German Cockroach Nymphs

Baby cockroaches, or nymphs, make up much of an established German cockroach population. Baby German cockroaches share most of the same features as adult cockroaches but are a fraction of the size. Both immature and fully grown German cockroaches have flat, hard-shelled bodies, a pair of long, thin antennae, and six spiny legs. Baby German cockroaches are round in shape whereas adults are oblong. The young cockroaches start out dark brown in color but lighten to medium brown or reddish-brown after several molts. Directly after molting, young German cockroaches appear white in color but darken as their new shells harden in several hours. Unlike adults, baby German cockroaches are wingless.

Depending on the environmental conditions, nymphal German cockroaches take between six and 31 weeks to develop into adults. In that time, the adult female may lay several more egg cases. The pests breed continuously, and populations consist largely of varying stages of developing nymphs.

German cockroaches avoid light and are usually scared off by human activity (reclusive). However, infestations may be detected well before seeing the pests in the home. Molting nymphs leave behind cast skins, which provide a clear sign that cockroaches are breeding and established within the residence. The discarded skins are brittle, reddish shells that look like small cockroaches.

The most effective way to keep baby cockroaches from appearing in the home is to eliminate elements that facilitate cockroach breeding, namely food and clutter. Discarded food is the major factor that promotes cockroach procreation, and the pests thrive when rotting food is in abundance. To prevent cockroaches from entering and breeding, homeowners want to clean up any crumbs and spills and avoid leaving food and dirty dishes out overnight. Additionally, trash containing organic materials needs to be taken out as often as possible.

German cockroach nymphs are tiny insects. They are barely visible when they first hatch. Without a magnifying glass, many people would mistake them for something besides a cockroach.

The female German cockroach deposits the egg capsule when it is time for the eggs to hatch. Sometimes the nymphs come out of the eggs before she can drop the capsule. The tiny nymphs hide in the crevices where many of them become food for adult roaches. Many of the nymphs survive however. In an infestation of German roaches, more than ¾ of the roaches are nymphs.

For their first few meals, the tiny nymphs often feed on the droppings of the adult roaches. As they start to grow, the nymphs shed their skin. This shedding is called molting. The new skin is soft and white for a few hours. The newly molted nymphs look like “albino roaches” until the new skin dries and hardens.

The nymphs look like adult German cockroaches except they do not have wings. The average German cockroach nymph molts six times. After each molt, the nymphs look more like adult roaches. After the last molt, the wings are fully developed. Even though German roaches do not fly, the wings are an easy way to identify the adult roaches.

German cockroach nymphs usually develop into adults in less than two months. If food is scarce, it can take much more time. Without food, German cockroaches starve in a few weeks. Homeowners who are fighting German cockroaches can take control by eliminating the food for the roaches.

Homeowners should look at the kitchen carefully. If leftover food is left out, roaches will find it at night. If dirty dishes are left on the counter, roaches will dine on the crumbs.

Pet food should be picked up before going to bed so the roaches do not eat it during the night. The trash should be emptied regularly and it may be necessary to remove the trashcan from under the sink. Bottles and cans should be rinsed before they go into the recycle bin and the bin should be kept outside.

Heavy roach populations can be removed with a vacuum cleaner. Wrap the vacuum bag in a trash bag and dispose of it outside. Any remaining roaches can be eliminated with cockroach bait. The baiting process can take time. Monitoring will show how the program is working. Several follow-ups are normally necessary. Many homeowners prefer to have a pest control professional take care of this part of the program.