Unmistakable Signs of a Cockroach Infestation (And How to Get Rid of Them)

Have you spotted cockroaches crawling around your house?

In the world of insects, there are too many ugly, scary species to count, but the cockroach might be everyone’s least favourite.

No one wants to see one of these horrible creatures in their home. This is not only because of their frightful appearance but the problems that they can cause.

The most common place to find a cockroach infestation in the UK is Southwark, London, where more than 1,000 cases were reported in one year. You don’t have to live there to have them, however. These pests can infiltrate almost any home.

If you think yours might have fallen victim to these insects, read on. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about how to identify a cockroach infestation and what to do when you need cockroach control.

How to Spot a Cockroach Infestation


This one might seem obvious, but the first sign of a cockroach infestation is the creatures themselves.

You might not think anything of seeing one from time to time, but there’s never just one. If you see cockroaches out in the open, it means there are lots more hiding elsewhere. They usually remain in dark, secluded places. If they’re out in the light, it’s likely to mean that they’re running out of space in those areas due to overcrowding.

The thought of how many hundreds of roaches could be hiding in your home is frightening.

You might find dead cockroaches lying around, too. The minute you spot even a single roach, dead or alive, you need to get on the case. They multiply quickly, and before you know it, the problem can get out of hand.

If you can, get rid of everyone you see before it becomes a full-blown cockroach infestation.

Egg Cases

When female cockroaches lay eggs, they are kept in groups within egg cases, called oothecae.

These egg cases are usually 5-9 mm long and are initially brown but will darken over time. They are deposited in safe, dark spaces like in corners, behind furniture and inside drawers.

If you spot any of these egg cases around your home, you can guarantee that some cockroaches are hiding elsewhere.

One egg case might not look like much of a threat, but they hold multiple eggs inside of them. So there could be as many as fifty of them in just one case!

If you find an unhatched ootheca, the best way to stop it from filling your home with lots of baby roaches is the old-fashioned way of killing any insect – by crushing it. Unfortunately, the usual sprays and pest-killing products that work on cockroaches can be completely ineffective when they’re in this protective casing.

If you’re too late and find the egg case already opened and empty, stay on the lookout for more of them.


Cockroaches leave droppings everywhere they go.

At first, you might not realise what they are because they can appear rather inconspicuous to those who aren’t familiar with roaches. They look like tiny black dots or coffee grounds and can be found in the places where cockroaches are most active.

That means the most likely places that droppings will appear in our food storage areas, drawers and underneath kitchen appliances. So check these places regularly and clean up any droppings you find.

It’s important not to leave cockroach droppings lying around for too long. When released into the air, they contain proteins that trigger respiratory problems, diarrhoea, and asthma attacks. Cleaning them up with a vacuum and then disinfecting the area is an excellent way to get rid of them yourself.

If you find a few droppings here and there, you might have only a few insects lurking in your house. However, if you’re seeing them in large amounts, you have a full-blown cockroach infestation and should take action immediately.

A Bad Smell

One cockroach doesn’t seem to emit any odour, but it’s a different story when they come together. These insects produce odorous secretions, so if you have a large population in your home, you will start to notice an unpleasant smell.

Cockroaches, like other insects, use chemicals to communicate with each other. These chemicals, called cuticular hydrocarbons, send messages to other cockroaches to inform them about food sources, hiding places, and mates. Unfortunately for us, they create a terrible smell that pest control workers know all too well.

The odour has been described as a foul, musky smell and offensive to the nose. It can also affect the tongue. This is because it can even alter how food tastes without the insects coming into contact with it. Just the presence of the smell in the air is enough to change your taste buds, and if that thought is enough to make anyone’s stomach turn.

The longer you have a cockroach infestation, the more pungent the smell will get. Unfortunately, it can linger in the air for a while after cockroaches die, so it needs to be dealt with at the earliest possible stage.

People who work in pest control can identify a cockroach infestation simply by walking into a home and noticing the unmistakable smell. But, if you’re not sure, call the professionals and ask them to take a look for you.


Cockroaches aren’t just disgusting and annoying. They also cause damage to your belongings.

Of course, they’ll feed on any food they can get hold of, but did you know that they like to eat books, too? Giant adult roaches feed on paper products and glue, so book bindings are an ideal food source for them. Of course, they have been known to munch on wallpaper and curtains as well, but the damage they’re capable of causing goes beyond aesthetics.

They can munch into walls, causing interior damage that’s expensive to repair. In extreme cases, they can even chew through electrical wires!

To minimise physical damage, expense, and danger, it’s essential to eradicate these insects before they have a chance to cause serious problems. Otherwise, you could end up having to pay for home repairs and replacements as well as pest control.

Moulted Skin

Before cockroaches grow to be full-sized, they go through a ‘nymph’ stage. During this stage, they proliferate, and as a result, they shed their skins.

This means you might find what look like dead roaches lying around but are just skin that has been shed and left behind.

Some cockroaches will shed multiple times before reaching the adult stage. The amount of time it takes for this to happen depends on the exact species. However, each one will appear white in colour after the first shedding. After the final shedding, the cockroach will emerge with wings for the first time.

The insect will usually feed on the skin for nutrients, but it’s common for them to be left behind. If you find them, they could be evidence of a previous or ongoing cockroach infestation. Clean them up straight away to stop other roaches from feeding on them and thriving.


As well as triggering allergies and asthma attacks, cockroaches can carry and cause illness in the people whose homes they’ve invaded.

They’ve been known to carry bacteria that cause dysentery, cholera, typhoid, polio, and e-coli. They spread these diseases through their droppings, vomit, and saliva.

These insects aren’t known for being picky. They’ll feast on everything and anything they can find, and that includes the dirtiest food sources you can think of. If they consume something contaminated, it will pass through their system without harming them, but pass that contamination on through bodily secretions, which is how it can make its way to you.

Diseases can be picked up through direct contact with cockroaches, too. Their spiny legs are perfect for picking up bacteria and pathogens. When they crawl over objects, animals, or people, they pass them on.

Suppose you or anyone else in your house experiences repeated cases of food poisoning, diarrhoea, respiratory problems, or symptoms of allergies. In that case, cockroaches could be at the root of the problem.

Smears on Surfaces

In areas with water, like your bathroom or kitchen, roaches can leave behind brown smear marks.

If you keep spotting irregular marks on surfaces and can’t work out how they got there, they might be the work of cockroaches.

How to Get Rid of Cockroaches

If you have a cockroach infestation, the best thing to do is get professional pest control.

These pesky insects are notoriously hard to get rid of. This is because they’re incredibly resilient and can survive extreme conditions. They’ve even been proven to be able to survive nuclear blasts.

With that in mind, it’s best to leave the extermination to the professionals. Youngs Pest Control has years of experience in detecting and getting rid of cockroach infestations.

If you think that your home might have one, contact us to see what we can do for you.