What Do Cockroaches Eat?

Get Rid of Cockroach Infestations.

List of Cockroach Foods

Most cockroaches are scavengers. They are sometimes called opportunistic feeders. This means that they will eat the first thing they find that can provide nutrition. The cockroach diet often depends on its location. Sometimes cockroaches eat some disgusting things.

Any solid food
Cockroaches have chewing mouthparts. This means that cockroaches are equipped to eat solid food. Cockroaches only need a small amount of food at a time. They have been found eating vegetables, meats, and fruits. They have also been found eating developing fruit, like strawberries on the plants.

Pet food
A single kibble of dog food could feed one cockroach for several weeks. In a subdivision, large American or Oriental cockroaches may eat pet food that is left on the porch or patio. They may also eat scraps from the garbage can or pet droppings that are in the yard.

Decaying wood
Some cockroaches have food preferences that people might call “unusual”. In some areas of the United States, the wood cockroach, Cryptocercus punctulatus (Scudder), feeds on decaying wood. Scientists study this cockroach to learn about its similarity to termites.

Cockroaches will eat wallpaper paste, bookbinding glue, even the paste from postage stamps.

Bed bugs
Travelers in the 1850’s discovered that cockroaches had eaten all of the bedbugs on their ship. They were not sure whether this was a good bargain to trade bedbugs for cockroaches. During the 20th century, scientists conducted laboratory experiments to confirm the cockroaches would indeed eat bedbugs.

Their offspring
Many species of cockroaches have been observed eating their own young. Adult German roaches readily eat the nymphs when they are small. Some scientists suspect this may be a reason for the nymphs leaving the hiding places before they are mature.

Roach droppings
On the other hand, newly hatched German roach nymphs often eat the droppings of the adult roaches. The droppings are available in the area where they hatched. The nymphs often do not go out to search for food until they have molted once or twice.

Scraps in dumpsters
Large cockroaches that are outdoors around a commercial building will find food scraps in the dumpster or the sewer.

Dead leaves
Smokeybrown cockroaches often eat decaying leaves in gutters. They also have been seen eating live plants.

Dead insects
In the landscaping around an office complex, large cockroaches can also find decaying leaves and dead insects to eat.

Eliminate Food to Prevent Roaches
When cockroaches move indoors, their food opportunities are almost unlimited. Modern homes often have snack food scraps in the family room, fast food packages in the trash, and food residue in the recycling bin. Cockroaches can also find crumbs, spills, and dirty dishes that provide food.

Learn how getting rid of their food is a part of Managing Cockroach Infestations.