What Do Cockroaches Eat?

Cockroaches are extremely common household pests that can survive in a wide range of environments and climates. But these hearty insects can also be dangerous to humans. Cockroaches are known for being harmful pests that can carry disease-causing bacteria and viruses, contaminate food sources, and may even trigger asthma attacks, according to the National Center for Healthy Housing.

Their ability to withstand harsh conditions makes cockroaches notoriously difficult to get rid of once they’ve infested a home or business, which is why it’s important to know what attracts cockroaches in the first place. In this article, you’ll learn about cockroach feeding behaviors, the food items they’re attracted to, and how to prevent a cockroach infestation.

Cockroach Feeding Behavior Overview 

Being nocturnal animals, many cockroaches scavenge for food and feed at night, but their feeding patterns may vary based on their species. Here are the most common cockroach species we encounter in the United States:

American Cockroaches: These reddish-brown, oval insects have a yellow-tinged figure 8 pattern on the back of their head. They are one of the larger species of cockroaches, growing up to 1.6 inches in length. American cockroaches are particularly drawn to fermenting foods, which is why they commonly infest pantries, kitchens, basements, alleys, and sewers.

German Cockroaches: German cockroaches have smaller bodies, and range from light brown to brown-black in color with parallel streaks on their backs. They tend to live in humid, warm environments near food and water sources, and often like to infest homes, commercial kitchens, restaurants, food processing plants, and hotels.

Oriental Cockroaches: Oriental cockroaches are shiny black, oval insects that need a reliable water source. While they can go a month without food, they can survive only two weeks without water, which is why they are commonly found in sewers and storm drains. Oriental cockroaches are attracted to decaying organic matter and starchy foods, such as leftover bread.

What Do Cockroaches Eat? Here Are Their Favorite Foods

Cockroaches are generally not very picky eaters. While they will eat a plethora of human food, cockroach diets are incredibly diverse. As omnivores, they will happily eat a wide variety of protein sources, plants, insects, decaying organic waste, and even materials – like cardboard – that we deem inedible. Here are some of cockroaches’ favorite foods:

  • Other small insects, including dead insects
  • Pet Food
  • Cardboard
  • Books, paper, and glue
  • Starchy foods
  • Sugary foods
  • Decaying organic matter, including feces, skin flakes, hair, and droppings

How To Prevent Cockroaches

Many environmental factors attract roaches and cause cockroach infestations. Food and moisture are two of the main ones.

A good way to prevent a cockroach infestation is to get rid of the food sources they’re attracted to. Since cockroach diets can be comprised of a vast range of materials, it’s important to stay diligent with cleaning to reduce attractants. Make sure to clean dirty dishes, sanitize countertops and food preparation areas, and regularly take out the trash. Spill sweet fruit juice or soda? Wipe it up so cockroaches aren’t attracted to the sugary smell. And always store your food in air-tight containers that will keep these scavenging insects out of your food supply.

As for moisture, cockroaches are drawn to standing water and even leaks coming from faucets, drains, and sinks. Certain species of cockroaches also favor damp environments with high humidity levels.

How to Get Rid of Cockroaches

Cockroaches are notoriously difficult to get rid of, which is why we don’t advise using DIY methods to get rid of a cockroach infestation. Professional pest control is the best way to address the source of an infestation and get rid of cockroaches for good.

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