Cockroaches molt or shed their exoskeleton during the course of their life cycle. The process of molting is essential for cockroaches to grow, as the old and rigid exoskeleton does not allow them to expand in size. During this process, the cockroach produces a new cuticle or outer layer, which allows the insect to increase in size. This process is repeated as the cockroach develops and matures.
Cockroaches molt in stages, which are usually referred to as instars. The number of instars varies depending on the species of cockroach. Some species will have as few as four or five while others could have up to 13. Each instar lets them grow larger until the adult stage is reached.
During each molt, the cockroach will first separate the head capsule from their body. The old exoskeleton will then split along the back and down the sides of their thorax. The cockroach will then crawl out of their exoskeleton, leaving behind a thin, almost see-through cuticle. This cuticle will slowly harden and darken until it becomes a tough outer layer.
The next stage of the molting process involves the cockroach becoming larger. Its body segments will swell and its antennae and legs will become longer. The cockroach then sheds their new cuticle and begins to form a new one, which is typically darker than the previous instar’s cuticle. This process is repeated until they reach adult size.
Symptoms of Cockroaches Molt
During the molting process, cockroaches can become sluggish and unresponsive. They might also appear to be pale or white. These symptoms are normal and will subside once the new cuticle has hardened. It’s not uncommon for cockroaches to lose a few legs during the molting process. This is due to the old exoskeleton splitting before the body has had time to fully grow into it.
Diagnosing Cockroaches Molt
Diagnosing a cockroach that is in the process of molting is relatively easy. An inspection of the exoskeleton will usually reveal signs of splitting, particularly along the back and sides of their thorax. The presence of a thin, almost transparent cuticle is also indicative of molting. In some cases, it will be necessary to examine the new cuticle for coloration or size differences compared to the previous instar in order to confirm molting.
Stages of Cockroaches Molt
The stages of cockroaches molt can be broken down into four distinct phases.
The first phase is known as the Proecdysis, which is when the old exoskeleton begins to separate from their body and split along the back and sides of their thorax.
The second phase is Ecdysis, which is when the old exoskeleton splits completely and the cockroach crawls out of it.
The third phase is known as Apolysis, which is when the new cuticle begins to form and harden.
Finally, the fourth phase is known as Expansion, which is when the cockroach’s body segments swell and their antennae and legs become longer. This process is repeated until they reach adult size.
Treating Cockroaches Molt
The best way to treat cockroaches that are molting is to give them a safe and comfortable environment. Cockroaches prefer dark, humid places, and giving them this environment can help reduce the stress that they might have during this process. It’s also important to ensure that the cockroach has access to food and water in order to properly complete the molting process.
Preventing Cockroaches Molt
Given that molting is a normal part of a cockroach’s life, it’s impossible to prevent. You want this to happen, and without incident so that your pet can continue growing and living. If they have a mismolt, then you’ll have problems, and need immediate veterinary attention.