What do roaches eat?

In this brief guide, we’ll address the query: “What do roaches eat?” Also, we’ll explain what roaches are, where they’re distributed, what the dangers of being infested with roaches are, and what to do if you’re infested with roaches. 

What do roaches eat? 

Roaches (also known as cockroaches) are omnivorous insects. However, beyond the implication that they can eat both plant matter and animals, they’ll find sustenance in just about anything that is organic matter, regardless of whether it’s alive, dead, or inanimate. 

This means that roaches will eat anything from foods stored in a pantry, to leftover foods in a dumpster, decaying plant matter that has yet to be composted, carrion, and even feces. 

These widely-omnivorous habits also make them a public health risk, as they dwell and feed in places swarming with bacteria and fungi that can potentially cause disease. 

A roach’s diet, to be certain, will mostly depend on where they find themselves, and what they can scavenge, as they’re in no way what would be considered picky-eaters. 

What are roaches? 

Roaches, also known as cockroaches, are insects that comprise an order known ad Blattodea. 

They have a characteristically flattened appearance and can measure from less than one centimeter in length to up to eight centimeters long.

Cockroaches are renowned for being able to endure some of the harshest conditions, and for a time, were reputed to be hardy enough to endure a nuclear holocaust. This claim was, however, exaggerated, but what researchers have confirmed is that they can withstand dangerously high levels of radiation. 

Over 4,500  extant species of cockroaches have been described, of which less than a hundredth of that number (thirty, to be specific) are known to dwell in urban and otherwise, anthropocentric environments.  

Cockroaches appeared on the planet at least 300 million years ago, and seem to be relatively unchanged from their earliest ancestors, save for a few differences in their reproductive organs. 

Cockroaches seem to have social tendencies, and exhibit behaviors such as decision-making, following social cues and responding to stimuli such as sounds and odors. 

Where are roaches distributed? 

Cockroaches are cosmopolitan. They can survive in subzero temperatures, balmy tropical climates, and arid deserts. 

About thirty species interact with humans in urban and suburban dwellings, but only four of them are considered pests. 

As they can survive in a wide array of habitats, cockroaches can occupy many niches such as fallen trees, beneath stones, sewer ways, kitchens, water banks, sandbeds,  warehouses, shipping containers, hotel areas, leaf litter, stables, etc. 

When they’re present in places where they ought to not be, such as convenience stores, restaurants, warehouses, and other similar places, they’re considered pests. As pests, they can cause economical damage and constitute public health risks. 

A pantry infestation is no different, and if you encounter cockroaches in your larder, you should carry out a thorough cleaning and dispose of any opened food that has possibly been contaminated, or shown signs of infestation. 

What are the dangers of being infested with roaches? 

Cockroaches are among the most unhygienic pests. If you find them in your larder, you should dispose of whatever foods they could have possibly come into contact with, and thoroughly clean out the shelves and spaces. 

As cockroaches make no distinctions between what is clean and what is not, they may dwell in sewers that are infested with bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, Vibrio cholerae, and other hazardous microbes. 

They can be carriers of diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhus, and many others. 

They don’t need to eat food in your pantry to contaminate it, simply treading through food such as grains, sugar, and other similar types is enough for them to transmit the bacteria on their legs and bodies to it. 

They’re also drawn to fatty foods such as fast food, dog and cat kibble, etc.   

What should I do if I’m infested with roaches? 

If you’re infested with cockroaches, you must first clean the area where they’ve been spotted and throw away any foods that may be contaminated, or poorly packaged, as that may draw them back.

If the infestation is moderate, you may be able to manage it with cleaning products and by applying insecticides that are authorized for domestic use, such as pyrethrins. These insecticides are available in fixture stores and gardening centers within hardware stores.

Also, you can set traps in the area, or sprinkle abrasive powders. Cockroaches have bland bodies that when wounded, make them especially susceptible to desiccation.  

It’s also important that you avoid leaving out food and make your larder (or garden, patio, or walkway, whichever) less welcoming.

If the infestation is severe and several cockroaches are coming in and out, you will need to call a professional exterminator. 

An exterminator may address the infestation with more specialized equipment such as nebulizers, or in extreme situations, by fumigating the area. 

We advise you not to try and manage severe infestations without professional assistance and to always properly seal and store your food to avoid creating a welcoming environment for cockroaches.  


In this brief guide, we have addressed the query: “What do roaches eat?” Also, we have explained what roaches are, where they’re distributed, what the dangers of being infested with roaches are, and what to do if you’re infested with roaches.







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