What Do Cockroaches Eat? Keeping Cockroaches Away

Akinwalere Olaleye
Oct 06, 2023 By Akinwalere Olaleye
Originally Published on Oct 12, 2021
Close up of cockroach on a slice of bread.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.6 Min

Cockroaches have long, slender antennae and are brownish, flattened, fast-moving insects.

It has three phases of life which are egg, nymph, and adult. The female cockroach lays little brown bean-shaped egg casings in obscure locations.

Cockroaches, unlike ants, bees, and termites, do not have centralized nests or colonies. Cockroaches are found in over 4,000 different species around the world. In the United States, about 70 of these species can be found. They are one of the most common pests found in apartments and homes. They're particularly troubling in areas where food is prepared and sanitation is poor. Cockroaches come in 69 different species in North America, but only a few of them infest buildings. Knowing which type of cockroach is present will help you determine the best course of action.

German cockroaches are the most common type of cockroach found in homes and buildings. The pest thrives in human environments but does not exist outside. German cockroaches reproduce quickly, which is one of the reasons why they are difficult to control. In less than a year, a single mated female can produce thousands of new cockroaches. German roaches spend the majority of their time hiding in cracks and crevices, but they can move around. They frequently pass through walls, ceilings, pipes, cables, and other holes to migrate between rooms or apartments.

American cockroaches, when fully developed, are the biggest cockroach typically encountered in homes, measuring around 1.5 in (3.8 cm) in length. Cockroaches in the United States produce more eggs than cockroaches in Germany. An American cockroach likes dark, damp environments, such as basements, crawl spaces, and walls. Cockroaches in the United States frequently move great distances from their aggregation locations. Long-term relief and prevention necessitates locating and treating these regions.

Oriental cockroaches are roughly 1 in (2.5 cm) long and are glossy black or dark brown. Males have wings that cover nearly half of the abdomen, while females have extremely small wings. This cockroach prefers chilly, dark, and damp environments like sewers, crawlspaces, cellars, and basements. Because they eat rubbish, human/animal waste, and decaying organic matter, Oriental cockroaches are regarded as particularly dirty.

If you like reading about what do roaches eat, you might be interested in these articles on what do ants eat and what do mosquitoes eat here on Kidadl.

What do cockroaches like to eat?

Cockroaches eat any organic food that comes their way as they are omnivorous scavengers. The best way to keep the cockroach away is by keeping the environment clean.

Cockroaches like sweets, cookies, meats, and carbohydrates, although they have been known to eat hair, books, and rotting materials as well. The cockroach body has evolved over millions of years to be able to live in a variety of environments and roaches eat on whatever is available. Roaches eat human food items such as cookies and bread crumbs. Roaches even eat soap, bread crumbs, bugs, dead insects, plastic, paper, decaying poop, human and pet hair that are not food items eaten by humans. They might also feast on decaying plant matter and dead wood.

They are opportunistic feeders, meaning cockroaches eat nearly whatever they come across. Cockroaches eat anything from human food to pet food, as well as waste items, dead plants, and animals, all of which are readily available in your home. Insects like bed bugs and their eggs have been reported to be eaten by common house cockroaches. Bed bugs are high on the cockroach menu since cockroaches will eat almost everything and can run so quickly.

Roaches search for food sources and mate at night, which is when they are most active. A roach is usually seen in a search of food sources at night, so when it is seen during the day it may indicate a cockroach infestation. Except in severe situations of cockroach infestations, cockroaches are unlikely to bite living humans.

Roaches eat both plants and animals, making them omnivores. Roaches like to eat carbohydrates, sweets, cookies, greasy foods, fatty meals, and meats in particular, but they are not discriminatory eaters. Roaches are very fond to feed on food sources that we humans enjoy. Cockroaches will eat practically everything that comes from a live organism, including plants and animals.

Cockroaches are also adept scavengers, so they have little trouble obtaining food. Garbage and rubbish, including human waste, as well as a few objects in your home, such as plants, soap, paper, and cosmetics will serve as gourmet roach meals.

American cockroaches consume leaves, small wood particles, fungus, and algae, whereas German cockroaches consume just about anything and garbage is a main source of food. When given the option, they will choose sweets, fats, carbohydrates, and meat.

What do Madagascar hissing cockroaches eat?

Madagascar hissing cockroaches are scavengers that mostly eat vegetables. They spend their time searching the forest floor seeking fallen foliage and fruit.

They consume a range of fruits and vegetables in captivity. With a reptile, vegetable, and fruit munchies mix, you can easily prepare a diverse meal for your reptile. Madagascar hissing cockroaches are not fussy eaters as detritivores and they may eat a broad variety of foods, including bananas, whole lettuce, and leaves of the oak. Choose organic wherever feasible when buying fresh fruit to feed your hissing cockroaches to prevent pesticide residues.

Don't let them go hungry or they'll start eating each other! Fortunately, they eat less than other cockroaches of comparable size. Keep in mind that females require a lot of protein to reproduce successfully. For this reason, protein-rich foods such as cereals, dog kibble, rat chow, and fish flakes might be beneficial additions to the diet.

Plant-based gut loads are ideal for Madagascar hissing cockroaches. This is consistent with the bulk of a hissing cockroach's natural diet which is high in vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids and low in protein. Carotenoids are a plus because, in addition to functioning as antioxidants, they also assist your pet's natural color to shine!

Big Brown Cockroach eating crumbs with vignette.

Do cockroaches eat each other?

Cockroaches do eat each other, but not as a matter of course. Roaches do not like to eat their own kind. However as roaches are scavenger insects rather than hunters, this is can sometimes be the case.

Cockroaches are omnivores, and they will devour each other when they are susceptible, especially when they are crowded. This has an impact on cockroach breeders who raise them as feeder stock for lizards and amphibians that eat cockroaches. Hungry cockroaches attack molting individuals, so a crowded culture of immature cockroaches will grow slowly. A cockroach ready to molt will seek out a small territory and aggressively chase others out of it in a less congested environment. When they are no longer hungry, they will molt and the breeder will gather and keep them until they were all done molting.

Cockroaches eat almost whatever they see, although they may go for extended periods of time without eating food and water. A cockroach can go nearly a month without eating. Without water, a cockroach can survive for roughly two weeks.

American cockroaches, often known as giant roaches, can endure two to three months without eating but only a month without drinking. German cockroaches, which are one of the most prevalent kinds seen in homes throughout the world, can only survive for 12 days without water but 42 days without eating food.

Cockroaches have been known to survive for a long period without eating, but they spend the majority of their time eating or seeking food sources and food dictates most of their activity. They may survive for days to weeks without water. Some cockroaches may survive for months without food if they are provided water. They will, however, expire more quickly if fed dry food but no water.

Do cockroaches eat paper?

Cockroaches will quickly eat food wrapped in paper, cardboard, or thin plastic containers. As a result, before being stored in the home, they should be moved into cockroach-proof containers. There should be no open food left out overnight. Roaches are drawn to stacks of periodicals, books, and paper. The glue and other organic elements present in these objects will be eaten by them.

Cockroaches are notorious for destroying books. Cardboard, paper, cloth, glue, leather, and mold are all eaten by them. Cockroach larvae will deposit shells of eggs between the pages of your books, staining them.

Roaches have the potential to contaminate food, kitchen utensils, and other household items, as well as emit an unpleasant odor. They also have the ability to transmit almost 33 distinct types of bacteria. Allergens generated by cockroaches can induce congestion, sneezing, and watery eyes, as well as life-threatening bronchial inflammation (asthma), which is marked by persistent coughing, wheezing, and trouble breathing. A cockroach may infect human beings with a variety of germs and disease-causing organisms. Most people find cockroaches repulsive and embarrassing just by seeing them.

Since cockroaches eat excrement in a sewer just as easily as food, they may easily spread harmful germs to our food and cooking surfaces by just strolling over them, resulting in food poisoning, diarrhea, dysentery, and other diseases. Moreover, some cockroach species produce an odorous pheromone that attracts mates and warns other roaches to a desirable nesting and feeding location. These smelly secretions may be recognized by humans and create a bad taste in the food we eat when roach populations are high.

Like the house fly, cockroaches eat almost everything, from paper to pet food and even food spills on the kitchen floor to feces. Ingested bacteria can live for months or even years in the cockroach's digestive tract before being passed on in its droppings. They vomit and defecate on food, and illness is believed to be passed to humans when they consume cockroach-contaminated food.

A competent and licensed pest control operator can identify the kind, source, and degree of the cockroach infestation and control the cockroaches with registered chemicals for pest control. It is important to employ a pest control of some type to remove the infestation. With baits, natural methods to kill pests and patience, you can do it on your own. Boric acid and food-grade diatomaceous earth are two cockroach-killing pest control that may be used at home.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly factsfor everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for what do cockroaches eatthen why not take a look at what do crested geckos eat or cockroach facts.

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Written by Akinwalere Olaleye

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

Akinwalere Olaleye picture

Akinwalere OlaleyeBachelor of Arts specializing in English Literature

As a highly motivated, detail-oriented, and energetic individual, Olaleye's expertise lies in administrative and management operations. With extensive knowledge as an Editor and Communications Analyst, Olaleye excels in editing, writing, and media relations. Her commitment to upholding professional ethics and driving organizational growth sets her apart. She has a bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Benin, Edo State. 

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