German roaches have a reputation for being the worst of the worst when it comes to cockroach problems. And with so much focus on the adults, you might assume that a baby German roach or two is the least of your worries, But…
Cue dramatic music…
These terrible, tiny pests are the most telling sign of an established—and growing infestation.
When it comes to the baby German cockroach, step one is identifying them, and steps 2 through “whatever-it-takes,” are getting rid of them.
Let’s get started.
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What Do German Cockroach Babies Look Like?
Take your worst nightmare and shrink it down to half the size of a ladybug. Flat, oval-shaped and six-legged: that’s your baby German cockroach.
They’re usually dark brown to black in color but newly hatched and molting nymphs are soft and white as their fresh exoskeletons harden. Older nymphs look more and more like adults, eventually growing wings in the final stage before adulthood.
Even as a baby, a German roach’s antennae are longer than its body, and it carries a pair of sensory appendages called cerci it will use throughout its life. Baby German roaches already feature their signature pattern: a pair of parallel black bands that begin behind their heads and run the rest of the length of their bodies. You might need a magnifying glass to see them but they’re there.
How big are they?
These tiny terrorizing bugs don’t look like much more than little beetles when they’re babies. Unlike larger species like American cockroaches, German roaches and their babies are extremely tiny—less than half an inch long for the adults and mere millimeters (the size of small grains of rice) when first born. You’ve probably seen ants that are the same size.
The Nymphal Stage: Tiny Baby Roaches to Big Adult Problem
Young roaches are called nymphs from the time they’re born until they reach adulthood. As a baby cockroach matures during the nymphal stage, it sheds its exoskeleton over and over, each time growing a new, larger one. Baby German roaches molt 5–6 times over a period of 50–60 days.
Fun (or really, not so fun) fact: A baby cockroach molts by gulping air until its body expands enough to breaks open its old exoskeleton.
When they finally reach adulthood, they begin searching for a mate. German roaches simply don’t waste any time—they start reproducing just days after becoming adults.
Baby German cockroaches are a health hazard.
They don’t bite. They don’t sting. So why are they a problem?
German cockroaches carry bacteria from all of the unsavory places they venture into—pipes, gutters, walls, dumpsters and more. They can spread that bacteria on food and cooking surfaces, bringing diseases and allergens into your home.
While a single cockroach might not be a problem, the real threat comes from the fact that cockroaches are seldom loners.
Does the Presence of German Cockroach Babies Necessarily Mean an Infestation?
There is nothing cute about a baby cockroach. German roaches, in particular, are one of the most notorious household pests in the world. Seeing even one nymph is reason to be worried.
Why? These roaches breed continuously, producing offspring all year long.
One egg capsule from a single female German cockroach contains 30-40 eggs! When they’re ready to hatch, cockroach nymphs emerge as independent bugs, ready to fend for and feed themselves. A colony can jump from a few roaches to hundreds in a matter of months.
Baby roaches don’t venture far from their nest. Put it this way—if baby roaches are surviving well, it means the adults had an easy time finding food sources and a hiding place where they could lay their eggs.
Which brings us to…
What are German roaches (of any stage) attracted to?
German roaches are attracted to damp or humid areas. Exterminators have treated infestations in basements, attics, closets and bedrooms. They can thrive almost anywhere there’s enough moisture available.
Their favorite habitats, though, are kitchens and bathrooms. German roaches usually hide during the day in cupboards, crevices and behind appliances, only emerging at night to scavenge for food on floors and countertops. Seeing baby roaches in the kitchen? It’s a better than good bet they’re German.
Other Signs of a German cockroach infestation
Maybe you’re not sure if you’ve seen a baby German cockroach because it scurried under the refrigerator so quickly. These are a few other signs you might have an infestation:
- Cockroach droppings
- A stale, musty odor
- Egg cases or molted skins
- Dead roaches
Depending on the species (and German roaches are one of these) roach droppings look like tiny black specks gathered on the floor or in a cabinet. You might mistake it for coffee grounds if it weren’t for the musty odor. That odor sticks to surfaces and food they’ve touched, too.
German cockroach egg cases look like tiny, quarter-inch purses or capsules. They’re dark brown and show that the roaches are already laying eggs and hatching. Dead roaches might seem like a good sign but it could mean there are more than could fit in the nest.
German Cockroach Nymphs in Your Home: What It Means
Baby cockroaches are about as bad a sign as you can find. See, finding a big brown adult cockroach could mean you’ve just caught one lonely wanderer. Finding baby roaches signals that, at the very least, there are a few adults nearby and they’re ready to reproduce again.
Once you find baby German cockroaches, it’s time to act… fast. In about two months, those babies will be fully developed and ready to start having babies of their own. Don’t give them the chance.
Getting Rid of Baby German Cockroaches: No Holds Barred
The moment of truth. If you’ve read this far, chances are you’re sweating, stressed and dreading what we’re about to say. But we’re not here to scare you; we’ve got the facts and proven advice for getting rid of them.
Fact #1: You can get rid of baby German cockroaches for good. They’re resilient, clever and stubborn but they’re not unstoppable.
That’s the good news. The bad news…
Are they hard to get rid of?
The German cockroach is Public Enemy #1 for homeowners and pest controllers for a reason: they’re tough to exterminate. They grow quickly and, worse, they have dozens of babies each time they lay an egg case.
Fact #2: They thrive on just a little food, a lot of moisture and a good hiding place. Even the cleanest homes are at risk.
How long does it take to get rid of them?
Be prepared. Taking on baby cockroaches yourself is going to take awhile. You’ll need to search, clean, carefully place baits along with other treatments. and then monitor the effects.
It can be done though, and if you’re ready to try, see “How to Get Rid of German Roaches Step-by-Step” for a complete guide.
You could also hire a professional exterminator who could eliminate a cockroach infestation in 2–3 weeks. That’s usually enough time for the pesticides to work their way through the colony and stop the adult roaches from reproducing.
Hiring a pro will be more expensive, but will also eliminate the dirty work!
How do you get rid of roaches fast?
We cover a variety of all-natural and DIY cockroach control methods that have the potential to eliminate infestations. However, the most effective, fastest solution to a baby German roach problem is to use pesticides.
Whether you choose baits or a spray, these products are designed to kill roaches individually, introduce insect growth regulator to render them infertile, and take down entire roach colonies at a time. When it’s time to get serious about pests, don’t take chances.
Baits are the best German cockroach killers.
Baits may be your best bets against German roaches, not because they’re as fast as kill-on-contact sprays, but because they spread their active ingredient from roach to roach, packing a much harder punch against medium- or large-sized infestations.
When you’re dealing with baby roaches, you have to treat the problem like it’s an already-established infestation. Using sticky cockroach traps can help you gauge the size of the colony and narrow your search for the nest.
Baits should be used in concentrated amounts and in specific areas where German roaches most likely walk. Use your knowledge of their habits—target areas where you think they’re going for food and water.
You can include natural cockroach killers in your extermination plan, too.
Fact #3: Both food-grade diatomaceous earth, boric acid and borax work as effective insecticides against adult and baby German cockroaches.
Keeping German Cockroaches Away
You’ve dealt with baby German cockroaches once; you don’t want to do it again. For everything from cleaning, sealing and repair tips to the essential oil smells that cockroaches hate, don’t miss our complete guide to keeping cockroaches away for good.
When we’re talking cockroaches, bad things tend to come in small packages. German cockroaches are the worst species to find in your home, and seeing even a single baby German cockroach is a likely sign of infestation.
But with this information and help from your local exterminator, you can get back to your cockroach-free life.
You’ve got this!
Written by Andrew Martin. Reviewed by Rae Osborn, 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 writes for, and along with his daughter, publishes Cockroach Facts. You can read more about him here.
Rae Osborn, PhD.
Dr. Rae Osborn holds Honors Bachelor of Science degrees in Zoology and Entomology, and a Master of Science in Entomology from the University of Natal in South Africa. She holds a PhD in Quantitative Biology from the University of Texas at Arlington, where her research was in Entomology. You can learn more about our contributors here.
- Ross, Mary H. and Donald E. Mullins (1995) Understanding and Controlling German Cockroaches: Biology. Oxford University Press.
- German Cockroach: Biology, Identification, Control (2013) NC State Extension. Retrieved from https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/german-cockroach/