I Saw One Cockroach, Should I Be Worried?

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If you enjoy reading this article, why not check out our articles on Everything You Need to Know About Fruit Flies and Which Bugs Live the Longest?

Is Seeing One Cockroach Normal?

For many of us, cockroaches are a symbol of filth, dark and dirty spaces. So when you find one in your house or apartment, it can be quite a shock. After all, you are not a dirty person, you clean often enough and you were never expecting to have to deal with that kind of company. Don’t panic, seeing one cockroach is not necessarily a sign that your space is getting infested. Read on to find out exactly what it means to find one cockroach in your living space, and the steps which you need to take now to prevent further issues.

The short answer to the question: I saw one cockroach, should I be worried? is yes, probably. 

If your fear is that there may be a few more cockroaches living in your home, those fears are probably founded. Cockroaches live in groups and reproduce fairly rapidly. Moreover, they often hide in cracks and dark corners, meaning that you are unlikely to see them in broad daylight. If you manage to find one, there are likely quite a few more hiding in the darkness in some other corners of your home. One thing is for sure, it is wise to be concerned.

However, your concerns need not make you panic. Cockroaches are very common, and not necessarily a sign of a dangerous hygiene problem in your home. 

Moreover, there are quite a few tried-and-tested solutions for getting rid of cockroaches which you can rely on. 

To sum things up, yes finding a cockroach is likely a sign that there are a lot more in your home. But no, it does not necessarily mean that your place is filthy. And no, it is not the end of the world. Read on to find out a bit more about cockroaches, and what you can do to get rid of them once you have spotted one in your home.

Do lone cockroaches exist?

When seeing one cockroach, the best thing which you can hope for is that it is a lone individual, venturing into your house by itself and by accident. 

Unfortunately, this is not very likely to be the case. Cockroaches are social creatures and do tend to form colonies. They typically live in groups that can start out small, but can easily have over 100 cockroaches. 

Once the roaches have found a hospitable environment, say a kitchen with good access to food, they are likely to settle there as a colony.

If you see a cockroach wandering around alone, it is very likely that there is a group of them somewhere nearby. Cockroaches typically don’t wander off alone. When they are searching for a place to form a new nest, cockroaches typically travel in groups. So, if a cockroach is alone, the fam is most likely around too. 

I Saw One Cockroach, How Worried Should I Be? 

While seeing any cockroach in your home should make you seriously consider whether there might be more hiding in your home, some cases are more worrying than others. 

For starters, did you see the cockroach during the day or during the night? Cockroaches are nocturnal creatures, which means they come out and look for food at night, and sleep during the day. That’s why you are most likely to see a cockroach when you wake up in the middle of the night and turn the light on in the kitchen or bathroom. So, seeing a cockroach at night is quite normal. 

Seeing a cockroach during daytime is a rare occurrence. If this happens, it is much more likely that you have a serious infestation on your hands. Cockroaches will typically only venture out of their lairs into the daylight only if their hiding place is overpopulated and they get very hungry. 

Furthermore, if you’ve seen one cockroach in your home, it’s a good idea to try and remember as many details about the bug as you can. Was it a small or a large cockroach? 

Seeing a baby cockroach is always a bad sign. A baby cockroach typically wouldn’t have wandered off very far from the nest. And when there is one baby cockroach – there are typically more. 

To make matters more complicated, there are also many types of cockroaches. A newly-hatched nymph of an American cockroach can be about the same size as a fully grown German cockroach, so it might be hard to tell whether what you are seeing is a baby or an adult roach. 

Are all cockroaches bad?

RoachGerman Cockroach Oriental Cockroach American Cockroach 
Adult Size 13 – 16 mm (0.5 inches) About 1 inch Up to 2 inches 
Characteristics Relativelly small Breeds fast Has wings but (usually) doesn’t fly Light brown color Dark brown to black Larger than German, but smaller than American cockroaches Reddish color Yellow band on the thorax Has wings and can fly Larger than other types of roaches 
Lifespan Around 200 days 35-190 days 90 – 706 days 
Can It Fly? Rarely No Yes 

The term ‘cockroach’ is actually quite vague and can refer to up to 5, 000 distinct species of bugs. 

Among them, the German cockroach (Blattella germanica), oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis), and the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) are the ones which are most commonly found in domestic environments. 

These bugs can carry harmful bacteria and infest humans, but most other species are generally harmless. In fact, if humans have tended to fear cockroaches, it is generally not because they are harmful, but rather because seeing one is a sign that there might be a hygiene problem in a given space.

Other types of cockroaches can end up in your home, but they are unlikely to create a colony there. 

These include: 

  • Wood Cockroaches (Parcoblatta). These cockroaches are native to North America. They typically live outdoors in moist woodlands, but can end up in homes occasionally, especially if brought in with firewood. 
  • Smokybrown Cockroach (Periplaneta fuliginosa). These cockroaches are common in the southern part of the US and Japan. THey usually live outdoors and need a warm and humid climate to survive
  • Australian Cockroach (Periplaneta australasiae). These cockroaches live outdoors in warm climates, but do sometimes invade people’s homes. They are quite large and have long wings, although they can’t fly very far. 

Does One Cockroach Attract More Cockroaches?

Yes, probably. Cockroaches can, and do, attract each other via chemical secretions called pheromones. Something called an aggregation pheromone is responsible for making cockroaches stick close together in groups. So, if a lone cockroach hangs around long enough, it might attract other cockroaches (even if dead).

But it gets even weirder than that. Scientists believe that cockroaches are attracted to each other’s poop. So, it seems that where one cockroach is pooping, there will be more comning. 

Fun fact: A group of cockroaches is called an intrusion.

What is the danger of having cockroaches in my home?

As well as being a (potential) sign of uncleanliness in a space, cockroaches also do a great deal to sully the place in which they find themselves. They carry bacteria on their feet and body and can harbor potentially dangerous bacteria in their stomachs. 

For example, cockroaches are widely believed to carry various disease-causing bacteria like salmonella, staphylococcus and streptococcus, and they can transmit some viruses too. 

Seeing one cockroach does not mean you are in great danger of catching a disease, however. It would take hundreds of them to contaminate a space to the point where it becomes truly dangerous to live in it. 

But be careful, by putting something like cutlery or food that a cockroach has touched into your mouth, you increase your chances of catching some of the bacteria which the bug carries. 

Moreover, cockroaches also leave excrements and molt behind, which can make your place look dirtier and even start smelling. 

Those substances left behind by the bugs could also trigger an asthma attack in sensitive people, so be very careful if any member of your household struggles with respiratory problems.If you’re still stuck on the question: how did the cockroaches get into my house?? You may want to read Why Do I Have Cockroaches in My Home? for some answers.

What are the signs that I have more than one cockroach in your home?

Photo by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash

If you have spotted just one cockroach but suspect that there may be more, it’s time to investigate! You are going to have to learn to recognize the signs of their presence around your house.

In fact, because one cockroach is very likely to be accompanied by many others 

#1 Cockroach Bodies 

The clearest sign which you can find is a dead cockroach body or bodies. If you see a dead cockroach body hidden in a corner of your home, it could mean you have an infestation that has been established for quite some time. 

Skin casks

Baby cockroaches go through a process called molting. When their exoskeleton (the hard shell on the outside of their bodies) becomes too small for them, baby roaches simply shed this external layer. 

When this happens, the cockroach’s exoskeleton can remain intact, and in this case you might find transparent, empty shells that look exactly like a cockroach. Because they were. In any case, a cockroach goes through this process several times in its lifetime, and every time it leaves behind a sign of its existence. 

If you find these exoskeletons in your home, it means you have an active cockroach colony in your home. 

Cockroach Eggs 

In its earliest stages, you will likely see other signs, such as eggs. Cockroach eggs and eggshells are small, brown and oval-shaped. They are a clear sign that the cockroaches in your home have started to reproduce. 

However, don’t expect to see an actual egg. Female cockroaches don’t actually lay eggs like chickens. Rather, they deposit egg cases (calle ootheca). Each egg case contains around 16 eggs, which explains how cockroaches multiply so fast. 

Cockroach egg cases are typically somewhere around half an inch long, brown, and oval. Oriental and American cockroaches have dark brown egg cases that look a bit like beans, while German cockroach egg cases are lighter brown with orange hues. 

Either way, finding a cockroach ootheca is not a good sign. But at least you’ll know you are dealing with an infestation and will be able to take appropriate steps ASAP if you find them. 

Cockroach Droppings 

Another clean sign is cockroach droppings. The excrements of a cockroach are very dark and powdery, like ground coffee. Finding unidentified black powder around your home can be a clear sign that more than one cockroach is living there, and using your space as their toilet. 

Weird Smells 

As a general rule, a more advanced cockroach infestation can be smelled before it can be seen. Cockroaches leave a strong, musty smell where they live, which can sometimes be comparable to that of rancid oil. If your space has been smelling worse lately, or if dusty oiliness is something you can smell in the air, this is a clear sign that several cockroaches inhabit your space.

Why is there a cockroach in my home?

As a general rule, we associate a cockroach infestation with poor hygiene. So how can they be in your home when the floors are clean, when you wipe surfaces regularly, vacuum and air out the space? 

There are actually a variety of ways that cockroaches can enter your home. 

#1 They Are Brought In With a Used Object 

One of them is being transported on a used object. When buying used furniture or used clothing, you may be unknowingly transporting cockroaches into your home. 

This is however not the most likely way for them to enter your home. 

#2 They Come From Your Neighbors 

Because they travel in pipes and through walls, cockroaches are most likely to give you a visit if some of your neighbors are infected with them.

Unfortunately, these animals spread fast. One unclean neighbor in a large row of houses is enough for a whole street to become infested with cockroaches. If you are living in close proximity to your neighbors, it may be a good idea to give them a visit and find out more about one possible cause of your cockroach problem.

#3 They Crawl In Through Tiny Cracks 

Cockroaches are pretty amazing creatures. Some cockroaches can survive a month without water, they can withstand pressure of up to 900 times their own weight, and while they would actually not necessarily survive the proverbial nuclear bomb, they can withstend radioation levels up to 15 times higher than humans. 

And, they can crawl through amazingly tiny spaces. The exoskeleton of a cockroach is flexible, and they can flatten themselves if necessary to crawl through very narrow gaps. So if there is any kind of opening on your home, for example around doors or windows,  cockroaches can probably get in. 

What are the first steps which you need to take against a cockroach infestation?

#1 Look for Signs of More Cockroaches 

As we mentioned before, if you see one cockroach in your home, it’s best to investigate and see if there are any others around. Go around your home and look for signs of cockroach exoskeletons, droppings, and eggs. 

Remember that cockroaches like dark, damp, and warm places. They often hide in dark corners, such as behind kitchen cabinets or stoves. Unfortunately they can also climb inside kitchen appliances and electronics. Basically, you’ll want to check every nook and cranny there is in your home. 

#2 Keep Your Home Clean 

As we previously mentioned, finding a cockroach is not necessarily a sign that your home is dirty. However, keeping your house as clean as possible is your best bet in getting rid of cockroaches. 

As a general rule, cockroaches will only proliferate if there is enough for them to eat. This means that cleaning all surfaces and floors regularly to make sure no food is ever available to them can actually make them go quite fast.

#3 Make Your Food Out of Reach 

Speaking about food, if you suspect cockroaches are entering your home, you should never leave anything out overnight. No leftovers, no dirty plates. Otherwise, you’re essentially inviting these awful bugs in for a feat. 

To avoid contamination, all food should be kept in airtight containers. 

#4 Have A Strategy 

Don’t be tempted to go in with insecticide right away. Cockroaches are very resistant and you likely won’t be able to kill them all with the kind of product which you can find in a store. Rather, it may cause problems for you, as those products often use very harsh chemicals which are harmful to humans. 

Instead, we recommend consulting a specialist who can tell you more about the best course of action to get rid of cockroaches in your home.

It’s always a good idea to try natural solutions first. Dust mites are another critter that could cause you a lot of grief at home; here are our suggestions for getting rid of them naturally: How Do You Get Rid of Dust Mites Naturally?

How do I stop cockroaches from coming back?

When you have finally got rid of cockroaches, chances are you will be living in fear of seeing them make a come-back. Fortunately, there are a few steps which you can take to avoid that.

  • The first is to keep your place very clean, looking out for food on surfaces or on the floor.
  • Take out your bins regularly and make sure to clean them from the inside a couple of times a month.
  • Keep all of your food in airtight containers, and never leave anything out on the stove overnight.
  • A more advanced step would be to fix holes and cracks in walls and floors. Those spaces are very hospitable to cockroaches, and the more you can minimize them, the less appealing your space will become for them.

As a general rule, try to remember what attracts cockroaches, and try to make your home the exact opposite of that. If this has really got you worried then I’d just go and buy a Ryobi Cordless Mister . Paired with some regular of the shelf disinfectant you can clean your home in a way you simply couldn’t by hand. This above all else will give you long term results and keep pests away.


By understanding the lives and aspirations of cockroaches, it is relatively easy to tell whether you have a problem. As a general rule, finding even just one cockroach in your home is a sign of a probable infestation. Your first steps should be to look for signs of additional cockroaches, to increase the sanitation of your space, and to get professional help. 

And remember, there is no need to panic. Cockroaches are quick to enter a space when they find a hospitable environment there, but they can also be quick to leave when they no longer find what they are looking for there. Simply take well-thought-out, logical steps, and watch as the signs of cockroaches progressively disappear from your home!

If you enjoyed reading this article, why not check out our articles on Are Ants Active at Night? and Which Bugs Are Attracted to Light? Let’s Find Out


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All the best


Steve Foster

Mad about bugs and wanting to publish as many articles as I can to help educate people about these amazing beautiful creatures! For more info check out my about page https://schoolofbugs.com/about-steve-foster/

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