Cockroach Signs

Signs of Activity in the Home

Initial Signs

During the Day
Sometimes the first cockroach sign that a homeowner sees is live roaches running around. When the roaches first invade a home, they may run around looking for food, water, and shelter.

Seeing live roaches in the daytime can mean that they are overcrowded.

After they have become established, cockroaches will try to avoid the light. Seeing live roaches in the daytime can mean that they are overcrowded. It can also mean that they could not find food at night and they are still foraging in the daytime.


Cockroach droppings vary in size and shape. Small nymphs might produce droppings that people would not even notice. Adult American roaches produce droppings that are as large as mouse droppings. The American roach droppings will have ridges on them and there will not be any hairs in the roach droppings.

droppings / feces
Roaches with droppings

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There are several other cockroach signs. Cockroaches produce pheromones from glands on their bodies. The pheromones have a distinctive odor.

When there are a lot of roaches in an area, the odor becomes very strong.

Experts can often recognize the smell of cockroaches as soon as they enter an infested building.


People often find dark stains on the walls and ceilings when there are German roaches present. The roaches spit up this dark material. Scientists call it sputum. It can be as unsanitary as the roach feces, so people should avoid touching it with bare hands.


As cockroaches develop from a nymph to an adult, they shed their skin, or molt. Whenever possible, the roaches try to molt in a dark, quiet place. As the cockroach population grows, the roaches may be forced to molt in the open. When that begins to happen, the cast-off skins will be seen.

Roaches that have recently molted will be cream-colored. They are not albino roaches. Their new skin will darken as it hardens. This will happen in a few hours.

molted roach
molted roach

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When female cockroaches produce eggs, they are contained inside a capsule. Scientists call the capsule an ootheca. The female of some species drops the ootheca in a dark place. Other species glue the ootheca behind picture frames or mirrors. German roach females usually keep the ootheca attached to their bodies until the eggs are ready to hatch. Although it may be difficult to determine the species, finding an ootheca is a definite cockroach sign.

egg cases
Ootheca comparison

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Moisture Connection

Most cockroaches require water regularly. Very few cockroaches can survive long without water. Because of this, cockroaches will often hide near a water source. If some of these signs start to appear, ask yourself what the roaches would be using for food or water in the vicinity.

Bait is usually effective for cockroach control. It should be applied near the places where the roaches have been active. Because cockroach control requires follow-up, many people prefer to have pest control professionals take care of these pests.