For many, cockroaches are the stuff of nightmares. Even worse than a lone roach is the thought of a pregnant cockroach, ready to birth her babies in your home. Though adult cockroaches (the kind that comes into your home) can grow up to two inches long, baby cockroaches can be less than a quarter of an inch long at birth. And, if you’ve got an infestation, there could be hundreds of cockroach larvae running around your home, and you might not even know it.
Cockroaches in the wild actually do many beneficial things for the environment; they clean it up by eating all the vegetable and animal debris and waste. But, in our homes and businesses, this cleaning up can take a nasty turn. Pestilential species of cockroach can spread disease, cause asthma, and give people food-poisoning-like symptoms. If you find an infestation, it’s vital to take care of it immediately.
Here, we’ll learn all about how to identify a cockroach. Then, we’ll take a look at how roaches make more roaches, and what pregnant cockroaches look like. We’ll discuss whether or not you should kill pregnant females, and what happens if you step on them. Finally, we’ll go over how to get rid of infestations.
What Do Cockroaches Look Like?
Cockroaches are perhaps best known for their extraordinarily long antennae. Not all roaches have such long antennae (there are over 4,500 total species of cockroaches) but all the species that invade our homes do. Additionally, they have six legs with stiff spikes; they’re generally reddish-brown to almost black in color. Cockroaches are often confused with beetles, water bugs, and bed bugs.
How Do Roaches Reproduce?
Pregnant cockroaches have two distinct methods of incubating young; either inside or outside their body. Incubation methods depend on the species; most cockroaches can produce a new batch of young every couple months of adulthood.
All cockroach eggs are encased in egg cases. Pregnant females birth the egg case whole and, depending on the species, either carry it with them or deposit it in a safe place. German cockroaches carry their egg cases with them. A pregnant cockroach carrying her egg case looks like a roach with an amber-colored grain of rice attached to her rear end.
Other species of roach, like the brown-banded and American cockroach, produce their egg cases, then immediately deposit them in safe places. Brown-banded cockroaches are known for gluing their egg cases to the undersides of furniture and warm electrical appliances.
Other species of cockroach, like the Dubia roach, are ovoviviparous. This means that, instead of birthing an egg case, they actually keep the egg case, with the eggs inside, in their body. The eggs incubate inside the pregnant cockroach, then hatch inside of her. Then, the mother gives birth to live young. The baby roaches are tiny and so pale they’re practically translucent.
Should You Kill a Pregnant Cockroach?
Pregnant cockroaches mean more cockroaches. Since this is the last thing a homeowner wants, they should be killed just like any other problem roach. You should kill pregnant cockroaches before they give birth and deliver more roaches into your home.
Though many folk remedies hinge on capturing the pregnant female alive, this is not necessary. You don’t even need to catch the female—instead, any pregnant roaches should be eliminated using the same methods used to get rid of males and nymphs. Don’t worry about the eggs inside either; once the mother dies, they die too.
What Does a Pregnant Cockroach Look Like?
Technically, all female roaches undergo pregnancy. But, only species that are ovoviviparous, or those that carry their egg cases around with them, are considered ‘pregnant’. If the roach is ovoviviparous, you probably won’t be able to tell that she’s pregnant. However, if you see a cockroach dragging a package along behind it, it’s almost certainly a pregnant cockroach.
Expectant cockroaches are common; they can breed as often as every single month, and produce as many as 40 baby cockroaches per pregnancy. In turn, each egg case incubates for between 4-70 days, depending on the species. Cockroach nymphs can become sexually mature in as little as one month. Every time a cockroach produces an egg case, the potential for a larger infestation grows exponentially.
What Happens if You Step on a Pregnant Cockroach?
We’ve all seen those videos of people squishing spider egg sacs, and all the spiderlings crawling out in what can only be described as a nightmarescape. With those images in mind, it’s no wonder so many people are afraid to step on a pregnant cockroach. But, have no fear; stepping on a pregnant roach will not release the babies out into the world, or onto your shoe.
When you step on a pregnant roach, she dies, and so do all of her incubating young. You may even step on an ovoviviparous roach without realizing it’s pregnant. Don’t worry; a good, firm, stomp will take care of the roach, and the larvae.
This is the same case with cockroach egg cases, which look like tiny, dried kidney beans, or grains of rice. If you find one, you can certainly step on it to kill the nymphs inside. If you do, be sure to wash your shoe afterward with a cleaner; otherwise, you may spread the cockroach’s pathogens wherever you walk.
How to Get Rid of a Pregnant Cockroach
You eliminate pregnant cockroaches the exact same way you do any other cockroach. You can either call a professional pest exterminator, or purchase your own traps and pesticides. Use extreme caution when applying pesticides; they’re toxic to both humans and pets.