Cockroach Facts: What Do Roaches Eat?

Cockroaches don’t need lavish spreads of food to feed on. Stray vegetables or scraps left on dirty dishes are enough to keep them around your home.

One thing to know about roaches is that they aren’t picky eaters. In order to survive, they will get nutrients from any organic material. 

Organic material in this case extends to many things that most people wouldn’t think of as food. Cockroaches are opportunistic eaters, so there are very few items on their list that they won’t eat. Nearly everything digestible by humans can be food for roaches.

What Can Roaches Eat?

Cockroaches, like humans, are omnivorous creatures, meaning they eat both plants and animals. They will also branch out to items that aren’t traditionally considered food.

Depending on the environment they are living in, they will eat whatever organic material they can find that gives them the nutrients they need to survive.

In an Indoor Environment

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meats
  • Breads
  • Cooking Oils
  • Sugar
  • Pet Food

Non-Food Items They Eat

  • Paint
  • Nail Clippings
  • Hair
  • Dead Skin
  • Feces
  • Leather
  • Soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Paper

In an Outdoor Environment

  • Decaying Tree Bark
  • Injured or Dead Bugs
  • Rotting Plants
  • Dirt
  • Mushrooms
  • Animal Carcasses
  • Animal Feces

What Do Roaches Eat First?

There really is nothing that a roach won’t eat. However, there are certain foods that they prefer over others.

The diet of a cockroach is similar to that of a human. They prefer starchy and sugary material. Roaches will nibble on cheese, meats, pastries, grain products, sugar, and chocolate. 

If they have infested your home, you will probably find them in your kitchen or near food prep areas looking for scraps. Keep the areas where you store and prep food clean and wiped down to prevent infestations. 

Roaches enjoy nibbling on starchy and sugary materials.

What Foods or Items Do Cockroaches NOT Eat?

While these pests aren’t picky, there are some things they will avoid.

There aren’t foods that roaches won’t eat, but they will avoid ingredients like cayenne pepper and lemon juice. They also avoid bay leaves, coffee grounds, and cucumber slices.

Cockroaches also do not consume non-organic items like metal or plastic.

How Do Roaches Feed?

Cockroaches are scavengers, so they will crawl around until they find what they need.  

Smell is a sense cockroaches rely heavily on. While scavenging, their antennae will move from side to side to smell the food in the air. 

Once they have identified what they want to eat, they will use their mouth to consume it. Cockroach mouths are made up of a labrum, a set of mandibles, a gizzard, and the maxillae.  Each of these things serves a purpose during the consumption process. 

  • The labrum is the flap at the front of the mouth that pulls the food towards their mouths. It basically works as a set of lips, preventing the food from falling out. 
  • The mandibles are what cockroaches use to chew the food. In order to break their food down into smaller pieces, they use what is called the maxillae.
  • The maxillea are essentially teeth that grind up the food and are located below the mandibles.
  • The gizzard is an organ composed of 6 plates. It helps to crush the food once it reaches the digestive system.

What if They Cannot Find Food?

If roaches can’t find their favorite foods, unfortunately they won’t just leave. When cockroaches no longer have access the foods they typically search for, they will seek out other organic sources that aren’t considered “traditional” food items.

These adaptive creatures will snoop around your home, dig through your trash and waste, as well as in plants, soap, and makeup. They will turn to other forms of starch like book binding, paper, and wallpaper paste. 

If, for some reason, cockroaches cannot find any of these items, they will resort to eating their own eggs. They will even feed on weaker, full grown roaches. 

How Long Can Roaches Survive Without Food?

Cockroaches are hardy creatures that have the ability to survive without food for upwards of a month. However, this is only possible if they have enough water to drink.

Without water, roaches will only last a week.

Their ability to survive long periods of time without food or water is due to them being cold-blooded insects. When it gets cold and there are less food options, they will have to preserve their energy since they cannot regulate their own body temperature. Cockroaches do this by keeping their activities to a minimum.

About MMPC

Dealing with a cockroach infestation can be stressful, fortunately, MMPC is able to help! We are one of New York City’s highest-rated pest control companies, with 25+ years of experience in inspecting, controlling, and preventing pest infestations using eco-friendly methods. 

If you need help exterminating a cockroach problem in the Tri-State Area, give MMPC a call today!