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What do cockroach nymphs look like?

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Cockroaches can be found on every continent except Antarctica. They thrive in nearly every climate, living anywhere from deserts to boreal forests. Their name is derived from the Spanish "cucaracha," although they are interchangeably called "cockroaches" and "cockroaches." Cockroaches have three distinct life stages; eggs, nymphs, and adults. Adults look different than nymphs, but — what do cockroach nymphs really look like?

Here, we'll answer that question and learn more about the definition of a cockroach nymph. We'll discuss how to tell the difference between adults, where the nymphs came from, and what they look like. Then, we'll look at the nymphs of some of the most common cockroach species in the United States. Finally, we'll take a closer look at what to do if you spot cockroach nymphs, and how to avoid infestation in the first place.

What are Cockroach Nymphs?

small cockroach cockroach life cycle

© VectorMine/Shutterstock.com

Unlike many other insect species, cockroaches do not have larvae. They change from eggs to nymphs.

Nymphs are small cockroaches that hatch from eggs but are not yet adults. They are kind of like human children and teenagers. Except, when a cockroach nymph gets bigger, it actually sheds its exoskeleton and grows a newer, larger one. Depending on the species, nymphs may molt as many as eight times before reaching adulthood.

Once a nymph becomes an adult, it no longer sheds its exoskeleton. Adults have grown up and don't need to grow new exoskeletons. Nymphs are usually born with at least eight eggshells per eggshell, and there may be many eggshells in a single nest. Research has shown that nymphs actually reach adulthood faster when they are around other baby roaches than when they are alone.

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Where do nymphs come from?

colony of small cockroaches
Cockroach nymphs look like smaller, lighter versions of adult cockroaches

© iStock.com/Dmitriydanilov

Different species of cockroaches lay eggs in different ways. Some species, such as the Australian rhinoceros cockroach, are oviparous and actually keep the eggs inside while the larvae develop. The nymphs hatch inside the mother, and she gives birth to live young.

Other species of cockroaches lay their eggs in shells outside the body. Egg shells look like tiny dried kidney beans. Some species, such as the American cockroach, leave the egg shells in a safe place for the eggs to hatch. Other species, such as the German cockroach, carry the egg shells with them until the eggs are ready to hatch. Depending on the species, there may be as many as 50 eggs per box, and incubation times may be as short as four days.

What do nymphs look like?

Cockroach Nymphs - Isolating Nymphs
Cockroach nymphs are similar to adults but are smaller and, in many species, have undeveloped wings.

© bamgraphy/Shutterstock.com

Generally, nymphs are smaller than adults and are almost white in color. They are often mistaken for albino cockroaches (they are actually just nymphs that have not yet developed their adult body color). Like adults, they have six legs and two long antennae. In winged species, nymphs do not develop wings until they reach adulthood.

Nymphs are also softer than adults, so they are lighter in color. They don't have a hard exoskeleton, which is why they are so pale. The hard shell is dark brown, the classic roach color. Let's take a closer look at what the different cockroach nymphs look like.

German cockroach nymph

German cockroach nymphs are small; less than ½ inch long. They are very light in color with a yellow stripe on the back. Typically, they take about four months to mature into adult German cockroaches. Each egg shell hatches 30-50 nymphs, and an adult female can produce 6-8 egg shells in her lifetime.

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American cockroach nymph

Periplaneta americana nymphs hatch from tiny reddish-brown eggshells that look like kidney beans. They are usually less than 1.5 inches in length and are light reddish brown in color, similar to adults. Their antennae are very long compared to their elongated bodies. After only four days of hatching, it takes a long time for Periplaneta americana nymphs to become adults; up to a year.

Brown-banded cockroach nymph

Brown-banded cockroach nymphs hatch in egg boxes for 70 days. The female sticks the egg shells to the bottom of furniture or warming appliances. Like adults, nymphs have alternating dark brown and tan stripes on their bodies. When they are young, they have two distinct horizontal bands of light on their chests.

What to do if you find cockroach nymphs

Cockroach Nymph - Cockroach Egg
Cockroach egg cases are quite large compared to their bodies.

© Yuliia Hurzhos/Shutterstock.com

Cockroach nymphs look like small, pale versions of adult cockroaches. If you see nymphs, egg shells, shed exoskeletons or droppings – you may have a cockroach infestation. Depending on the severity, you may need to call a professional pest exterminator to fix the problem.

There are also ways to get rid of a cockroach infestation on your own. The first is to use insecticides such as boric acid to kill cockroaches. You can also place glue traps where you see roaches. Traps are best placed at the base of walls, under furniture, near plumbing fixtures, and in areas where there are signs of cockroaches.

infection prevention

Unfortunately, if you see cockroach nymphs, you may already have a roach infestation. Of all life stages (egg, nymph and adult), nymphs are the most numerous. This is because not all nymphs make it to adulthood. They quickly settle in places that provide them with dark, warm hiding places and food.

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There are many things home and business owners can do to prevent nymph hatching and spread. First, it's important to quickly clean up and dispose of all garbage and food scraps. Do not leave food out and clean up dirty dishes and mess immediately. It's also important to reduce the number of places roaches have to hide by clearing clutter and keeping storage areas clean. Cockroaches love corrugated cardboard, so it's best to keep things in plastic tote bags rather than cardboard boxes.

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about the author

Brandi Allred


Brandi is a professional writer by day and a fiction writer by night. Her nonfiction work focuses on animals, nature, and conservation. She has degrees in English and Anthropology and writes horror, science fiction and fantasy stories in her spare time.

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