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How Many Cockroaches Is Too Many?

For many people, the sight of even a single cockroach is enough to send a shiver up their spines. 

But how many cockroaches is truly too many?

Seeing one or two roaches every now and then is usually just nothing more than a random visit to your home. However, seeing one or two every day is a sign that an infestation has begun. The more frequent the sightings, the larger your infestation is. When roaches are spotted as frequently as one or two per day, it has now gotten to the point of “too many roaches.”

Cockroach Sightings And Infestation

Photo of cockroaches on a wood.

While we may hate to think about it, cockroaches do enter our homes regularly in search of food, water, and shelter. 

It’s not uncommon (or necessarily a bad thing) if you spot a roach every now and then inside your home. 

There are plenty of ways roaches can get inside, from squeezing through gaps around your doors to crawling up drain pipes, and everything in between. 

Spotting a roach every now and then might be gross, but isn’t necessarily cause for concern. 

More consistently frequent sightings are when you should become worried, even if you only spot a single roach at a time. 

For some people, seeing just one roach may be “too many”, sending them to the store to buy traps and poison, or running to the phone to call an exterminator. 

It’s also important to remember that most roaches tend to only come out at night. 

Seeing a roach scurry around inside your home at night can be disconcerting, and may even mean you have a small infestation. But if you’re spotting roaches in your home during the day, this can be an indicator that a much larger infestation is in your home.

If you’re finding multiple roaches in the same areas of your home consistently, start by cleaning those spots and see if the problem resolves itself. If they still return, it’s time to get to work. 

While you can try to get rid of roaches on your own, either by using chemical or natural remedies, calling a professional exterminator is the best option in order to permanently rid yourself of an infestation. 

Not only will a trained professional be able to determine the estimated size of your infestation, but they’ll also be more adept at helping you eradicate the problem and keeping any roaches from coming back. 

Infestation Sizes

It’s nearly impossible to accurately account for every cockroach in your home, as counting each individual roach is an insurmountable task. 

Cockroaches are just too good at hiding, and might be holed up in places you can’t even see.

Generally, exterminators are able to make an educated guess about the number of cockroaches in your home based on how often they appear, and they can determine the size of the infestation based on the number of roaches you see. 

Five or fewer roaches is considered a light infestation.

Ten to 25 roaches is a moderate infestation. 

Anything over 25 is considered a heavy infestation. 

It’s also important to remember that the roaches you do see aren’t necessarily the only ones you have to contend with. 

At any given time, there could be as many as fifty additional cockroaches in your home you didn’t know were there because they’re hidden out of view. 

It’s important to get on top of any infestation early, because cockroaches are aggressive breeders. Five roaches can turn into 100 in just a matter of two weeks, assuming there is enough food and water to keep them nourished. 

If You Just See One, How Many Roaches Do You Really Have?

Cockroaches are almost never alone, so seeing a single roach will usually mean there are more nearby. 

While old wisdom might say that for every roach you see, there are ten more hidden in the walls, that number could actually be even higher. 

Experiments conducted by the IAMAL laboratory (The Agriculture Department’s Insects Affecting Man and Animals Laboratory) found that for every roach that wandered into a trap, there were 800 additional roaches in their simulated kitchen. 

While they released thousands of roaches at a time for their experiment, and there’s no way to tell the exact numbers of roaches in your home, these numbers are still alarming. 

If you see one roach in your home, you should assume there are quite a few more around. 

How Do I Know If I Have A Cockroach Infestation?

If cockroaches are found anywhere inside your home, you can usually consider it an infestation. It’s pretty easy to determine if you have an infestation, you just need to look for the signs. 

Seeing live roaches is the number one way to tell that you have an infestation. Spotting even one to five at a time can mean you have a light infestation. 

Finding any roach droppings, egg cases, or smelling a bad, musky smell are also indicators that cockroaches are around. The more you see or smell, the higher the number of cockroaches are likely to be infesting the area. 

These indicators are usually found in dark, wet locations, or around areas where food is stored. 

Kitchens, basements, bathrooms, and laundry rooms are all prime areas where roaches may hang out. 

As we discussed above regarding how many roaches are too many, remember that seeing only one or two every now and then may not be cause for concern. However, seeing even one roach frequently in the same general area can be an indicator that they’ve moved in permanently. 

Does Killing One Cockroach Attract More?

Close-up photo of a dead cockroach on the floor.

It’s been a longstanding urban myth that killing cockroaches attracts more roaches. Maybe it’s karma, and maybe these disgusting little creatures are seeking revenge. 

The fact is that there is a little bit of truth to this myth. 

When a cockroach dies (especially if it’s crushed), it lets out a very pungent scent that can be smelled from quite a long distance. 

The smell can attract other roaches who come to investigate, looking for an easy cannibalistic meal.

If you don’t clean the area where the roach was squished, the scent can linger for a longer amount of time. 

While killing one roach does attract others to the scene of the murder, killing a cockroach doesn’t necessarily cause more cockroaches to enter your home. 

The more likely scenario is that the roaches who are attracted to the spot of the killing were already there. You probably killed the first cockroach in a high-traffic area where the roaches were already traveling. 

It’s also possible the scent lured some out of hiding, making it seem like more roaches suddenly entered your home. 


Seeing a cockroach every now and then is fairly normal, and may not be cause for alarm. However, if you’re seeing even one cockroach on a more regular basis, this is considered too many, and is an indicator that an infestation is probably occurring in your home. 

There are home remedies you can use to kill or repel cockroaches, but large infestations require the help of a professional exterminator.