Cockroaches are known to live a long time without any kind of food, but they still spend most of their time hunting for food sources.
In fact, these nuisance insect invaders frequently show up in homes and offices all over the place, in search of the easy food sources they can find indoors.
Understanding what and how they eat can help you better control and get rid of cockroaches at home.
What Attracts Cockroaches in Your Home?
Among the most common cockroach species we encounter in the United States and Canada, we find that cockroaches are mainly indoor critters (e.g., German roaches and Brown-banded roaches). Other common cockroach species (i.e., American roaches and Oriental roaches) can and do survive primarily outdoors, but will head indoors if temperatures start dropping. So shelter is one main draw for roaches who head indoors.
Cockroaches are obviously attracted by food, but they also need water/moisture to survive. Leaky pipes and faucets, and damp basements are huge attractions for these pests.
So, What Do Cockroaches Eat, Exactly?
Like some other insects, cockroaches are omnivores (they will eat just about anything), consuming both plant and animal materials. Their heightened senses of smell and taste make them the least picky eaters ever. Also, in the process of becoming such resilient survivors, cockroach bodies have adapted over millions of years to be able to survive in all kinds of conditions and to derive sustenance from whatever might be around.
Cockroaches are also skilled scavengers, so finding things to munch on comes easy to them. Just about everything you and your family can digest is fair game ... and then some.
Cockroaches Love Human Food
Cockroaches avidly seek out foods that we humans like best.
They like meat products, greasy foods (e.g., fried foods, greasy foods), starches (e.g., breads, grains, cereal), and sweets. Many roaches are drawn to alcohol: they like the hops and sugar in beer.
Eliminating their sources of food as much as possible is the first step in controlling cockroaches (and many other indoor bugs).
Roaches Hunt Kitchen Surfaces for Food
Kitchens all have two things that roaches are always looking for: food and water. So, it's no surprise that cockroaches can commonly be found in your kitchen.
They will go after counter top crumbs, leftover food on dirty dishes, stray pasta or vegetables left on the stove top, etc.-- just about any fresh or processed food items you happen to leave out unwittingly or otherwise.
Cockroaches Hunt for Food in Your Pantry
Cereal, cookies, chips, oatmeal, and just about any other items in your pantry are a huge find for cockroaches. They can eagerly chew through cardboard, paper, and yes, thin plastic, to get at the food that's waiting in there. Roaches wander in the most bacteria-infested environments and track all that filth with them wherever they go. Once a package or container of food is breached by a cockroach, you should consider it contaminated, and dispose of it immediately.
Don't Forget About Your Floor
While managing the cleanliness of your kitchen, don't overlook the most obvious place where cockroaches spend most of their time traveling and hunting for food: the floor. Some cockroaches can fly, but they will still stick to hunting for food on the ground. Keep your kitchen floor swept and mopped regularly.
Also, vacuum your carpets regularly. Carpets collect food crumbs and scraps on an ongoing basis. With their powerful senses of smell, it won't take long for cockroaches to find just a few crumbs in the carpet.
Cockroaches Eat Pet Food, Too
As far as cockroaches are concerned, your pets' food is more or less the same as the food you enjoy. Roaches really love it when you leave an easily accessible bowl full of food overnight for your pet before going to bed. Free food!
Keep in mind that even if your pets eat all the food you put out for them, they leave enough crumbs and residue behind for cockroaches to feast on. Wash your pets' food dishes regularly, as well.
Do Cockroaches Eat Poop?
Remember, cockroaches are NOT picky eaters. Feces contains a rich source of nutrients that cockroaches seek out, and these scavengers will readily eat it wherever they find it.
Roaches will eat rodent droppings, and other animal poop. They will even eat one another's poop. Another reason to make them scarce by keeping things clean, clean, clean.
Other Cockroach Eats
Cockroaches gladly consume a lot more than just what you (or your pets) might consider to be edible. Roaches can also digest non-food items like cellulose, which allows them to consume all kinds of paper materials and clothing items. They can snack on magazines, newspapers, cardboard boxes, documents, and book bindings. Some roaches eat envelope and wallpaper glue, as well. And don't forget, they will also eat your forgotten dead skin flakes, hairs, and finger and toenails.
Outdoors, American and Oriental cockroaches can feed on decaying organic plant materials like leaves, dead branches and trees, and twigs.
Garbage, dead insects, and whatever other rotting material you can think of provide enough food source for plenty of roaches to easily survive on.
Do Roaches Eat Bed Bugs?
Anything is fair game for cockroaches. Roaches are known to eat bedbugs and their eggs wherever they may find them (along with the carcasses and eggs of other insects).
Do Roaches Eat Other Roaches?
Some cockroaches will eat other cockroaches. Oriental and German cockroaches will readily eat the carcasses of their dead, and if need be, will also eat their eggs and their young. Like Black Widow spiders, female American roaches have been known to kill and eat their mates.
Will Cockroaches Eat Clothes?
Dirty clothes are chock full of our dead skin, hair, and sometimes food crumbs, and some cockroaches will eat fabric, especially if there's no other food available. Enough roaches feasting on and around your clothes could eventually damage your fabrics.
Do Cockroaches Mean Your House is Dirty?
Cockroaches happen to the best of us. Finding cockroaches in your home does not mean you're a lousy housekeeper. Even with regular cleaning and tidiness in your home, cockroaches can easily find enough food and water to survive.
How Do You Get Rid of Cockroaches at Home?
The faster you act to treat for cockroaches once you've discovered them, the sooner you can eliminate a cockroach infestation in your home.
- Clean up your kitchen, and home, being careful to wipe up all spills, grease, and crumbs on counter tops and underneath/between appliances, in cupboards, etc.
- Get rid of roach hangouts like empty boxes, newspapers, magazines, etc.
- Repair any leaky plumbing/pipes/faucets indoors and outdoors
- Seal up cracks in your home’s foundation, make sure screens and weatherproofing are in good repair, cover vents with mesh, seal gaps between windows and doors and outer walls, and seal areas where utility hardware enters your house.
Use a Reliable Cockroach Killer
Cockroaches can be spot-treated and killed directly by spraying them with an effective plant-powered roach killer spray like Maggie's Farm Ant & Roach Killer Spray or Maggie’s Farm Home Bug Spray. Maggie's Farm Roach Killer Gel , Maggie's Farm Spider & Insect Dust, or Maggie’s Farm Bed Bug Killer are longer-lasting treatments for out-of the-way areas where you've seen roach activity including underneath counter tops, inside cabinets, in wall voids, etc.
Always follow directions on any pest control product you use.
How Long Does It Take to Get Rid of Cockroaches?
How long it takes to get rid of a cockroach infestation depends on several different factors, including:
- How many roaches there are
- How fast you respond once you discover cockroach activity (remember, they multiply quickly!)
- How old your home is (older homes mean more cracks/crevices/wall voids)
- How clean/tidy you keep your home (Don't fret too much - even the cleanest homes can get cockroaches)
Cockroach infestations typically take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks to eliminate. Keeping up with prevention methods and consistent treatments is key for making roaches feel unwelcome in your home.
For more information on getting rid of cockroaches, check out:
Got tips and tricks to get rid of cockroaches at home? Post a comment. We’d love to hear from you!
For scientifically-tested, effective cockroach control in your home that is friendly to the environment, try Maggie’s Farm pest control products. Our promise is that our plant and mineral-based products are developed by scientists and seasoned pest control professionals to be the most effective.