What Do Cockroaches Eat? | Surprising Foods and Prevention Tips

Written by George Climer

A lot of us know that cockroaches can survive for quite a while without food. But not a whole lot of people know what these creatures actually eat.

What do cockroaches eat? Cockroaches eat both animal and plant-based food sources, which means they are omnivorous scavengers. Basically, cockroaches will feed on any organic food source that they are able to find. Cockroaches can even consume decaying matter, books, and hair. Their diet gives them a unique ability to adapt to any environment.

What do these unique creatures eat in the wild? What are they looking for in your house? Do cockroaches eat dog food, mold, and…poop? If you want to learn everything about the diet preferences of cockroaches stick with us till the end. Let’s begin!

What Do Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches Eat In the Wild?

In the wild, Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches eat decaying plants, animal matter (small insects and animal carcasses), and fallen fruit. That means that they are “decomposers”.

What Do German Cockroaches Eat?

Scientifically speaking, German cockroaches are omnivorous scavengers. They certainly do have their preferences though. These insects adore meat, sugars, fatty foods, and starches.

However, they can totally survive without these delicacies. If there is a shortage of food, German cockroaches will eat even toothpaste and soap! At one point, these creatures can start eating each other.

Do German Cockroaches Eat Bed Bugs?

German cockroaches can eat bed bugs. Basically, these insects are enemies. However, roaches are not a reliable method for treating an infestation. Bed bugs simply multiply faster than German cockroaches do.

What Do Flying Cockroaches Eat?

Flying cockroaches are not separate type of roaches. Brown-banded and Asian cockroaches, for example, are great flyers. And their diet includes all the things that any other roach eats. The insects are omnivorous and they feed on any available food source. Asian cockroaches can be commonly found consuming flowers and agricultural crops.

What Do Cockroaches Eat? | General Information

cockroach food preferences

Bed Bugs

Roaches do eat bed bugs. However, only some species prefer to snack on a bed bug or two. American, German, Oriental, and brown-banded cockroaches will most definitely feast on the bed bugs.


Roaches are not known for eating living ants but they will eat dead ants without a doubt.


Some roaches can eat rotten wood and dead trees. Wood cockroaches, for example, mainly consume leaf litter and decaying organic matter. Thankfully, unlike a termite, a wood cockroach does not live inside wooden structures.


The truth is that poop is a relatively good food source for cockroaches. It is a rich source of nutrients, and the roaches will certainly consume any type of feces they come across.


Do Cockroaches Eat Hair

If cockroaches have nothing else to eat, they will consume hair (including eyelashes). They can consume whatever they find in your hairbrush, the hair that has fallen to the floor, or the hair in your drain.


Roaches won’t eat living fleas, possibly, because it’s really challenging to catch them. However, cockroaches will surely eat dead fleas.

Mouse Bait

Yes, roaches are fond of mouse bait as it usually contains fatty foods. By the way, the bait will not affect the cockroaches as they are not mammals.

Plastic Bags

Can Cockroaches Eat Through Plastic Bags

Roaches can easily eat through light plastic (plastic bags and even some containers). So, it’s better to use cockroach-proof containers whenever you can.

Can Cockroaches Eat Through Walls?

Fortunately, roaches can’t eat through walls. However, they can easily find a small hole or crack to squeeze through.


Yes, roaches eat all kinds of fruits. In your house, you will find them snacking on the fruits and peels left at the bottom of trash cans and bowls.


Thankfully, roaches are not fond of fabric. But they can be attracted to various stains and drink spills. As a result, your clothes that used to have a stain can be left with a hole.


Do Cockroaches Eat Salt

Roaches love salty food, but, in most cases, they stay away from the actual salt. Moreover, these insects can be killed by salt, if they are drowned in it.

Dog Food

Yes, cockroaches eat dog food. By the way, if you have a pet roach, you better give it dog food to ensure that the insect gets enough nutrients.

Other Cockroaches

When there is absolutely no food left, cockroaches can start to eat one another. This usually happens when the population of roaches outgrows the available food source.

Cat Food

Cockroaches love both cat and dog food. And it doesn’t really matter whether the food is dry or moist, these insects will still adore it.

Garden Plants

Do Cockroaches Eat Garden Plants

Roaches will rarely choose to live in your garden. Even if they do, they will most likely not touch the plants. However, they can certainly snack on fruits, vegetables, and dead plants.


Roaches can live in grass clippings and eat them as well. They prefer to consume the grass that decays as it is easier to digest.


Mold is not an actual food source for roaches. But these insects can consume mold as it will help them to breakdown the paper that they might have eaten before that.


Yes, cockroaches do eat paper. That means that these creatures can destroy your favorite books, so make sure to get rid of the infestation in time.

Rat Poison

Roaches will eat rat poison with pleasure. The poison will not affect them in any way.


Silicone is one of the few things on this planet that cockroaches won’t eat. Moreover, silicone caulk can help you keep these annoying pests out of your house.

Human Flesh

Roaches are more likely to snack on your fingernails or hair, for example. But, unfortunately, it has been proven that insects can eat human flesh as well (both living and dead).


Yes, roaches love to eat bananas as well as any other sugary fruits.


Do Cockroaches Eat Cardboard

Surprisingly, cardboard is a great food source for cockroaches. These insects will even eat boxes because they are happy to consume both the cardboard and the glue.

Cat Poop

Roaches are attracted to dirty cat litter and they will certainly consume the animal’s poop.


Cockroaches are attracted to anything that has sugar, so yes, they do eat chocolate.


You might not see a roach eating a living cricket as it is challenging to catch them. However, the cockroach will be happy to consume dead cricket.


Roaches don’t exactly eat dust. But if it contains small particles of food, for example, then they will consume it.

Expanding Foam

Expanding foam is not considered to be a food source for roaches, so the chances are high that they won’t be able to eat through it. This is the main reason why expanding foam can help you keep these pests out of your house.


Do Cockroaches Eat Leather

Animal skin is a viable food source for roaches. They especially love the soft inside part of the leather.

Other Insects

Roaches will surely eat other insects (dead insect bodies, most of the time).


If a roach is living outdoors, it will eat decaying plants and dead wood.


If there are no other food sources, then they will start to eat soap as well.


Roaches are attracted to sugar and any other type of sugary food. However, there have been studies that state that cockroaches have started to lose their “sweet tooth” in order to avoid traps.


Roaches will, most likely, eat the dead bodies of termites.

Their Own Poop

Cockroaches can eat the poop of other creatures, but the chances are high that they are not going to use their own feces as a food source. Wood cockroaches, for example, cover their homes with their own waste, in order to prevent the growth of fungus.


Yes, roaches will eat tomatoes and plenty of other vegetables and fruits.

What Do Cockroaches Drink?

What Do Cockroaches Drink

Cockroaches mainly drink water. By the way, the number one reason why cockroaches die without their head is that they are not able to drink any longer.

However, the truth is that roaches would be happy to drink anything that has sugar in it (soda or juices). For example, some cockroaches are fond of alcoholic beverages and you might even spot them drinking your beer.

What Do Cockroaches Eat In the House?

Practically anything! Once a cockroach gets into your house, it is exposed to hundreds and hundreds of different food sources. Bread, cereals, sugar, juice, soda, meat products, pet food, small insects, bakery foods, cheese, tea, milk, food crumbs, fungi, wood particles, and so on.

These are only a few examples of the things that roaches can eat in your house. And don’t forget that these creatures can consume even your fingernails and hair.

What Do Cockroaches Eat In the Wild?

Roaches would be happy to eat anything that they can find. They will consume decaying plant and animal matter. Most of the time, the insects can be found eating decaying carcasses, dead tree barks, and dead ants. Cockroaches don’t go out hunting for food. They simply prefer to find a place that has a lot of food sources (they are not choosy).

What Do Cockroaches Like to Eat the Most?

As we already know, roaches don’t mind fingernails or even poop. However, they would certainly prefer to eat meats, starches, and sweets for the rest of their lives. These creatures are attracted to sugar and anything that has sugar in it. Juice, soda, fruits, baked goods, and candy – the cockroaches will eat it all.

Cockroaches also love starch, so they will snack on book bindings, cardboard, and paper (pizza boxes and paper bags included). Grease is a great source of fat and cockroaches will feed on the grease that can be found on your frying pan or in the oven.

Surprisingly, roaches also love cheese, and lastly, they are really fans of meat. Roaches adore the smell of meat and will seek for the tiniest parts of the chicken, beef, and other meats.

How Cockroaches Eat Food – Method of Eating

Insects have different methods of eating. Mosquitoes, for example, prefer the “piercing-sucking method”, a blowfly will use the ‘sponging’ method, bees like “siphoning”, and cockroaches will always use the “chewing” method. This method is used by a lot of insects for biting and grinding solid foods. Not only cockroaches, but also termites, dragonflies, beetles, crickets, and caterpillars use this method of eating.

List of Sources

Cockroach Control Manual, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

Research Into Cockroach Behavior Could Lead To Better Baits, University of Florida

Cockroaches, NY Department of Health