Introduction – Is There a Tiny Zombie Infesting Your Home?

You’ve discovered something disgusting and honestly – kind of creepy on the floor. It’s a roach, which is bad, very bad. But this one… this one is white. Like a mutant. A mistake of nature. Or some kind of cockroach nightmare. It’s an albino cockroach, or at least that’s what comes to mind.

Whatever it is, is it dangerous? Should you be concerned? What should you do? Let’s look at white roaches, where they come from, and what it really means when you spot one in your home.

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What are White Roaches?

So, what is a white roach? Let’s begin with what white roaches aren’t. They’re not a separate species. They’re not technically albino. And though you may not have seen one before, they’re not rare – not in the slightest.

White cockroaches are not a different species.

What they are, are roaches in transition- regular, everyday roaches in the middle of a process called a molt. And what’s a molt? It’s an important part of the cockroach life cycle – the way they become bigger, badder cockroaches.

How Creepy White Cockroaches Turn into Nasty Brown Ones

Molting cockroach: A soft, white cockroach emerges from its discarded exoskeleton.
A cockroach sloughs off its old exoskeleton.

Like other insects, roaches don’t have bones to support their bodies. Instead, they rely on a hard outer covering called an exoskeleton to do the job. But exoskeletons don’t grow the way bones do, and maturing cockroaches eventually outgrow them.

When that happens, cockroaches grow a replacement. A new exoskeleton develops beneath the old one, and the old exoskeleton is shed. That process is known as a molt and roaches are white each time it happens. Depending on the species, cockroaches will go through 5 to 14 molts as they mature – growing larger, more destructive, and closer to mating capability with each one.

Why Haven’t I Seen More of Them?

Molting white cockroach leaves its old exoskeleton far behind.
Soft and creamy white in color, molting cockroaches are vulnerable as their shells harden and darken.

You’re unlikely to have seen an “albino roach” before because of the way cockroaches behave during a molt. With all their muscles attached to a temporarily squishy exoskeleton (Imagine all your bones turning into rubber occasionally-how well could you move?), white roaches can’t move very fast. And during this period of time their soft shells make them easy to attack.

Though not rare, you’re unlikely to see very many white roaches.

This level of vulnerability makes them extra cautious, which is why you don’t see them very often. When ready to molt, they seek out shelter to avoid being eaten or injured and stay there for the few minutes or few hours it takes their exoskeleton to harden and darken. And it’s usually only sometime after that – when they look like regular roaches again – that you’ll see them scurrying across your kitchen or bathroom floor.

Are White Roaches Dangerous?

Discarded cockroach exoskeleton
Shed exoskeletons can carry disease.

White roaches may look more sinister than other roaches, but no – they aren’t. They aren’t known to bite and don’t have stingers.

That being said, here’s the scary truth about white cockroaches: Like other roaches, they can carry disease. And their shed exoskeletons, feces, and egg cases cause and worsen both asthma and allergies.

So you definitely don’t want a white roach, or any other roach, in your pantry, on your kitchen counter, or anywhere else inside your home.

If I’ve Seen One in My Home, What Does it Mean?

Discovering an “albino roach” on a floor or in a cupboard means a few things, none of which should be taken lightly. As mentioned, like other cockroaches, white roaches signal potential danger in the form of allergic reactions, asthma attacks and food poisoning. So that’s for starters.

If you see a white roach, you also know that unless another roach has eaten it, there’s a shed exoskeleton somewhere nearby, possibly harboring disease. And since cockroaches congregate, there are sure to be more roaches in your home, along with more feces, more shed exoskeletons, and probably egg cases in the vicinity. It’s quite possible that cockroaches have been in your food, potentially depositing bacteria, viruses, parasites, mold, and/or fungi that could make you sick.

And keep this gruesome fact in mind:

Because white roaches take the trouble to hide so well, and you’re much less likely to see them than other roaches, what you’re seeing is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg. There are probably many more roaches than you imagined, and you may even have a full-blown infestation on your hands.

Next Steps

Spotting an albino roach isn’t a curiosity. It’s a wake-up call. You’ll need to immediately hunt down their shelter areas and start pest control.

Spotting an albino cockroach isn’t a curiosity. It’s a wake-up call.

There are many ways to manage pests on your own, but if this is a true infestation, the smart choice would be to call a pest control company right away. They are specially trained in roach control and have years of experience managing pest situations just like yours.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a white roach?

A white roach is a cockroach that has shed its old exoskeleton, revealing the new exoskeleton underneath. During this period, which lasts from a few minutes to a few hours depending on the species, the new exoskeleton is soft and creamy white in color. It may look like a different species, but it’s not.

Where do white roaches come from?

A white roach is a cockroach that has shed its old exoskeleton, revealing the new exoskeleton underneath. During this period, which lasts from a few minutes to a few hours depending on the species, the new exoskeleton is soft and creamy white in color. It may look like a different species, but it’s not.

How rare is a white cockroach?

Since all cockroaches molt and all molt at least several times as they mature, white cockroaches are not rare at all. Actually seeing them can be rare because they tend to hide so well.

What is a white roach called? Is it albino?

“Albino roach” is not the correct term for a roach passing through a molt, and there’s not really a specific term for a cockroach passing through this stage, other than a “molting cockroach.” There is a term for the period between molts, which is called an “instar,” and a name for the old exoskeleton left behind (it’s called an exuviae).

Is a baby cockroach white?

Yes and no. After a newly hatched cockroach emerges from its egg sac, its new exoskeleton is soft and white, but soon darkens and hardens. Since it may molt as many as 14 times before fully maturing, a baby cockroach (or cockroach nymph) will be white at least several more times before it has reached adulthood. But will be brown or black (just like adult roaches) most of the time.

Written by Andrew Martin. Reviewed by James Miksanek, PhD.

Disclaimer: This page is strictly for informational use. When using insecticides, keep in mind—the label is the law. Insecticides should be applied correctly and safely when needed, and according to the laws of your state or country.

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin


Andrew writes for, and along with his daughter, publishes Cockroach Facts. You can read more about him here.

James Miksanek, PhD

James Miksanek, PhD.

Science Editor

James is an entomologist and adjunct professor of biology. His background is in biological control, and he has a passion for ecology and environmental science. His research has addressed a variety of topics including pest control and the management of invasive species. You can learn more about our contributors here.


  1. I think we have more than one kind of roach at my house. Between the neighbors draining their pool/cleaning up trash in their yard/ and just being dirty and the kudzu keeping it wet around here. And also we have the drainage that runs down and under the road. Its VERY hard to get rid of them. But you can be 5ft away from them and they see you and will JUMP, yes JUMP 2ft more away. And they also fly. Only about 2ft maybe at a time. But I swear, come to my home just to see how much they’ve evolved.

  2. I am inspecting resident @ 2517 Brian St.
    I never in my life seen an Albino roach before but Brian st is full of water mostly and so the roaches can Clean off they’re body after hiding in Walls. I am concerned there are more in the walls and don’t know what to do.? The Big ones are tall and skinny and look like hillbillies

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