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The illusive ‘White roaches’

by The Bug Doctor

roaches in stages pestcemetery 300x215 The illusive White roachesWhat do all these roaches have in common? There are German roaches, Palmetto, Wood roaches, Surinam roach, Cuban roach, Oriental roach, American roach, Brown Banded roach, Asian roach, American roach, Australian roach and a termite. (Ok a termite is not a roach but he has this same commonality)

They all grow via ‘gradual’ metamorphosis meaning as nymphs they resemble the adult but what I’m getting at is they all are at one time or another white in color.

We’re all familiar with the ugly caterpillar story where nobody likes him and he’s not very attractive.albino american roach pestcemetery 150x150 The illusive White roaches He plods along in life inching his way around being ridiculed and then one day spins a cocoon. (Presumably to escape his tormentors) Time goes by and everyone forgets about the ugly caterpillar when one day the cocoon opens and he emerges as this beautiful butterfly. That is what is called a ‘complete’ metamorphosis where the young or larva stage looks nothing like the adults. In almost all insects who develop with complete metamorphosis the larva not only look different but they eat different foods, may only walk but then emerge as a flyer, are attracted to different scents or light situations, go from predator to passive and may be changed from nocturnal to active in the day or any combination of the above. Our little roach friends however start out and end up with much the same traits they were born with.

albino roach on finger pestcemetry 150x150 The illusive White roachesThere is a stage however that most people don’t get to see, it’s the time of molting where the roach has grown too big for his exoskeleton. Think of insects as having their bones on the outside of their body and when they outgrow them the exterior shell spits open and the larger sized roach emerges. During this time a roach is perfectly white with the exception of his eyes.

The reason you don’t see this very often is that they are pretty vulnerable at this time so they may recede deeper into your walls or cabinets for safety while this process takes place. Often thought of as an albino roach people will scoop this little critter up in a jar and want to show others. A couple of hours later they meet up with their friend and present to them the white roach who is now completely brown or black.

roach shedding skin pestcemetery 221x300 The illusive White roachesJust like the butterfly who emerges from her cocoon and sits quietly on a twig moving his wings up and down to get the ‘blood’ circulating and the wings dried and ready for flight, the roach will spend a few hours in the dark as his body fluids fill this new larger exoskeleton and part of the process is the ‘color’ being pumped into what was once a silky white shell.

I first learned this lesson years ago while training on a bad German roach job with my service manager. We had roaches dropping from the ceiling and pouring out of every crack and crevice there was. When out from a crack came a ‘white’ roach, I became so excited and exclaimed that I had found an albino roach. I was so sure that I would get a raise and be recognized for finding this rare fluke of nature in only my first few days on the job. Instead my manager put me back on book duty for the next couple of days figuring I needed to do some more reading.

It’s kind of rare that the homeowner will ever see this stage of a roach’s life being that they tend to hide deeper in their environment until the process is complete but we do get calls from time to time. Callers ask if there is a new bug that’s invaded the town and they almost always seem disappointed when we explain what they’ve seen. I guess they would rather have some new exotic pest in their dead roach pestcemetery 300x225 The illusive White roacheshomes than just a plain old roach. Most parents that have called also ask if there is some way they can preserve the white color until the kids get home from school. “Short of putting it in the freezer, I guess you could always step on it” we reply but that’s usually followed with silent disgust and an awkward moment. We’re great at killing bugs but perhaps humor is not one of our long suits.

While no one I know is happy with any roach found in their home, they almost always make the exception and go out of their way to catch the ‘illusive white roach’ alive and well. When they find out it’s only a temporary color then your guess is as good as mine what they do to the poor insect who was only trying to grow.


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  • John Gillaspy

    i found a roach who has no color what so ever is just an offwhite and tiny i have never seen one

  • John Gillaspy

    i found a roach who has no color what so ever is just an offwhite and tiny i have never seen one

  • The Bug Doctor

    Hey John,

    That’s cool, You don’t get to see them like that much because they are so vulnerable in that state. When I find them is usually when I remember I forgot my camera. Keep up the good work hunting down.
    Thanks for reading

    The Bug Doctor

  • The Bug Doctor

    Hey John,

    That’s cool, You don’t get to see them like that much because they are so vulnerable in that state. When I find them is usually when I remember I forgot my camera. Keep up the good work hunting down.
    Thanks for reading

    The Bug Doctor

  • Not impressed

    ummm ewwww. I was completely disgusted when I saw one. 

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    little different –that’s for sure ;)

  • Nemesis 22

    i have albino roach living in the house. it eats other cockroaches. is that normal

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Not really- you see an albino roach is really only ‘white in color’ for a few hours after molting and then it gains its dark color back as fluids are pumped through the body. It is in a vulnerable state during this time so I doubt its in any cannibalistic mood.

  • Mcculloughkevin77

    i just found 1 and put it into a container to show my family lol, i was so fascinated by the thing i really didnt want to kill it, it just seemed like some new kind of roach or like this 1 mutated to match our walls lol XD but after reading this i now have a much better understanding of roaches  :)  Great article btw sir.

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Thank you,

    Was the roach still white when you showed your family? – lol I’ve had customers save them in jars for me and so excited to show me– when they held up the jar, the roach was brown again- they sure were disappointed.

  • Petzplace

    Neat article.  I didn’t know that about white roaches.  I saw one once and thought it was an albino.  Thanks for the info!

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Thank you- for reading my blog.

  • http://twitter.com/jaygalvezo jay galvezo

    Love your article. Neat stuff you write here. Will be looking out for your posts; thanks!

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Thank you

  • Brittanyhasty89

    where are u located? i am having terminex come in every 2 WEEKS and im still having a roach infestation problem. and what i dont get it that my home is clutter free and always clean due to i have OCD and it better stay that way. but its discouraging when u find a roach floating in what would have been dinner and have to start all over again… YUCK

  • Brittanyhasty89

    i read this article bc i have seen 2 “albino” roaches in the last few days and a family member of mine told me that i needed to watch out for them bc they are harder to get rid of and i will end up paying more money in the long run to get rid of them

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    The ‘white’ roaches are not truly albino- they are just in a state of casting off their outer skin and the color will come back in a few hours–so there is no real truth to what your friend has said. As far as having ‘T’ come out, give them a chance, roaches are not easily eliminated no matter what company you choose.

  • Eileen

    Uuugghh I hate them things I dont care what the color is they are disgusting.I kill them every moment I get to.

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    I’m sending you an application lol

  • Myboomike

    I need to get rid of these roaches. I’ve had a professional exterminator come in and it’s been a month and they are still here.

  • http://pestcemetery.com The Bug Doctor

    Sorry to say that most roach infestations don’t disappear that fast even with a pro. There are just too many factors involved–my advice would be to listen to the guy/gal you hired and do any and all tasks they ask for. Then with time, your roaches will be gone.

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