Have you ever caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a cockroach but it wasn’t the usual color you’d expect for most types of roaches? Not very often, but occasionally you might run across a white cockroach. But this will probably get you wondering, what is a white cockroach?
What Is A White Cockroach?
A white cockroach is a roach that has just shed off its exoskeleton. Roaches occasionally will molt their exoskeleton and once they’ve shed their exoskeleton and are waiting for a new one, they’ll be white in color.
How does this happen? Why does it happen? What is an exoskeleton and do roaches even have exoskeletons? Do they remain white and without one forever?
These and more could be questions that come to mind about a white roach, and this article will answer those questions.
What Are Roaches?
Cockroaches are anthropods – invertebrate animals with a segmented (or divided) body (parts), jointed or paired appendages (limbs), and an external skeleton. All insects (the phylum category a roach belongs to) are anthropods and do not have spines.
To keep themselves aright, and to protect and give their bodies shape, they grow an outer hard covering. This is in contrast to other animals such as mammals, who are vertebrates and take their form from an endoskeleton (an inner network path of bones that make up the spine, ribs, skull, etc).
Maturity and Lifespan
Roaches (particularly the American specie which is the most common type found in homes) reach maturity in about 600 days (90 weeks give or take) on average after they have been hatched. Then they go on to live for a year or two more, depending on what sex they are.
While the cockroach might have a lifespan of roughly five years in total, one thing is certain: they go through a process of development in a cycle from egg to lymph to adulthood. They become bigger, darker, and meaner.
Since their exoskeletons, usually attached to their bodies serve as a protection for them as they change in size, the problem of a fixed smaller exoskeleton arises, and the solution of “shedding” it away comes into the picture. This shedding is known as “molting”. It is when a roach gets rid of its former outer shell after a new one has been formed underneath. The discarded outer shell is known as exuviae.
The Albino Cockroach
This new skeleton is always white and this is the reason for the “albino cockroach phenomenon.” They are the normal cockroaches seen around, but rarely in their molting states. It has nothing to do with pigmentation or a freak show of nature; nothing bizarre at all.
Every roach experiences these stages of growth called “instars.” The American roach, for instance, goes through 10 to 13 instars before maturing into an adult, but the number of instars undergone might vary slightly sometimes. Other species of cockroaches also have different instar processes as well.
Molting and Instar: How Does It Take Place?
Note that the molting phase only signals the start of a new instar stage, so they are not the same thing to be used interchangeably. It is just like the thickening of voice and the arrival of the period marks the start of teenagehood in humans.
The molting state can last from anywhere a few minutes to hours and this is when a roach is usually vulnerable and prone to hurting. The exoskeleton is more or less a creamy wax at this point, and so they make sure to completely stay out of sight until bursicon, a hormone in them, helps harden and darken their shells. This is the reason why it seems the white cockroach is a rare one or of another specie entirely.
Aside from the fact that every roach goes through a “whitening” period now and then all through their lives, baby roaches (called nymphs) are always born white before joining in the cycle. So in a way, it can be said that white roaches are baby roaches and vice versa, and it would be sensible. Other adult roaches simply whiten as a ‘rite of passage’, after which they return to their natural colors of dark red, black, and brown.
Are White Cockroaches Poisonous?
White cockroaches aren’t any more dangerous than other roaches ones. They are the same, and they all pose certain risks of spreading diseases, contamination, worsening of asthma and allergies, food poisoning, etc. Their presence should be equally taken seriously, and more than that, a white roach points to the fact of infestation- a new breed of nymphs.
The whiteness isn’t what makes a roach poisonous, but for the fact that it is a roach and it is a germs carrier – all through. From its secretions, on its body parts, and in its (exo) skeleton, which it leaves lying around when it has gotten rid of it.
How To Get Rid Of White Cockroaches
There are several ways to address roaches infestation in the home and they can be generally classified into three broad means:
- A natural method
- Use of homemade products and chemicals
- Hiring the services of a professional pest management team
The Natural Method
This is one of the easiest ways to prevent a roach infestation in the home, and it has everything to do with the environment. Roaches are attracted to warm, moist and dark locations, and open food. So to prevent their outbreak, keeping a clean and tidy environment is important.
No food or leftovers in sight; trash properly discarded and sealed off; spills and stains wipe off, etc. Cracks and leaky drainages should also be patched and fixed up, and untidy objects and places should be decluttered and properly arranged.
Use of Homemade Products and Chemicals
This is the second way to deal with a roach infestation in the home, and it could be both a preventive and combative means. It involves the use of standard chemicals and home-use products that are offensive to roaches when they crawl over or come close to them. They are:
- Sprays (White Vinegar, Citrus, Essential Oils, Lemon, and other insect-repellant smells)
- Powder or Dust (such as Boric Acid, Borax, Baking Soda mixed with Sugar, and Diatomaceous Earth)
- Baits (Glued surfaces on which food is placed and then subsequently traps the roach when it goes over it). This should be discarded immediately after use.
Hire Extermination Services
This is usually the last course of action to resort to for most people when the roach infestation has gone out of hand, beyond manageable.
A pest management team is trained in solving cockroaches’ (and other pests) infestation, and they usually have the in-depth knowledge and adequate tools to do so. They know all about insects, their types, how they reproduce and at what rate, their breeding grounds and hideouts, and what exactly to do to shake them out and annihilate every trace of them. They are mostly very thorough and recommended.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this cockroach guide on what is a white cockroach and it will help solve the mystery!