cockroach infestation

Cockroach Infestation Signs to Look for When Apartment Hunting

Cockroaches are one of the top bugs we love to hate. According to PestWorld, they rank No. 2, just under bed bugs. Their creepy appearance and sheer will to survive make a cockroach infestation something you to avoid at all costs. You definitely don’t want to move into a new place where roaches are already living. This means looking at potential apartments with a critical eye.

Cockroaches are sneaky, but if you know the signs that they’re hanging around, you can skip signing a lease on an infested apartment.

How common are roaches in apartments?

It’s sad news, but cockroaches are one of the most common pests in homes and apartment buildings. They often come out at night, looking for something to eat and drink, but it’s not just crumbs that attract them. Food in your drain, a trash can without a lid or even an open package in your pantry can entice them.

Roaches are also insanely resilient. They can live up to a few years and even survive for up to a week without their heads. They’ll also eat anything.

These traits make it likely that you’ll encounter at least one roach, in one apartment, as a renter. Whether or not you’re facing a cockroach infestation, though, is another story.


Where do roaches like to hide?

You have to know cockroaches are sneaky insects before you can determine if there’s an infestation. They’re so good at hiding that unless you know where to look, you might not realize you’re looking at an apartment with a problem.

As you do any walkthrough of a potential place to live, make sure to check these key areas for roaches:

  • Behind large appliances like the fridge or oven. Cockroaches like the kitchen because it’s warm and has food and water readily available.
  • Inside cabinets, especially ones where the previous tenant had food. Rogue crumbs could have enticed a roach or two.
  • Near water pipes. These are mostly located where it’s dark — a favorite hiding spot. A small drip is like a resort for cockroaches.
  • Around hot water heaters (for the same reasons you looked at the pipes)
  • Inside any visible cracks in the floors or walls. Again, dark spots like these make great hiding places for flat bugs.

Don’t feel awkward about getting down on your hands and knees, if necessary, and really looking. You can always use the flashlight app on your phone, too.

What are some key cockroach infestation signs?

In addition to checking popular cockroach hiding places, when you have an infestation, you can look for certain visible clues. Some apartments are more amenable to creating a home for these pesky critters than others, so watch out for these cockroach infestation signs before signing a lease.

1. A lingering odor

Ever walked through an apartment that didn’t smell quite right? That unpleasant odor may be a lingering leftover from unclean tenants, or it could be a sign of a cockroach infestation.

Certain types of roaches emit a strong oily or musty smell, so make sure to sniff around as you tour an odorous apartment. There are also breeds of roach that don’t leave behind a smell, so don’t rely solely on odor to confirm there’s an infestation problem.

2. Cockroach tracks

We’re not talking about tiny footprints here. Cockroach tracks are much more disgusting. That’s because they’re actually droppings. Cockroaches aren’t discreet when they’ve got to go. Feces are usually out there for everyone to see, generally looking like grains of ground pepper or coffee grounds.

The amount of visible feces can often help you gauge the seriousness of an infestation. Look for the signs on countertops, under sinks, inside a pantry or anywhere else that cockroaches may scavenge. If you see any cockroach tracks, that’s immediate evidence of a problem you should definitely ask about.


3. Proof they’re making babies

Roaches do two things all the time — eat and make babies. In addition to finding their tracks, if there’s an infestation, you may also see egg casings. Each egg case contains between 10 and 50 eggs, so the more empty casings you find, the bigger the infestation. You’ll recognize them immediately by their oval shape and brown coloring.

The most common places to find roach egg casings are inside cabinets and behind furniture. If the infestation is particularly bad, you’ll even see them out on countertops.

4. Daylight visits

Although cockroaches are nocturnal, if the infestation is particularly bad, you’ll see them come out during the day. This usually happens when their space gets disturbed, so keep an eye out for any scurrying when you turn a light on in a dark room.

You’ll also see movement if you shine a flashlight into any dark spaces around the apartment, and anything is hiding.

5. The local gossip

Even if the apartment you’re looking at appears clean, don’t assume. Cockroaches are too common to not be thorough in your investigation. If possible, talk to some of the neighbors. Ask if they’ve seen any cockroaches in their own apartments, or have ever dealt with an infestation while living in the building.

Cockroaches don’t confine themselves to one specific area in a building, so if any residents have had a run-in, that apartment may not actually be roach-free.

Avoid the cockroaches as best you can

There’s no way you can be 100 percent certain you won’t encounter a cockroach in your apartment. No matter where you live, they’re too plentiful a species. Your best defense, though, is to start in a home without a cockroach infestation and then take proper precautions to make your apartment unattractive to them.

Keep it clean, put food away, repair water leaks, clean up puddles fast and don’t forget to inspect their favorite hiding places every so often. With a little vigilance, you’ll keep those coaches away.


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