Does Killing Cockroaches Attract More? What Happens If Leaving Dead Roach?

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Pest Control | December 19, 2023

Man about to stomp on a roach wonders, does killing cockroaches attract more, what happens if you leave a dead cockroach, do cockroaches play dead, and why does killing a cockroach attract more dead roaches in house?

If you find a dead cockroach in your house, a bunch of questions might spring to mind like, does killing cockroaches attract more, and what attracts roaches?

Cockroaches are disgusting but also extremely clever creatures, so knowing how to get rid of cockroaches can be a real help if you’ve seen one in your home.

They can play dead and even after death can attract more cockroaches to the area.

This article explores what killing a cockroach or seeing a dead cockroach in your home could mean.4 It also addresses common questions, like does killing cockroaches attract more and what happens if you leave a dead cockroach.

What Happens if You Leave a Dead Cockroach? (Does Killing Cockroaches Attract More of Them?)

If you’re wondering what happens if you leave a dead cockroach, a few things can happen. Number one, it releases oleic acid, which attracts other roaches to eat it.

Second, it can attract other small predatory animals. Maybe you noticed that a cockroach you left dead disappeared.

There can be a few reasons for this. The most likely scenario is that something ate it.

This can include other insects, rodents, house pets, etc. Next could be that they were playing dead.

Graphic with text and image that shows what happens if you leave a dead cockroach.

Cockroaches are known to play dead, and if they play dead due to a threat and the threat disappears, they can snap back to life. Since cockroaches are also nocturnal, chances are they will restore themselves once the lights go out.

Why Does Killing a Cockroach Attract More?

So, why does killing cockroaches attract more of these insects?6 The reason is because of oleic acid.

Oleic acid is an extremely common and natural fatty acid. It is largely odorless to humans in its oil form.

However, when released from cockroaches it can have a musty smell. It is considered in fact to be the most common fatty acid in nature.

It is present in our food and is often used in artificial products such as soaps. When a cockroach dies and releases this chemical it attracts other roaches.

The roaches are very sensitive to it and can detect it from a great distance away. Scientists think that this mechanism was developed so that roaches could eat other dead roaches.

This is why it’s advisable to simply wipe down the surface where you found the cockroach with a light vinegar solution. This will erase any residual acid which could attract more roaches.3

Dead Cockroach (Dead Roaches in House)

There are various reasons why you might find a dead cockroach in your home. One could simply be from their natural life and death cycle.

Cockroaches die eventually and sometimes that happens to be in a visible area. So there is not necessarily a reason for their death that would demand your consideration.

Another reason why you might see one is the death of a colony. Sometimes colonies run out of food or water and this leads to premature death.

Another reason could be poisoning. This is often the most common reason.

Since roaches are wide roaming, and many people despise them, it is common that someone else is poisoning them and you run into the dead specimens. Maybe your neighbor or someone in your building has been using boric acid or baking soda to kill them for example.

With these substances, death is not instant. Cockroaches may cover some distance and die further away.

Another reason is potential predators that may be around you. Roaches are food for a large amount of small animals, including mammals, lizards, and other insects.

One way to investigate is to look at the body of the roach. Is it missing parts?

Of course one of the most enthusiastic roach hunters is the house cat. So if you have one around it should be your number one suspect for killing roaches.

Finding one dead cockroach does not necessarily mean you have a cockroach problem or infestation. The animals can be by themselves and cover a great amount of distance, so it could very well be an isolated incident.

Especially in some urban areas, they are practically expected to be seen a couple of times a year. If you have never seen one before, it may be cause to start checking around the house, behind appliances, and around drains.

If you find multiple dead roaches within a short time span it could be time to set traps or call a professional who specializes in eco-friendly pest control. 1

Does Killing Cockroaches Attract More? What To Do if You See a Dead Cockroach

Usually, people are advised not to touch cockroaches directly to prevent the spread of bacteria onto them. This can be done using gloves, paper towels, sanitary wipes, or of course a broom and dustpan.

Vacuums are not recommended for this purpose because you will simply have to empty it immediately to prevent the insect from decomposing in the machine.

After removing the roach it is recommended to wipe down the surface where it was found and perhaps the immediate area with a light vinegar and water mixture put on a paper towel, or with an eco-friendly sanitary wipe.

Disposing of a Dead Cockroach

Since dead cockroaches can attract more, it’s not a good idea to simply throw the dead roach in your yard or house trash. You can place it in a sealed bag which goes in the outside trash.

If you have a compost, this is another great idea, incorporating the roach into compost will mask its decomposition and add to your mixture. Of course, if you have chickens, this is the ideal disposal solution.

One more way is to burn the insect in a fire pit of some sort, this is probably the most elaborate way of home-disposal. Flushing is not a good idea.

If the roach is not completely dead it can live inside the pipes.

Why Do Cockroaches Die on Their Back?

Cockroaches do not always die on their backs.5 In nature, probably the most common cause of death for cockroaches is being eaten.

However, they can turn to their backs due to muscle spasms when they die. Roaches have extremely heavy backs and long thin legs.

Gravity wants them to lie on their backs. So when they die and their legs spasm and curl under them, they will roll to their back and stay there.

This happens especially if they are poisoned. Many poisons affect enzymes in the cockroach which can cause muscle spasms that allow them to roll on their back.2

Do Cockroaches Play Dead?

If you’re wondering do cockroaches play dead? Yes, cockroaches play dead.

Often they will play dead on their back. They can even hold their breath for up to 40 minutes.

Playing dead is an evolutionary adaptation to a threat. This means that when the cockroach is playing dead it is largely paralyzed.

They can play dead in this state for nearly a week, assuming they are healthy. Often cockroaches will play dead in response to light or sound.

Cockroaches can play dead as a response to a predator. However, they can also play dead due to cold.

Roaches are cold-blooded. This means they cannot regulate their body temperature, and can only endure around 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the winter they go into a hibernation mode called diapause. This heat-seeking tendency is a big reason why roaches end up in homes during the winter.

How To Keep Roaches Away

The best way on how to keep cockroaches away is simply to keep your home clean. Cockroaches are attracted to food, and most often will enter homes following a scent.

If you clean and take out the garbage regularly it’s unlikely your home will become a haven for roaches.

If you’re wondering how to get rid of roaches coming from neighbors, you can use lemon juice at entrances, make sure no high foliage around the house reaches windows or the roof, or in extreme cases, contact your local homeowners association to report a local cockroach infestation.

How To Kill Roaches

How to kill roaches is actually usually straightforward. They are small insects, and although they have a reputation for being persistent, they are no match for human ingenuity.

The key is killing them in a way that is as convenient to you as possible and doesn’t expose you or a family member to unnecessary health risks. One of the easiest ways is to simply stomp them if you find them.

This will kill them and destroy any cockroach eggs they may be carrying. It’s recommended to clean the surface afterward with lemon juice and vinegar.

However some people would prefer to use insecticide, and for that, there are some natural solutions.1

Best Ways To Kill Roaches

You might be asking yourself, does bleach kill roaches? Does killing a cockroach attract more?

Graphic with text and images that shows the best ways to kill roaches such as stomping on them, insecticide, baking soda, diatomaceous earth, and exterminator.

What do I have around that could kill them? There are a lot of things that can kill roaches.

One of the best ways to kill cockroaches in your home naturally is to use simple baking soda. Many people have this simply lying around in their house, and it is one of the most effective cockroach killers you can find.

When roaches eat baking soda it will destroy them from the inside out. You can simply leave out a plate of bait-like onions sprinkled with baking soda and watch it work its magic.

Another fantastic natural roach killer is diatomaceous earth. This substance is called DE for short and is a famous natural insecticide.

It is made of pulverized and fossilized algae. Its particles act to kill insects by being both water-loving and sharp.

This means it can dehydrate insects to death and cut them open by damaging the exoskeleton. You can order or buy food-grade DE and sprinkle it again on food bait or simply where you have noticed roach activity.

These two methods may require a couple of rounds of application to rid your home of roaches. You may be wondering when to call an exterminator for roaches.

The answer is when you have tried natural methods for a while and they are not working. The problem with exterminators is that they are usually expensive, and most use non-organic methods that will fill your house with toxic chemicals.

So they should be used as a last resort.2

Cockroach Exterminator

How much does an exterminator cost for roaches is a natural question. Exterminator prices can vary based on a number of factors if you find roaches in any sort of rental property, such as roaches in Airbnb.7

The best course of action is to contact the owner first. There are always a ton of questions that arise when you see a cockroach in your house.

Close up image of a dead cockroach lying on its back.

(Image: Picas Joe8)

What attracts roaches? What do cockroaches hate? What attracts roaches? What do roaches smell like?

The simple approach is to keep a clean and well-sanitized home. It is recommended to take out garbage promptly and clean surfaces with vinegar and or lemon juice.

The second thing is that, if you find dead roaches in the house or kill one, clean that area, dispose of the cockroach outside, and conduct a brief search to make sure there is no kind of infestation.

This will solve questions like, “Does killing cockroaches attract more?”

Frequently Asked Questions About Does Killing Cockroaches Attract More

Does Killing A Cockroach Attract More?

Simply put, killing a cockroach can attract more, because cockroaches release oleic acid when they die. This is a signal to other cockroaches to come eat the dead.

Do Cockroaches Play Dead?

Yes, cockroaches can play dead. They can turn up on their backs and simulate death as a response to a perceived predator or to extreme cold.

What Do I Do if I Found a Dead Cockroach?

If you find a cockroach that seems to be dead, the best thing to do is to stomp it immediately in case it’s just playing dead. Next clean the area with vinegar to remove any residue and then conduct a brief search of the area to make sure there are no others nearby.

Read More About Does Killing Cockroaches Attract More


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3McCall Service. (2022, September 15). 5 Things That Attract Cockroaches. McCall Service. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from <>

4National Center for Environmental Health (U.S.). (2006). Healthy housing reference manual. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from <>

5Hahn, J., & Ascerno, M. (2019). Cockroaches. University of Minnesota Extension. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from <>

6National Pesticide Information Center. (2023). Cockroaches. National Pesticide Information Center. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from <>

7Potter, M. F. (2018, June). Cockroach Elimination in Homes and Apartments. University of Kentucky Department of Entomology. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from <>

8Picas Joe. Pexels. From <>