Finding strange, dark brown pellets in your kitchen or bathroom cabinets can be an unsettling experience. You’re pretty confident that what you have found is cockroach droppings, but you’re hoping that your hunch is off. So, what do cockroach droppings look like and, if these are roach droppings, how serious is the problem?
In general, roach droppings look like little black or dark brown pellets, very similar in appearance to coffee grounds or crushed pepper. When fresh, these pellets are usually round or oval and, unlike coffee grounds or pepper, these pellets stick to surfaces and might smear. Older droppings may start to become flattened out as cockroaches continue to move around and walk through their own feces.
The bigger the infestation, the more obvious these droppings will become. Cockroaches don’t care about cleanliness—they are more than willing to excrete where they live and eat, so droppings tend to be more prominent where roaches spend more time. In dark, hard to reach areas where these pests commonly congregate, droppings will appear less like individual pellets and more like a pervasive speckling. Particularly bad areas will start to appear as a single, solid stain. Getting rid of these invaders early can help prevent the problem from getting this bad. The issue is that these pests are good at hiding and most cockroach species only come out after dark.
Finding cockroach droppings is an indication that it’s time to contact a pest control professional. For one, roaches, as well as other pests, often leave droppings in discreet places. Therefore, if you are finding droppings, this likely means you’ll need assistance from an expert to get rid of the pests. Second, droppings from certain other pests can look similar to roach droppings. For example, mice and rats can create droppings that look somewhat similar to cockroach droppings. The difference is that these creatures will produce larger pellets and they typically leave fur behind as well.
Bed bug droppings can appear similar to cockroach droppings as well. However, bed bugs live as close to where people spend time as possible, while roaches prefer dark, out of the way locations where people don’t commonly travel. If you’re seeing dark, reddish-brown smears on your pillowcases or bedsheets, your problem is likely bed bugs and not cockroaches.
Finally, black mold and old cockroach droppings may seem similar. The smeared, dotted appearance and dark, dank corners are common between the two. The biggest difference is the smell. Black mold smells musty and earthy, while cockroach droppings smell pungent and actively unpleasant.
If you are still unsure of whether the droppings you’ve found belong to a roach, you can try looking for these other signs of a cockroach infestation.
Signs of a Cockroach Infestation
If you have found droppings, look for other hints near the droppings. These signs are the easiest way to confirm that cockroaches are the problem:
- Cockroach egg casings. Roach egg casings look like thin, long, hollow tubes. Each of these casings can hold up to 50 baby roaches. If you spot a roach egg casing, you likely have an active roach problem.
- Shed roach skins. As roach nymphs molt into adults, they will shed their exoskeleton. While the number of times roaches will shed their skin varies from roach to roach, the average roach will molt six times. This means there may be more roach skins in your home than actual roaches.
- Foul smell. Roach droppings have a bad smell associated with them. It’s oily, sour and generally disgusting. Even worse, this smell attracts other roaches in the area to the droppings, making infestations worse.
- Live cockroaches. If you see a cockroach, you likely have others, hidden out of sight. You might try to rationalize that it’s some kind of lone wolf, but there’s almost never just one cockroach in a home. If you see a single live cockroach, there are definitely others lurking around.
If you’ve discovered these signs of a roach infestation, your best option is typically to contact a pest control specialist who can implement a comprehensive roach control plan, as these pests can negatively impact your health. Cockroaches have been implicated in the spread of 33 kinds of bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella, as well as six different parasitic worms and more than seven other types of human pathogens. On top of that, cockroach carcasses, shed exoskeletons, saliva and droppings contain allergens which can cause allergic reactions and trigger asthma symptoms.
With this in mind, be diligent when cleaning roach droppings in your home. Wear a mask and gloves, and thoroughly disinfect the area where you have found the excrement.
Also, given the potential for health risks in addition to general discomfort knowing these creatures are living in your home, you’re probably wondering what the best solution is for getting rid of these pests.
What Is the Best Way to Get Rid of Cockroaches?
The best way to get rid of roaches is to use a professional pest control service. Specialists who regularly control pest populations, including roaches, understand the best ways to get rid of these pests and have the appropriate equipment, licenses and experience to handle the products that really work. They can also advise you on how to prevent these problem pests from coming back in the future.
That being said, if you want to try the do-it-yourself route, there are options. First, ignore suggestions such as lemon juice, coffee grounds or bay leaves. These natural “repellents” don’t affect roaches in any serious way. If all it took to repel a roach was some coffee grounds, few homes would have roach problems! Also, some homeowners hope that bringing animals that eat roaches into their homes will help control infestations naturally. However, many animals that eat roaches are nuisance creatures themselves and no animal would be able to eat enough roaches to keep up with roach breeding habits.
To get rid of a roach problem, you need to dedicate time and energy. Since each infestation is unique, you’ll need to experiment with options like home roach sprays and traps to see if you can get rid of your roaches on your own. These sprays and traps are designed to eliminate roaches over time. However, they are less effective than professional options—if they work at all. This means you need to spend more money on repeated applications and you still have roaches in the interim. Worse, these chemicals can be dangerous to handle or ineffective without appropriate precautions.
Whether you attempt roach control yourself or contact a professional, one way to help limit the growth of the roach population in your home is to cut off their food sources. While cockroaches can go extended periods of time without eating, you can still help your efforts by being very vigilant about keeping your home clean. On a regular, if not daily, basis, perform the following duties:
- Wipe down counters, stoves, tables and any other surfaces
- Sweep, mop and vacuum all floors
- Put all food, including pet food, in airtight containers or in the fridge
- Empty pet food and water bowls every night
- Clear all dishes promptly after use and put them directly into the dishwasher
- Regularly take trash to outdoor bins, especially before going to bed
As you can see, cockroaches are one of the most difficult pests to get rid of. They can digest many poisons, they are great at hiding and they are prolific breeders. Because of all these factors, conducting roach control on your own is quite difficult.
The best way to deal with roach problems is to prevent them in the first place, so knowing what attracts these pests is incredibly useful. That way, you can actively practice behaviors that will make your property far less enticing.
What Attracts Cockroaches to Your Home?
The biggest reasons roaches love human homes are the availability of food and water. So, if you have easily accessible food and water, they are far more likely to set up shop in your house—regardless of anything else. This includes whether your home is “dirty” or “clean”. Anecdotally, cockroaches have long been associated with dirty locations, but this is more of a misconception than anything else. The truth is that cockroaches can be found in even the cleanest homes.
Basically, anywhere that gives them food, shelter and moisture is an ideal spot for a cockroach. Even if they don’t make it inside, there are plenty of sheltered, warm places outside with plenty of access to food, such as patios and porches. Fortunately, there are some things you can do around your home and yard to make it a less appealing place for roaches to stick around.
Take these steps to make your property less susceptible to a cockroach infestation:
- Do not leave dirty dishes out or in the sink overnight
- Wipe up all spilled liquids
- Regularly clean beneath and behind cabinets, furniture, sinks and stoves
- Routinely wipe down cupboards, pantry shelves, storage bins and any other areas where food crumbs accumulate
- Any trash receptacles inside the home should have tight seals and trash should be taken to outdoor bins as frequently as possible
- Keep dry pet food in tightly sealed containers and any pet food that is not consumed during the day should not be left out overnight
- Seal up any cracks around the home’s foundation or exterior walls
- Repair any leaking faucets or water pipes
- Move any organic matter, such as firewood, cardboard, mulch or compost piles, away from your home’s exterior
- Sign up for ongoing pest management services
Unfortunately, no matter what you do, sometimes roaches will find their way to your home anyway. If your neighbor has roaches, for example, your house can be pristine and you still may end up getting a problem. All the home prevention measures in the world are no match for a hungry cockroach. However, the most effective way to prevent a roach infestation from happening again is by signing up for ongoing pest control services. These services help to make your property unappealing to roaches and, if roaches do find their way onto your property, your specialist will be able to implement solutions to eliminate these pests before an infestation takes place.
ABC Can Eliminate the Roaches on Your Property
Cockroaches are prolific breeders who can find their way into nearly any home. When it comes to controlling a cockroach infestation, you need a pest control specialist who can create a thorough, effective treatment plan to ensure that your roach population doesn’t continue to multiply. At ABC Home & Commercial Services, we create customized pest management plans so you don’t have to worry about any more run-ins with roaches.