have wings, they rarely fly. This type often finds their way inside and hides in the unchecked areas of the property.

Having a cockroach infestation on your hands is more than just an insect problem that could make your skin crawl. These pests are known to spread illness, like e. Coli and salmonella. They can easily taint food and countertops just by walking across them. They can also cause structural damage and leave behind an unpleasant smell. If you think you may be facing a cockroach crisis, here are a few signs to watch for.

How Do Cockroaches Enter Homes

The first sign of a roach infestation may be from outside your house. Typically, most roaches tend to dwell under thick brush, like leaves and trees, snacking on organic materials outside. 

Once drawn inside by the smell of a food source or water, they will make their way through tiny openings in your house–typically, small gaps in the exterior. Then, they will tend to dwell in a dark and safe room, such as a basement, where they will come out at night in search of food. 

7 Cockroach Signs of Infestation

Once inside your home, cockroaches will typically leave behind seven key signs that indicate their presence. 

1. Droppings

Cockroach droppings are a sure sign that you have an infestation. These pests will eat pretty much anything and leave behind something that resembles coffee grounds or pepper. These droppings are less than 1mm wide and can be difficult to spot if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

2. Smear Marks

In addition to droppings, cockroaches tend to leave streaks behind. You can often find these markings on walls; they are dark, irregular smears you can find in areas where they are most active.

3. Stench or Unusual Odor

Cockroach-infested areas have a very particular scent caused by the pheromones left behind in their droppings. This musty smell can attract other cockroaches, and the bigger the infestation, the worse the smell. It is a damp, unpleasant odor that can sink into just about any surface.

4. Eggs

A surefire sign of a cockroach infestation is finding their egg capsules. These capsules are called oothecae, and just one of them can hold up to 30 nymphs.

5. Molted Skin

Cockroaches go through several lifecycle stages to reach adulthood. As they grow, they molt anywhere between 5-8 times before they become adults. If you have a cockroach problem, you will likely see shedded skin.

6. Property Damage

Cockroaches will eat just about anything, and that can cause some damage. If you have an infestation, you will likely find chew marks in food packaging but may also discover damage to other materials, such as leather.

7. Living Roaches

While they tend to keep out of sight, if you enter a dark bathroom or kitchen and turn on a light, you may be unlucky enough to see these pests scurry away to their hiding spots. If you spot a live cockroach, it’s likely that there are plenty more that you haven’t.

How to Combat Roaches

Roaches can be a difficult pest to handle, especially if you have a sizable infestation. If you suspect that you may have a large pest problem, the best course of action would be to consult a pest control expert. However, if you want to prevent it, or stop it before it gets out of hand, here are a few tips to help.

Stop Them from Getting In

This may seem obvious; however, we often forget how the seasons and Father Time take a toll on our property. Perform regular maintenance on your home to seal up cracks, fix screens, and cover open areas. Make it hard for roaches to get in, and that will keep them away.

Close the Buffet

Like any pest, cockroaches need a food source, and if you have an untidy kitchen, that will be more than enough for them. They will look for anything to survive:

  • Unopened food
  • Debris
  • Crumbs
  • Garbage
  • Pet food and water dishes
  • Dishrags

Keep them away by cutting off their food source. Clean up spills, keep food contained to one room, clean the kitchen often, and seal away floor and garbage in lidded containers. The same goes for any possible water sources. Dripping pipes are ideal for cockroach infestation. They love to find dark, damp places. To stop an infestation, monitor any damp rooms or food storage areas and clean them often.

Keep It Clean

Cockroaches love to live in dark, cluttered areas. If you tend to let things pile up, you are giving these pests the perfect place to hide. Whether you have too much in your attic or basement or a ton of extra junk in your garage, clear up any areas and keep them tidy. Don’t create cockroach homes.

Clear Out Hiding Spots

Depending on the type of cockroach you have, they may have multiple preferred hiding spots in your home. Some species like warm, humid areas, while others love it damp and cool. They all prefer areas that are secluded. Typical areas in the home they tend to hide away are the following:

  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Laundry rooms
  • Basements
  • Drains

Again, they thrive in dark, cluttered areas with high moisture. They can often be found behind refrigerators or washing machines, or they can hide away in walks by sinks and stoves. Drains, rubber mats, wallpaper, slipping between the cracks, roaches can hide just about anywhere. The key to keeping them out is monitoring these hot spots and making sure they are tidy.

Stamp them Out

Having a cockroach problem can be extremely daunting, but you don’t have to fight them alone. While these methods can keep cockroaches at bay, you can always contact our pest control specialist to help stop your cockroach problem for good.

When to Call an Exterminator

It’s recommended that you call an exterminator at the first sign of a cockroach infestation. Since cockroaches tend to breed quickly and dwell in packs, the presence of one roach will indicate a large colony is afoot.

Many home remedies, such as neem oil, citrus peels, and smells that keep cockroaches away, may be effective at preventing and eliminating some cockroaches, but professional help is always recommended. 

Therefore, if you spot any signs of a cockroach infestation, be sure to call your local exterminator ASAP. 


Are cockroaches carriers of diseases?

Yes, cockroaches can carry and spread diseases. They pick up pathogens on their legs and bodies as they move through unsanitary areas, transferring these contaminants to surfaces and food as they walk through your house. Cockroach infestations have been linked to health issues such as allergies and respiratory problems.

Can I eliminate cockroaches without professional help?

While some DIY pest control methods may help control small infestations, professional help is often recommended for more severe cases. Pest control professionals have the expertise and access to stronger pesticides to effectively eliminate cockroaches. Additionally, they can provide ongoing preventive measures to avoid future infestations.

How fast do cockroach infestations spread?

Cockroach infestations can spread rapidly, with a single female capable of producing numerous offspring. The rate of infestation growth depends on factors like the availability of food, shelter, and favorable conditions. Promptly addressing signs of a cockroach infestation is crucial to prevent a small problem from turning into a large and challenging one.