Updated On

July 10, 2024

Why You Can Trust Us

Today’s Homeowner exists to help you maintain or improve your home safely and effectively. We uphold strict editorial standards and carefully vet the advice and resources referenced in our articles. Click below to learn more about our review process and how we earn money.

Learn More

    Though there are many myths about white cockroaches on the internet, finding a white or albino cockroach is very common. A white cockroach is simply a cockroach that has just molted out of its old exoskeleton or hatched out of the egg.

    In this post, we discuss why cockroaches turn white if a white cockroach signals an infestation and, most importantly, what to do if you find a white cockroach.

    Additionally, if you need help eradicating your cockroach infestation, we recommend getting a quote from one of the following exterminators:

    • Molting is a process common to all arthropods (insects and crustaceans).
    • The general rule of thumb with cockroaches is that if you find one cockroach, there are likely more hiding out-of-sight.
    • If you find any cockroaches in your home – white, yellow, brown, or black – you should immediately look for more.

    What Is Molting?

    Molting is a process common to all arthropods (insects and crustaceans). These organisms create an exoskeleton instead of an endoskeleton like humans and other vertebrates.

    The exoskeleton is an extremely rigid structure made from the molecule chitin. Chitin is soft and white when it first forms, but as it is exposed to the air, it dries out and becomes more rigid. It also changes color during this process – so a white cockroach will only be white for a short time.

    As the insect grows, it will start to fill up the excess space within its exoskeleton again. Once it can no longer grow inside of its exoskeleton, the insect must burst out of the old exoskeleton.

    Cockroaches, like other insects, molt many times as they grow into adults. Each time the cockroach emerges from the old exoskeleton it will be a bright white color – since the soft chitin takes time to fully harden and gain its coloration back.

    Some websites call these cockroaches “albino” – though this couldn’t be further from the truth.

    The term albino applies to animals that have a genetic abnormality and cannot produce pigment molecules in their skin or exoskeleton. Albino roaches do not have any genetic defects, and all cockroaches will become white at many times during their lives as they molt into consecutively larger stages. 

    Does a White Cockroach Signal an Infestation?

    The general rule of thumb with cockroaches is that if you find one cockroach, there is likely more hiding out of sight. If you find a white cockroach, this not only signifies that there may be more cockroaches you are not seeing – it also means that the cockroach has found a place it felt comfortable molting in.

    Cockroaches will not start the molting process in broad daylight since they are much more vulnerable to predators when their exoskeleton is not yet hardened. Therefore, they usually find a harborage (an area where cockroaches gather) before the molting process starts. There is a chance that the cockroach was just passing through and found a warm, dark place to carry out the molting process. 

    Today’s Homeowner Tips

    But, more often than not, if you find a molting cockroach it likely means that you may have a cockroach infestation on your hands!

    Read more: Are Cockroaches Dangerous?

    Are all Cockroaches White When They Molt?

    Most cockroach species are either completely white or slightly yellow when they molt. As stated, the color of the cockroach will slowly change from nearly pure white to whatever the normal color for that species is within a few hours. So, if you find a darker yellow cockroach, it likely molted a few hours earlier and is simply halfway through the process of hardening its exoskeleton. 

    Each species of cockroach has a different coloration when they are finished molting. By and large, all species of cockroaches are almost pure white when they first emerge from their old exoskeleton.

    However, some species are a very light brown color as adults, whereas others are almost pure black. These differences can result in different shades of white, yellow, and brown as the exoskeleton of a molted cockroach slowly hardens into place. 

    What Should I Do if I Find a White Cockroach?

    If you find any cockroaches in your home – white, yellow, brown, or black – you should immediately look for more. Make a note of where you found the first cockroach and search the immediate area.

    Today’s Homeowner Tips

    Most cockroach species do not travel far from their harborage, and you can often find this hiding place if you look for gaps or cracks in the walls, floors, or ceilings that lead to warm, humid voids within your house. Kitchen cabinets are one common place to find cockroaches.

    If you don’t find any others near the site of the first cockroach, you should conduct a full inspection of your house. Look in crawl spaces, around your sinks and toilets, and inspect any holes that lead into your walls. These are prime harborage locations.

    Plus, you should consider hiring a professional to do a more thorough inspection. A professional exterminator will have a variety of tools – like inspection cameras, that can access hard-to-reach areas. These tools are often necessary to find infestations since cockroaches often form harborages in the nooks and crannies of your home that cannot be inspected visually. 

    Act Fast If You See a Cockroach

    Remember, if you find one cockroach (of any color), it is likely that there are many more roaches hiding somewhere. Cockroaches usually like to be around other cockroaches.

    Even a single cockroach can signal to others that there is food and shelter in an area and will quickly attract more roaches and start laying eggs. Taking action quickly is the only way to stop an infestation from spiraling out of control!

    How to Get Rid of Cockroaches

    Getting rid of cockroaches, whether white or brown, involves a multi-pronged approach. Start by thoroughly cleaning your home while paying special attention to the kitchen, basement, and bathroom.

    Seal up any cracks or crevices where roaches could enter. Set out roach bait stations or gel bait in areas where you’ve seen roach activity. For severe infestations, I suggest hiring a professional pest control service to treat your home with stronger insecticides.

    How to Prevent Cockroaches From Coming Back

    To prevent cockroaches from returning, keep your living space clean and free of food debris, seal all food in airtight containers, and fix any leaky pipes or faucets as roaches are attracted to moisture.

    Regularly take out the trash and keep your garbage bins sealed. Seal potential entry points like gaps around doors and windows, and continue to monitor for signs of new roach activity.

    Get Free Pest Control Estimates
    Connect with local pest control professionals near you.

    Final Thoughts

    White cockroaches may be unusual in appearance, but they are essentially the same as the common brown cockroaches in terms of behavior and the issues they cause (they’re just ones that were molted recently). You can remove cockroaches from your home with a combination of sanitation, exclusion, and targeted treatments.

    That said, for larger and more persistent cockroach infestations, consider hiring an exterminator or pest control company to remove them.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Are white cockroaches dangerous?

    White cockroaches aren’t any more dangerous than regular cockroaches, but they can still spread diseases and trigger allergies.

    What causes a cockroach to be white?

    Most cockroaches are white after they’ve molted (shed their exoskeleton). They eventually return to a brown color.

    Do white cockroaches fly?

    Some species of white cockroaches, like the American cockroach, can fly short distances.

    Editorial Contributors
    avatar for Gabe Buckley

    Gabe Buckley

    Gabe Buckley is a professional science writer with a Bachelor's of Science in Zoology and a Master's of Professional Natural Sciences from Colorado State University.

    Learn More

    photo of Jonathon Jachura

    Jonathon Jachura


    Jonathon Jachura is a two-time homeowner with hands-on experience with HVAC, gutters, plumbing, lawn care, pest control, and other aspects of owning a home. He is passionate about home maintenance and finding the best services. His main goal is to educate others with crisp, concise descriptions that any homeowner can use. Jon uses his strong technical background to create engaging, easy-to-read, and informative guides. He does most of his home and lawn projects himself but hires professional companies for the “big things.” He knows what goes into finding the best service providers and contractors. Jon studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University in Indiana and worked in the HVAC industry for 12 years. Between his various home improvement projects, he enjoys the outdoors, a good cup of coffee, and spending time with his family.

    Learn More