I Saw One Cockroach. Should I Be Worried?

Last Updated on November 25, 2023 by Kimberly Crawford

Roaches have roamed the earth for millions of years of now, living and thriving with what they can scavenge.

Perhaps, if they were not feeding on anything, we would have appreciated seeing one because they are archaic creatures.

But knowing their lifestyle as insects/pests puts us into asking if I see one cockroach, should I be worried? And if I do see one, what should I do? Are there others? Where could I possibly see the entire colony?

When it comes to roach control, one question will lead to another. But it is time to put these questions into momentary ease because we will cover everything about what to do if you see roaches in your home. 

Should I worry if I see one roach?

the cockroaches

So let us get this straight: yes, you should probably be worried if you see one roach in your home because it might be a sign of probable infestation. Or if it is not yet on that level, well seeing one is a call of action to early prevention. 

But you also have to consider that sometimes, it is possible to just have one roach at home.

In these instances, you must have spotted a loner roach because it just got carried when you placed the firewood or from sorted boxes.

It could also be the last roach in a colony. But then again, these are just probable assumptions and since they live nocturnally, you can never really know if there are more and that the roach you saw is just the cockroach scout in the colony who will signal them that you are still around. 

Is one roach a sign of infestation?

The general rule is that seeing one roach could be a sign of probable infestation. This is not to sound overreacting but it only takes a flick for other roaches to come in and join the fun.

They would enter through holes, sewers, pipes, cracks, and take on dark and damp locations in the home without you even noticing it.

When roaches find that your home is a supportive environment for their scavenger nature, it only takes one roach scout to signal the others. So yes, you could say that one roach is a sign of infestation especially for homes that we could say are really sanitary. 

Roaches: How many are too many?

It is great to know that there are numerical indicators to say if what you have in your home is a light, moderate, or full-blown infestation that needs immediate extermination.

According to experts and pest control services, seeing one to five roaches per room everyday would indicate light infestation already.

Ten to twenty-five roaches per room everyday denote moderate infestation and calls for more aggressive pest control or the use of the chemical method.

More than twenty-five roaches per room everyday signal heavy infestation. This means that you have to call for extermination services already. 

What should I do if I see a cockroach?

There are two things to check if you see one cockroach. As we have mentioned, one could mean a developing infestation or a full-blown one.

You can assess the gravity of the situation by checking their possible hiding spots and looking for signs of roach infestation. 

Checking their hiding spots in your house

If there is one thing that roaches are good at, it is hiding. This is the reason why you have to detect early on their hiding spots. Basically, roaches hide in dark, moist, and out of the radar locations in your home.

They are also most likely to be niching near water and food sources. As such, start scouring in cabinets, the kitchen, beneath the refrigerator, furniture, and other appliances.

Check also the bathroom especially in tubs and sinks. Lastly, check your basement, your shed, and the storage room or look for leaking pipes, around the sewer and where the firewood is. 

Signs of cockroach infestation

Sometimes, seeing one roach may not be enough reason to worry. But it is another thing to see some evidence of possible infestation.

If you have checked all the hiding places and found a few roaches and got rid of them yet signs of roach infestation are still around, something still needs to be done. So what signs would you look for?

Here is a rundown of the signs of roach infestation that you should be on a lookout for. 

Roach droppings

cockroach droppings
Image credit: entomology.ca.uky.edu

Roach feces for one could trigger asthma attacks or allergies because of a specific protein that it contains.

Roach droppings are those black, elongated, pepper-like thingies that would be found where roaches are frequently walking on.

Take notice of the amount and concentration of the droppings as they could denote the level of infestation. 

Roach eggs

cockroach eggs

These ones are those reddish-brown, tiny capsules left by roaches in carefully chosen hiding places.

They are mostly in small holes, floor gaps, crevices, and stocked up cardboard boxes.

Some roach types like the brown-banded roaches lay their eggs in elevated spaces since they could fly. With this, you also need to check on locations near the ceiling. The more you see casings in your home, the more roaches are there. 

Cockroach body parts

This is one messy thing about roaches; they leave roach body parts anywhere, either intact or bits of it.

You see, after they hatch out of their casings, they will still need at least four to eight weeks to grow hardened exoskeletons, leaving their molten bodies where they walk.

And since they do not get to live for long periods of time, you would find them in one piece where they died or scattered bits of them as they have been fed on by other roaches.

Again, the more sightings of body parts would mean more roaches around the house. 

Cockroach odor

If the infestation has become wide, your home will start smelling like roaches. It smells like a greasy, musty, sometimes fermented odor. The stronger the scent, the greater number of roaches hiding in your home. 

When it comes to these pests, you should always be level-headed and do not panic right away.

Assessing the level of infestation or preventing the occurrence of one lies in the proper evaluation of the situation. Starting with these two and doing it thoroughly is an essential preventive measure to employ. 

What to do next if you found an infestation?

Now that you know where to find them and what signs you could look for to follow an infestation, you must now prepare a strategic plan for getting rid of them.

We have mentioned in a previous section the counting when it comes to identifying the level of a roach infestation in the home. Following the counting will allow you to assess which type of intervention should be done. 

Getting rid of them

get rid of cockroaches

There are two ways to get rid of roaches. One involves natural methods while the other one involves the chemical method.

The natural method typically involves some basic sealing and exclusion techniques like sealing cracks and holes in the floor, wall, window sill, screens, and vents. Regular cleaning and decluttering plus using minty humidifiers around the house will also help you get rid of them. 

When the infestation has gone big, the chemical method should be enforced. You have a lot to choose from when it comes to this. The most common chemical methods to get rid of roaches are: 

  • Using traps and pheromone baits and granular. 
  • Insecticidal dust. 
  • Residual and non-residual sprays. 
  • Perimeter treatments using insecticide. 

When it is no longer manageable or you have reservations in terms of choosing the natural or chemical method, we should mention the third one. Now, this is only done when it is truly necessary or when it becomes full-blown.

The third intervention is to call for a professional pest control team to apply the chemicals and to give you advice on what other things should be done to permanently get rid of roaches in your home. 

How to prevent an infestation

dead cockroach

To prevent roach infestation, you have to bear in mind a few things. One, they love dark, damp places so you have to seal early on what needs to be sealed.

Also, do not leave crumbs, leftovers, or piles of firewood for them not to be encouraged to take shelter in your home.

You must also apply perimeter treatment early on especially near the sewers and pipes. Make sure that garbage cans are not near water sources and that the lids are always shut. 

Drawing from this, preventing an infestation is sometimes just a matter of proper sanitation. It means that certain lifestyle routines are supporting the infestation of roaches. Thus, to prevent probable infestations, a few sanitation tweaks should be done in the home. 


At the heart of the question “should I worry if I see one cockroach” would be two things. One would be the likelihood of a full-blown roach infestation and two, the call to action that when it comes to these pests, an ounce of prevention is really, always better than cure.

There are many ways to check a probable infestation and there are many measures to not need it in the first place.

Applying sanitation and exclusion techniques should always be a priority and being mindful of when they enter our homes are musts. So you see, the question is very valid and we should not take one roach sighting for granted because it could mean many things. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Roach control is a never-ending battle because an infestation could recur anytime. As such, it needs sustainability, and for you to know what to watch out for aside from those that were already mentioned, here are some FAQs that you should know about. 

What causes roaches in a clean house?

The easy answer to this is that roaches are inevitable even in clean homes. There are a lot of things and activities that might bring them inside and not necessarily because you have a messy house or so.

One of the reasons why roaches enter clean homes is moisture. They love damp spaces and if your home provides that, no matter how clean it is, they will come. This is also the reason why their most common hiding spaces would be bathrooms, kitchens, and the laundry area. 

Remember, even if you have a clean house, as long as there are hiding spots available and ample food supply, not having roaches in the home is next to impossible. 

How do you know where roaches are coming from?

This is quite connected to locating where their hiding spots are. Using a flashlight, vacuum, you can look for their entry holes beneath furniture, appliances, in storage rooms, the kitchen or bathroom.

You can also leave food/pheromone baits or granular and observe their entry points. Leave the baits in vents, crevices, holes, gaps, and cracks around the house. Also, leave some near appliances and below furniture. 

It has to be noted though, that inspecting their entry points is better when it is done when it’s dark. Again, roaches are nocturnal and most of their activities are done when it is already dark. 

Should I call an exterminator for one cockroach?

This one depends on things other than just seeing one cockroach.

If upon seeing the one you started to check for hiding places and looked for probable signs of infestation and found none, all you have to do is to employ preventive measures as have been mentioned in the previous sections.

If you saw one and found significant numbers of egg casings, roach body parts, and all the other signs of infestation, then probably call for an exterminator. Aside from this, observing the number of roaches seen in any part of the house per day should be considered. 

You have to understand that there are times when a simple pest management plan is what the situation requires. But if you do not want to take matters on your hand with roaches, calling for an exterminator for one cockroach is still a valid option.

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