Many people have seen a white cockroach. At the time, many of them thought it was an “albino cockroach”. It surprises most people to learn that an “albino cockroach” is not something rare. In fact, it is part of process that all cockroaches go through.
Cockroaches, along with all of the other insects, belong to the group called arthropods. The crustaceans, the centipedes and millipedes, and arachnids, such as spiders are all arthropods too.
All arthropods have an outer shell called an exoskeleton. The word exoskeleton means “skeleton on the outside”. In order to grow larger, all arthropods must shed their exoskeleton once in a while. This shedding process is called molting.
When an arthropod is getting ready to molt, it develops a new exoskeleton inside of the old one. The new exoskeleton is soft and flexible until molting is finished.
When it molts, the animal crawls out of the old exoskeleton and leaves it behind. During the summer, many people find cast-off cicada skins on tree trunks or screens. After molting, the animal is vulnerable until the new exoskeleton hardens. This is why cockroaches usually molt in dark hiding places.
For some arthropods, like crabs, it takes several days for the new exoskeleton to harden. For insects, like cicadas and cockroaches, the new exoskeleton hardens in a just a few hours.
When a cockroach molts, the new exoskeleton is usually white or cream-colored. As the new exoskeleton hardens, it darkens until it finally looks like all of the other cockroaches of that species.
After a cockroach has molted, the old exoskeleton dries out and crumbles to bits. Over time, some of these tiny particles of dried-up exoskeleton can become airborne. These particles of exoskeleton can trigger an allergic reaction in many people.
When there is a large population of cockroaches, there can be a lot of cockroach allergens in the air inside of the home. Some people develop asthma because of these particles in the air.
Homeowners who have a cockroach problem can fight back by cleaning. A vacuum cleaner is an effective tool. Use the hose and nozzle to remove cockroaches from the cracks and crevices where they hide. This will also pick up some of the particles at the same time. Be sure to wrap the vacuum bag in a trash bag and discard it outdoors. It sometimes helps to caulk cracks and crevices in the kitchen and bathroom to prevent future cockroach problems.
Roach bait is an effective way to get rid of the roaches that the vacuum cleaner missed. Either the plastic cockroach bait stations or the gel cockroach bait can be very effective. Make sure to keep the bait filled until there is no more cockroach activity. Sticky traps are a good way to monitor where the roaches are still active.
Cockroaches usually cannot be eliminated in one treatment. Many people prefer to have a pest control professional handle the baiting, the monitoring, and the follow-up.