Given how scary cockroaches look, you’d assume they’re vicious predators, but fortunately, that is one cockroach myth that isn’t true. Although cockroaches are a nuisance, they are actually at the bottom of the food chain.
So what animals eat cockroaches? Cockroaches serve as a good source of protein for amphibians, reptiles, and insects – a number of them might even be present in your backyard. Despite the prominence and abundance with which they exist, they have a large variety of predators, ranging from beetles and centipedes to birds and snakes.
In this article, we’ll go a little deeper into what kind of animals eat cockroaches, so you can determine if those animals are worth keeping as pets, keeping in your garden, or avoiding entirely.
Toads are one of the cockroach’s most common enemies. Toads can and will scarf down numerous cockroaches in one go. Toads live in almost every environment, excluding barren deserts. The majority of them are dull brown or gray, though there are some red ones with darker spots.
American toads that snack on cockroaches can be found in most backyards as they like to live in areas where they can find a source of water and shelter. You can encourage more toads to live in your area to find a natural and effective way to eliminate a cockroach infestation.
Frogs tend to be more common in the U.S. than toads, and numerous varieties can be found throughout North America, especially in the colder areas. Two of the most famous frog species are the Northern Leopard Frog and the Spring Peeper.
They are usually 3-5 inches in size, and eat cockroaches along with other bugs and insects. The Spring Peeper is one of the better-known species that is nocturnal and lives in mostly grassy and woodland areas. These frogs have a dull brown color that helps them in camouflage. They are only 1-inch long and enjoy eating cockroaches along with beetles and other small bugs.
Lizards are reptiles with small heads, long bodies, and tails. Some of them have eyelids and can blink, but most cannot. They smell with their tongues and have scaly skin.
Lizards live on every continent, excluding Antarctica. Cockroaches, along with other bugs and insects, are a lizard’s favorite food. The two types of lizards that cockroaches most often have to look out for are the ones humans keep as pets: geckos and iguanas.
Opossums are omnivorous marsupials that are native to North America. Opossums are notorious for eating all sorts of things that humans find distasteful like cockroaches, worms, roadkill, and even garbage.
Though opossums are often considered ugly, they are nowhere as disconcerting as cockroaches are capable of being. Opossums can become cockroach destroyers, though many humans are wary of them for fear of getting rabies. However, if you don’t approach one, you can be safe and get rid of cockroaches too.
As hard as it may be to believe, beetles can be predators, and this means that they hunt and feed on other insects, using them as food for themselves or their larvae.
In the US, beetles are often used to control bugs that damage the ecosystem. Alternatively, they can be used to control bugs that are just a nuisance – such as cockroaches.
While it is not recommended to release predatory beetles in your house, they can be a nice addition to a garden to keep cockroaches and aphids at bay.
Rodents such as mice and rats can also eat cockroaches. Rodents can eat cockroaches out of sticky monitoring traps as well, without getting entangled in the trap themselves. The only parts of the roaches left behind are the head, legs, and antennae. Sometimes, rodents eat the cockroach whole – exoskeleton and all – while other times, only the soft viscera of the abdomens are eaten.
Cats and dogs
Household pets such as cats and dogs also eat cockroaches. Most often, these domesticated pets will not actually eat the cockroach as much as they’d chase it around for fun. For indoor animals, particularly cats, the next best thing to a real-life hunt is preying on insects.
Cats need a large amount of protein to survive. Feral cats you might see on the street obtain their protein by hunting other animals, including mice, rats, bird, and – yes, you guessed it – cockroaches. Dogs are usually better insect hunters than cats, but they don’t often eat cockroaches.
There is a very small chance that eating roaches may pose health risks to your pet, particularly if the roach was carrying a disease or if it came in contact with an insecticide that you put out in hopes of controlling the pests.
Though birds do eat cockroaches, it is a rare sight to see. For one, most species of cockroaches tend to live indoors, and nymphs and adults are usually found in dark, warm, and moist areas. This could be your bathroom or kitchen. As such, most of the time, cockroaches are usually out of sight to birds.
However, there are still some cockroaches that can be found outdoors near sewers or in the process of migration. Though birds do enjoy eating cockroaches from time to time, they are not really a cockroach’s worst enemy.
However, because cockroaches usually live in such unsanitary places, they can be quite harmful to birds (or other animals) who consume them.
Although these are the most common cockroach predators, there are also some others that cockroaches should probably fear. Some parasitic wasps target cockroaches and lay their eggs inside cockroach egg cases. Sometimes, some fungi can prove lethal. They release spores that attach to insects. Affected cockroaches can spread their condition to other hosts.
Certain spiders also eat cockroaches, and some types of ants will also eat cockroaches if they come across them in confined spaces. Cockroaches are usually faster than ants, so they tend to escape. However, if they are outnumbered and trapped, then ants can surround and prey on them.
Some types of mites, roundworms, and centipedes are also known to prey on cockroaches.
Inside the home, cockroaches have less fear of predators and usually die of old age. However, some of the hungry creatures that can rid you of these pests can be pests themselves. Beetle larvae, silverfish, and even other roaches can feed on cockroaches. However, this is a rare case. Normally, roaches can live up to a month without food. But if the situation gets harsher, and they are unable to find other food, they may eat each other. It is rare to see it happen, however. Even during difficult times, cockroaches only eat other weak ones who are not capable of survival.
Why do these animals eat cockroaches?
Of course, if other creatures eat cockroaches, it will be beneficial for humans since they are ridding us of one of the most unwanted species and the biggest nuisance. With a livelier, natural habitat, and thriving ecosystem around, the less likely you are to have a cockroach problem that gets out of control. By eating cockroach larvae and even fully grown cockroaches, these predators help to keep the pesky roach population in control.
They also have the added benefit of receiving a whole load of protein from the cockroach that it has gathered in its body from consuming waste or decaying matter. However, most creatures are not able to get their required amount of protein from cockroaches and have to eat either numerous amounts or vary their diet.
What do cockroaches eat? Cockroaches are omnivorous scavengers that will eat any organic food available. They are usually drawn to sweets, meats, and starches, but are also known to consume other items such as hair, books, and decaying material.
Are cockroaches dangerous? Although cockroaches are not dangerous in the sense that they are poisonous or because they bite, they are definitely harmful due to the number of diseases they carry. Cockroaches can be carriers of microorganisms that cause diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, leprosy, typhoid, and other viral diseases.
How to get rid of cockroaches? To get rid of cockroaches, you can either use home remedies such as boric acid or gel bait. You can also call pest management professionals who will rid of any infestations you may have in your home.