What Do Cockroaches Eat? A Guide to Their Diet

by Derrick | Last Updated: May 25, 2023

Cockroaches are one of the most common household pests, and they are known for their ability to survive in almost any environment. One of the reasons for their success is their ability to eat almost anything. Cockroaches are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. They particularly like starches, sweets, greasy foods, and meats, but roaches are not picky eaters.

If you have ever had a cockroach infestation in your home, you may have wondered what they eat. The answer is almost anything. Cockroaches will eat anything derived from something once a living organism, such as plants and animals. This includes cardboard boxes, book bindings, and even glue. They also eat feces, dead insects, and other organic matter. Cockroaches are so adaptable that they can survive for months without food if they have access to water.

What Do Cockroaches Eat?

Cockroaches are opportunistic feeders that will eat just about anything available to them. They are one of the least picky eaters on this planet. Let’s explore the diet of cockroaches in more detail.

Cockroach Diet

Cockroaches are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. They feed on various foods, including meats, leather, feces, insects, starches, book bindings, soap, bacteria, glue, sweets, ants, and other insects. They can also consume greasy foods, sugar, skin flakes, fingernails, toothpaste, and organic matter.

Food Sources

Cockroaches can find food in a wide range of places. They can feed on cardboard boxes, stamps, newspapers, dead trees, pet food, wallpaper paste, spiders, garbage, animal matter, kitchen surfaces, carpets, and documents. They also eat decaying organic matter and decaying wood.

Different species of cockroaches have different dietary preferences. For example, the American and other outdoor cockroaches feed on piles of leaves, twigs, and dead trees. German cockroaches, one of the most common species in homes worldwide, prefer to feed on starchy and sugary foods.

It’s rare for a cockroach to run out of food since they are such efficient scavengers. They can survive for weeks without food, depending on the species. However, they need water to survive; some species can only go a few days without it.

In conclusion, cockroaches are adaptable and opportunistic feeders that can survive on various food sources. To prevent cockroach infestations, keeping your home clean and free of food debris is essential. Store food in airtight containers, clean up spills promptly, and dispose of garbage regularly.

Cockroach Diet

Cockroaches are omnivorous and opportunistic feeders, which means they can eat a wide variety of foods. Here are some things they’re known to consume:

  1. Human food: Cockroaches are often attracted to human food, particularly sweets, meats, and starches.
  2. Decaying matter: Cockroaches can eat organic matter that’s decaying, including plant matter and dead animals.
  3. Paper and book bindings: Surprisingly, cockroaches can also consume things like paper and the glue in book bindings.
  4. Starch-based paints and wallpaper: In some cases, they’ve been known to consume things like starch-based paints and wallpaper.
  5. Other insects: Some species of cockroach can also consume other insects.

It’s important to note that while cockroaches can survive on a wide range of foods, they do need access to water, and can only live for about a week without it. In contrast, they can survive for about a month without food . Their adaptability and omnivorous diet are part of what makes them such successful pests in many parts of the world.

Cockroach TypeDiet – Favorite Foods
American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana)Decaying organic matter, sweets, paper, clothing, and other starchy items.
German Cockroaches (Blattella germanica)Sweets, meats, starches, and fatty foods. Also, glue, soap, and toothpaste.
Oriental Cockroach (Blatta orientalis)Decaying organic matter, garbage, and other waste products.
Brown-banded Cockroach (Supella longipalpa)Starches, particularly glue from book bindings, stamps, and wallpaper paste.
Australian Cockroach (Periplaneta australasiae)Decaying organic matter, but also has a preference for plants.
Smokybrown Cockroach (Periplaneta fuliginosa)Decaying organic matter, plant material, and other insects.
Madagascar Hissing Cockroach (Gromphadorhina portentosa)Primarily plant material, including fruit, vegetables, and decaying organic matter.

Please note that this is a general guide, and the diet of these cockroaches can vary depending on their environment and food availability. They are known to be very adaptable and can survive on a wide range of food sources.

Food Sources

Cockroaches are scavengers and will eat almost anything they can find. They are particularly attracted to food sources high in sugar, fat, and protein. Here are some familiar food sources that cockroaches are attracted to:

Human Food

Cockroaches will eat any human food that is left out in the open. They are particularly attracted to sugary and greasy foods like cookies, candy, and potato chips. Cockroaches will also eat bread, pasta, and other starchy foods.  Cockroaches love inhabiting restaurants and grocery stores due to the easily accessible foods.

Kitchen Surfaces

Cockroaches are attracted to food residue that is left on kitchen surfaces. They will eat crumbs, spills, and even grease left on countertops, stovetops, and other kitchen surfaces.

Pantry and Storage

Cockroaches will eat any food that is stored in pantries and storage areas. They are particularly attracted to grains, such as rice, oats, and wheat. Cockroaches will also eat dried fruit, nuts, and seeds.

Pet Food

Cockroaches are attracted to pet food that is left out in the open. They will eat both dry and wet pet food. Cockroaches will also eat pet treats and other pet food products.


Cockroaches are attracted to the garbage that contains food waste. They will eat any food waste left in the garbage, including meat, dairy, and vegetable scraps.

Decaying Organic Matter

Cockroaches eat decaying organic matter, such as dead insects, leaves, and plant material. They will also eat decaying animal matter, such as dead rodents and birds.

To prevent cockroaches from accessing food sources, it is crucial to keep your home clean and tidy. Clean up spills and crumbs immediately, store food in airtight containers, and take out the garbage regularly. By doing so, you can help prevent cockroaches from infesting your home.

Cockroach Pest Control

When controlling cockroaches, the best approach is to be proactive. By taking preventative measures, you can reduce the likelihood of an infestation. However, if you do find yourself dealing with a cockroach problem, you can use a few different methods to control them.


Prevention is the key to avoiding a cockroach infestation. Here are some steps you can take:

By taking these steps, you can reduce the chances of attracting cockroaches to your home.


If you have a small cockroach problem, traps can be an effective way to control them. There are a variety of traps available, including sticky traps and bait traps. Sticky traps use a sticky substance to trap the cockroaches, while bait traps use a poison to kill them.


Pesticides can be an effective way to control a cockroach infestation. However, they should only be used as a last resort. Pesticides can harm humans and pets, so it is essential to follow the instructions carefully. It is also important to choose a pesticide that is designed explicitly for cockroaches.


Peppermint is a natural repellent that can be used to deter cockroaches. Cockroaches do not like the smell of peppermint, so placing peppermint oil around your home can help keep them away. You can also make a peppermint spray by mixing peppermint oil and water and spraying it around your home.

In conclusion, by taking preventative measures, such as keeping your home clean and sealing any cracks, you can reduce the chances of a cockroach infestation. If you do find yourself dealing with a cockroach problem, traps, pesticides, and peppermint can all be effective ways to control them.


In conclusion, the diet of cockroaches is as diverse as the species themselves. These resilient insects are omnivorous and can consume various organic materials, from decaying matter to plant materials and even items we wouldn’t typically consider food, such as paper, clothing, and glue. Their adaptability to various food sources contributes significantly to their survival in different environments, making them one of the most enduring creatures on the planet. Understanding their dietary habits can aid in effective pest control strategies, as limiting their food sources can be a key factor in managing their populations. Despite their reputation, cockroaches play a vital role in our ecosystem by aiding in decomposition and turning waste materials into usable nutrients for plant life.