It’s true roaches are of various species. There are in fact about 4500 estimated roach species in the world – 69 of which are found in American households. They come in slightly different colors, sizes, and shapes.
The American cockroach is reddish brown with a yellowish figure 8 pattern on the back of its head; the German roach is light brown to tan with a pair of stripes on its back; the Oriental cockroach is very dark and shiny. If you’ve ever come across a white roach, you naturally may assume it to be a roach species. First, let’s clear a myth about white roaches.
The albinism myth
White roaches are otherwise called albino roaches because they obviously do not have any color. But is that reflective of reality? Albinism is a dermatological condition in which the body is unable to produce melanin – the pigment that colors the skin. Are white roaches then deficient in melanin? Not at all. Albinism is a condition not known to apply to insects. And unlike in the case of cockroaches, albinism is a permanent condition.
Before a cockroach maturates to adulthood, it passes through the nymphal stage. At this stage, it looks like an adult roach though yet to possess organs like wings. Per time, the nymph sheds its outer skeleton through a process known as molting. But before it sheds the outer skin, it grows another one inside. The reason for molting is to enable the roach to expand in size because it cannot grow with the outer skeleton in place.
Once molting is done, the new skin is soft and white and the molted nymph hides somewhere inconspicuous. This whiteness only occurs for a few hours after molting as the nymph hides waiting for the new skeleton to dry and thicken. It’s very important the nymph stays out of sight because the molting process, if interrupted, can change the roach’s circadian rhythm. More so, it even predisposes the roach more to predatory. It goes without saying that it’s difficult to determine which species a white cockroach is until after the new exoskeleton hardens.
Why they are rarely seen
Cockroaches are not often seen in the day because they aren’t diurnal. When they molt, they are not even seen at all except maybe when there is an extreme infestation and one is trying to exterminate them from their hideouts. When molting begins, the nymph more or less is unprotected until the new outer skeleton thickens which could take several hours.
Cockroaches are arthropods. Arthropods are invertebrates because there do not have spines. This is why their wings and legs are attached to an outer skeleton. It is this exoskeleton that provides the frame for the body. So when a roach molts, it feels so exposed. It isn’t strong enough to run around in case there is a threat neither is it strong enough to forage for food. This is why white roaches are not seen every other day.
White roaches will not bite you. They are hardly ever seen anyway. But their presence should be of concern to you. Seeing them around means you have a serious problem of infestation in your house. It means your roaches are breeding and growing. And you know that cockroaches reproduce at a very high rate. It’s strongly advised you exterminate them. You are likely to find them in your basement, around drains, cabinets, sheds, and places where there is soil.
To prevent them:
- Tidy up your environment especially wet and dingy places in your house.
- Ensure you always properly dispose of your food waste.
- Store your food items properly beyond their reach.