The idea of cockroaches multiplying in your home can make anyone anxious. In just a few months, you can go from a few roaches to a major infestation. Understanding the cockroach life cycle can help you in your quest to get rid of them.
Cockroaches use pheromones to attract mates. Like most insects, they mate facing away from each other. Some species of roaches can store sperm so that they only need to mate once to produce many egg capsules. Once the eggs have been fertilized, the female roach will either carry the egg case around with her or deposit it in a safe location, depending on the species. The number of eggs in each capsule also varies by species. American roaches typically produce around 16 eggs, while German roaches can have as many as 40 in each capsule. Egg cases are usually brown in color and around ¼ inch long.
Female cockroach laying an egg capsule by Toby Hudson [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
When the eggs hatch, the baby roaches are called nymphs. The nymphs are white at first, but within a few short hours, their exoskeletons will harden and darken. Roaches go through incomplete metamorphosis, meaning that the young generally resemble the adults, except they are without wings and are sexually immature. On the way to adulthood, roaches go through a number of molts that allow their body to grow in size. German roaches usually molt 6-7 times before they are mature.
Photograph by d3j4vu (Transferred by Gobonobo/Originally uploaded by D3j4vu) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
A German roach infestation can grow extremely rapidly because the average length of time that it takes to reach sexual maturity is only around 60 days. On the other hand, larger roach species, like the American roach, may take 6-12 months to reach adulthood. The lifespan of a roach also depends a lot on the species, but some can live 2-3 years. That means that over her lifetime, a female roach can produce hundreds of young.
So, what does all this mean if you are trying to get rid of roaches in your home? First, it is extremely important to not let a cockroach infestation get out of control. Prevention is always your best bet, but other efforts may be needed. Use exclusion methods, sanitation efforts, and chemical means in order to stop cockroaches from living and breeding in your home. Second, after you have gotten rid of the roaches, wash problem areas with soap and water to get rid of the pheromones that will attract more roaches. If you find roach egg cases in secluded areas like behind appliances, under sinks, in cupboards, and in crawl spaces, they should be vacuumed up, crushed, or sprayed with an insecticide or insect growth regulator (IGR) to prevent future generations of roaches. PF Harris has everything necessary for you to get rid of roaches in your home. Try our famous roach tablets, boric acid powder, roach traps, and more. With Harris roach control products, you can save money by doing your own pest control and get great results.