Learn About Eating Habits of Cockroaches
Cockroaches are a terribly annoying pest to deal with, no matter where you live. They are creepy to look at, unsanitary and they can find their way into anything and leave behind their musty droppings and eggs.
While the majority of cockroach species prefer to live outdoors, the types of cockroaches that do prefer to live near humans or in human dwellings do so because they have adapted over the years where it’s more beneficial to stay close to us than it is to be away from us.
All cockroaches need three simple things to survive: water, shelter and of course, food. Unfortunately, for us, our homes provide them with all of the above so they stick around and live off of the moisture we leave behind, the food we spill, fail to clean up and store away properly. It also doesn’t help that since they are so small, they can easily slide and squeeze their way into cracks and crevices that serve as points of entry into our homes.
To get rid of a cockroach infestation in your home, it makes sense to eliminate food sources that cockroaches might find appetizing and eliminate their access to water. Of course this can be easier said than done because, despite your best efforts, cockroaches may still survive and thrive in a home for quite some time.
Why? This is in large because cockroaches will eat practically anything for their survival. You’d be surprised to know just how far their would go to get a meal and keep on ticking.
What Do Cockroaches Really Eat?
Cockroaches are omnivores, much like we are, however, they take it to an entirely different level because they will eat anything that even has the smallest amount of nutritional value from any sort of source. As long as it is edible, cockroaches will try it.
Of the 4,500 plus species of cockroaches there are in the world, only about 30 are considered to be household pests, with the most common pests being German Cockroaches, American Cockroaches, Oriental Cockroaches and Brown Banded cockroaches.
For the cockroach species that prefer to live out in the wilderness, the food they enjoy eating is similar to many other outdoor insects:
- smaller insects
- Organic matter
- Animal dropping
- Dead tree parts
For cockroaches that are found in homes and have adapted to enjoy foods we like, they have a much more varied list of food items they eat. Cockroaches are basically crawling garbage disposals; they truly aren’t picky about what they eat.
Cockroaches are constantly foraging for food from the moment they wake up in the middle of the night to when they go to their hiding places to sleep. The following are the food preferences that cockroaches eat indoors.
- Human food left out (crumbs, uncovered leftovers etc.)
Cockroaches basically like what we like to eat. While they are not picky, they certainly have favorite types of food such as sweet foods, starches and meats. Cockroaches are also fans of greasy foods and grease itself, cheeses or anything that has started to decay or go moldy.
Even stored food in the pantry that isn’t properly sealed and closed off can be gobbled up by cockroaches. There has been many recorded instances of people pouring out a bowl of cereal only to see roaches also swimming around in the milk.
- Pet food
We might find even the thought of pet food to be disgusting, but cockroaches love pet food due to the ample amount of nutrients and minerals that are infused in dry pet food products. It should be of no surprise to see pet food that has been left out in a bowl overnight to be crawling with cockroaches Roach
- Hair and toenail clippings
As humans, we shed our hair whether we know it or not. The hair we leave behind is actually a food option by cockroaches as well as pet fur. What’s even more startling to know is that some cockroaches have been recorded to have been feeding on the hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes of people while they sleep. Definitely a scary thought.
Cockroaches are also opportunistic in eating left behind nail clippings. As we said before they will eat practically anything that has even the tiniest bit of nutritional benefit. A few other food items cockroaches have been known to eat include:
- Book Bindings
- Wallpaper glue
How Long Can a Cockroach Survive Without Food?
The first step in any control program to get rid of a cockroach infestation starts with a thorough cleanup and sanitation in order to remove the food sources that the roaches are going after during their foraging. While this is crucial, a cleanup alone, no matter how detailed, will not be enough to eliminate a cockroach infestation and make them seek elsewhere for food.
Cockroaches can survive for an entire month without any food because as cold blooded animals, they have the ability to store the energy from food for a long period of time. And since cockroaches are always on the hunt for food and are so opportunistic when they actually find something to eat—anything from cardboard to human waste and utter garbage can suffice—a cockroach will eventually find something to eat to where they don’t die out after a month.
What is more important to eliminate when trying to get rid of roaches is getting rid of easy access to water. Unlike it’s long threshold without eating food, cockroaches can only survive a week without drinking water. Cockroaches will readily lap up water wherever they can find it, be it from drips of water from the sink that hasn’t been dried up, plumbing leaks, or anywhere moisture accumulates. Some things you can do is use a humidifier to dry up areas where moisture is a problem, repair plumbing leaks (particularly under your sink) and most of all dry up your kitchen sink at the end of the night.
There’s No Starving A Roach
If you’ve seen those documentary shows about human survival and eating things you normally wouldn’t eat in life and death survival situations, then you should know that roaches also will go to such extremes if they have to to survive when there is no easy access to food.
For example, cockroaches are known to be both coprophagic and emetophagic. Coprophagic means that cockroaches will eat there own excrement in desperate times for survival and the feces of other roaches when there is no other food available. Emetophagic means that they will also eat their own regurgitation if need be.
Finally, if it comes down to it, cockroaches will even eat other cockroaches in the colony for survival. All these practices, while extreme, cockroaches will readily carry out in the event that there is no food available.
The problem with that is that such practices are not totally dependent upon because since cockroaches are such opportunistic eaters and relentless foragers, they often do track down something that they could eat to survive in the home if you happened to do a very good job of cleaning up and taking away the food sources that they were previously enjoying.
Using What You’ve Learned Against Cockroaches
When you have done your due diligence in cleaning up your home, eliminating food and water sources from the area, the cockroaches will still be eagerly foraging night after night, even if they come up short. This is when using a cockroach bait is so essential and is why cockroach baiting when done right is the best way to get rid of a cockroach infestation.
Hungry cockroaches that don’t have access to their usual food options will notice little beads of bait and since nothing else is available they will consume the bait, alert others that food is available and share among the colony. It is especially useful that that bait contains food grade attractants (sweets, oils etc.) that cockroaches enjoy which will make them more willing to try the bait.
Baits are normally slow-acting so cockroaches will often die in their nest. As you’ve learned earlier, cockroaches will eat their own and each others feces, vomit and dead bodies. When they do die, other cockroaches will notice their dead comrade and begin to eat him or eat their droppings which contain that bait active ingredient that will kill them as well.
Soon enough with enough cockroaches consuming the bait and eating one another’s dead bodies and feces, a domino effect should occur, significantly reducing or totally eliminating the roach population.
To sum up this article, you’ve learned just how opportunistic cockroaches can be and how varied their appetites can be. Cockroaches have very disgusting habits when it comes to what they eat but fortunately, you can use your knowledge of their habits and tendencies to carry out an effective cockroach control plan that will eliminate their infestation and prevent them from re-establishing.
With a proper and thorough clean up and removal of the cockroaches food and water sources and some select cockroach insecticides and baits, you can successfully eliminate a roach problem and protect your home from these unwanted guests.