Where Do Cockroaches Live in the House?


Where do cockroaches live in the house or apartment? It’s a common question, not least because these insects are elusive and stay away from people and daytime. Roaches tend to come out four hours after sunset, and only then in spaces where there are no humans or indoor lights on. But if you do see a lone cockroach scurrying across the floor, well, there’s likely to be many more of them—somewhere.

The Resident Roach

Below are four well-known signs that indicate a cockroach nest somewhere in the home:

1. The occasional sighting of a dead or live roach
2. Tiny mouse-like droppings in dark spaces
3. Purse-shaped egg capsules (oothecae) inside nooks and crannies
4. A musty chemical odor called aggregation pheromone

The larger the invasion, the bigger the problem, and the more pungent the odor. That last point is bad news as a stronger scent attracts even more roaches to an already expanding nest.

Hiding in Homes

Roaches avoid contact and conflicts with humans, pets, and other creatures. They are one of nature’s skilled hiders. People often have their first glimpse of a severe infestation when they get out of bed at night and turn on a light. That could be the restroom, for example, where you may see a dark carpet of roaches frantically dashing away from the bright bulb. And within only a few seconds, they’re all gone.

But where do so many roaches come from, and where do they go?

There’s No Place Like Home

The most common pest in US homes is the German cockroach. The American kind tends to stay away from human habitats. They prefer to live in out-of-the-way structures like sewers and basements.

Most of America’s roaches favor the outdoors in dark, moist, and warm conditions. Their habitat varies depending on the species and region. It could be under fallen logs, mulch, leaf litter, storage sheds, and garbage cans, etc. Roaches move into buildings that have plentiful food to eat and water to drink. They tend to enter homes when the conditions are more favorable than the outdoor environment.

Roaches need to find dark, safe spaces to nest in human homes. That typically includes:

  • Narrow cracks in walls, crevices, nooks, and crannies
  • Under kitchen sinks, huddled around leaking or damp pipes
  • Behind refrigerators
  • The back of seldom-used cabinets and draws
  • Crawl spaces

Other Routes into Homes

Cockroaches don’t always deliberately seek refuge inside human habitats. They sometimes gain access by accident and start to nest once inside. You could bring an item home in a box that has a pregnant German roach hiding in it. Even an egg case concealed in a piece of luggage or item of new furniture can be the start of an infestation. Backpacks and bags also offer a free ride for the insects,

Cockroach Nests Defined

Cockroaches do not have a nest in the traditional sense in that they don’t build any kind of structure. Thus, a nest of roaches refers to a colony of insects living together in a hidden space. It’s not always easy to see where they’re at just by looking. A full-sized adult can squeeze through tiny 3mm gaps in less than a second, thanks to its flexible exoskeleton.

Catching and Killing Roaches

People often think they can catch, kill, or remove cockroaches if they find the nest. Anyone who’s chased after one knows capture is harder than it sounds. They can run 50+ body lengths a second. If that were a human, we’d be sprinting at 200 miles per hour. You can’t easily kill one by stamping on it either. That’s because roaches can withstand forces 900+ times their own body weight.

You can get over-the-counter insecticides and pesticides. However, it’s worth trying conventional methods first if the infestation is still small.

How to Maintain a Roach-Free Home

Most homes have plenty of hiding places for roaches to nest, but you can’t expect to know them all. What you can do, however, is keep these disease-carrying critters outside after you get rid of them.

Here are 7 hands-on solutions to deter roaches and other bugs from re-entering the home:

  1. Never put the kitchen cleanup off till the following morning
  2. Clean countertops, and keep floors free from crumbs and grease
  3. Get into the habit of cleaning behind and under kitchen appliances
  4. Always keep lids on food containers
  5. Check and repair any plumbing leaks no matter how slight
  6. Get familiar with roach droppings, eggs, odor, and shed skins
  7. Seal any holes, cracks, and spaces under doors that offer entry into the home

Remember, a full-sized adult roach can squeeze through the smallest of gaps. These critters can pose serious health risks to humans if left to breed according to the WHO (World Health Organization). Take measures to prevent an invasion if your home is free of the pests. You can do this by blocking access points and placing repellants around the property.


Simon Mann is a "handy man" to have around the house. Although he was a trained carpenter he went on to become a VP of a construction company. Any pest or DIY problem you may have, he always seems to come up with the right solution.

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