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Signs of cockroach infestation

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Cockroaches leave behind signs of their presence that are easy to spot before you are likely to see a live insect. As nocturnal creatures, cockroaches usually hide out of sight during the day and only become active at night to search for food.

It is important to discover a cockroach infestation as soon as possible so you can quickly take action to prevent them spreading and multiplying and minimise the health risks associated with this unhygienic insect.

Read below about the signs to look for and the places around your home or business where you can find cockroaches.

Signs of cockroaches

Here are some simple ways you can identify a cockroach infestation:

Cockroach droppings

cockroach dropping

Cockroaches leave a dust of black droppings that look like ground coffee. They are less than 1mm wide and of varying lengths.

Smear marks

If water is abundant cockroaches will produce brown and irregular shaped smear marks as they crawl or rest. Check for marks on horizontal surfaces and at wall-floor junctions where cockroaches are active.

Egg capsules (ootheca)

Egg capsule

Cockroaches lay eggs in a capsule, called an ootheca, containing multiple eggs. The ootheca is distinctive for each species of cockroach. Most species of cockroach drop the ootheca immediately, but the German cockroach carries it until just before hatching, when it releases around 30 tiny nymphs.

The ootheca of the German cockroach has about 18 segments, the brown banded cockroach about 8 segments and the oriental, American, Australian, smoky brown cockroaches have no clear segmentation, but have circular or oval raised areas just below the keel (as seen in the photo)

Shed skin

Cockroaches shed their skins 5-8 times as they mature through the nymph stages to adults and grow in size. Look for these skins of varying sizes in locations you suspect they are sheltering.


Look for unusual signs of damage, not just on food packaging. Cockroaches will attack organic goods including leather and books.

Unusual odour

Cockroaches defecate where they live and sleep, producing a pheromone that attracts other cockroaches to congregate there. To us humans it creates a lingering and unpleasant musty smell that taints items and surfaces they come into contact with and becomes more intense as an infestation grows.

Live cockroaches

You might see cockroaches when turning on a light at night. German cockroaches need warmth and humidity and may be found around bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchen areas. They are also good climbers, scaling smooth surfaces like glass & polished metal with ease due to sticky pads on their feet. Oriental cockroaches can cope with cooler, damp conditions and can be found in basements or drains. Although not as agile as German cockroaches, they can climb a surface such as rough brickwork.


Have you spotted any cockroach signs?

If you have noticed any of the signs above, you should contact Rentokil for professional treatments to get rid of cockroaches quickly. We use the latest technology and innovation to effectively keep cockroaches away. Call Rentokil on 1800-212-212-5 or email us for an effective and reliable solution to a cockroach infestation.

Where do cockroaches live?

Where a cockroach infestation can be found can depend on the species of cockroach that has invaded your property and the ambient conditions in your area. Some species prefer warm and humid conditions, so these are more restricted in cooler climates, whilst others can tolerate cooler conditions.

You can find cockroaches living in these places around your home or business:


Cockroach in the sink

At the back of bathroom cabinets (especially if they are full of soaps and toiletry products that have been stored for a while) or medicine cabinets. Check plumbing behind sinks, baths and toilets, anywhere they can hide in sheltered dark spaces with access to water even if it's simply condensation. They can crawl through the drainage system and up through plug holes in sinks and baths. Cockroaches will happily eat soap residue, toilet paper and tissues and even shed skin cells and hair.


Look in cupboards and cabinets, paying particular attention to hidden or undisturbed areas, including in food packaging. Sometimes cockroaches can be found in the upper inside corner of cupboards, hanging upside down out of sight.

Search around pipework such as under sinks and behind dishwashers. These areas could provide moisture as well as shelter and are often the routes of infestation.

Hidden spaces in appliances with motors, which provide warmth, and hidden crevices like backs of cookers, fridges and freezers are another area to check carefully.

Even smaller kitchen appliances such as microwaves, coffee makers, toasters and blenders could harbour cockroaches and provide them with an array of food particles and residues to live on.

Laundry rooms

Cupboards under sinks, where plumbing enters through walls or floors leading to washing machines and tumble dryers. Also check warm areas near the motors at the back of washers and dryers.


Search along the base and corner joints of walls in cellars for any gaps cockroaches could squeeze through. Cracks in wood baseboards or floor cavities are opportune areas for them to hide. Cockroaches will hide in and eat cardboard and newspapers, so check boxes and piles of paper stored for long periods of time.


Some species such as Oriental cockroaches can survive in drier, cooler areas. Look around downpipes for cracks and crevices they might hide in, as well as damaged drain covers they could scuttle through.


Pipe ducts and any opening beneath porches or decking; undisturbed areas of garages and outbuildings; and rubbish tips. Oriental cockroaches can tolerate cooler conditions so can survive outdoors in a greater range of the country than the German cockroach.

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