The Dirty Truth About What Cockroaches Eat and What Attracts Them

Cockroaches are inherently unnerving to look at. The sight of such a creepy-crawly twitching its antennas and roaming around my house always sends me running for cover. 

Sounds familiar?

There is no denying the fact. Roaches are indignant, gross little pests, hiding in the nooks and crannies of our homes.

They are synonymous with filth and poor sanitation and invariably show up every time your attention falters. Plus, they’re also vectors for pathogens, spreading Salmonellosis, Typhoid Fever, and Cholera. 

But what gives them the energy to scurry around all day?

Let’s find out what cockroaches eat.

What do Cockroaches Eat?

Cockroaches are nocturnal insects that are attracted to food sources, water, and warmth. While cockroaches will eat almost anything, they prefer sugary and starchy foods. Cockroaches are also attracted to grease and meat products.

Cockroaches are able to survive on very little food, which is why they are often associated with filth. However, cockroaches will not hesitate to invade homes and businesses in search of food. Once inside, cockroaches can be difficult to control and eliminate.

Are Cockroaches Herbivorous?

The short answer is NO. 

Contrary to popular belief, cockroaches are omnivorous scavengers. This means that they are equally attracted to meat as they are to vegetarian leftovers. 

Although they prefer vegetable peels, bits of meat, and other starches, they are often too famished to be choosy- gladly polishing off unconventional items like hair, books, cloth, and decaying matter. 

Cockroaches are hardly finicky about their food and eat what is available: for instance, roaches that inhabit plumbing feed on grime and sewage, while the species that reside outdoors consume decaying wood, leaves, and bark. 

Factors that Attract Cockroaches

There are many factors that attract cockroaches. Some of the most common include food, water, and shelter.


Cockroaches are attracted to food sources that are high in carbohydrates and proteins. This includes crumbs, spilled drinks, and pet food.


Cockroaches need water to survive and will often be found near sources of moisture like leaky pipes, sinks, and toilets.


Cockroaches like to hide in dark, small spaces. This can include cracks and crevices in walls and floors, beneath appliances, and inside cabinets.

Common Sources of Food for Cockroaches

There are many different types of cockroaches, but the most common in the United States are German and American cockroaches. These pests are attracted to food sources that are high in sugar and fat, such as sweets, baked goods, grease, and meat. They will also eat other insects, so if you have a roach problem, you may want to check for other pests in your home as well.

what cockroaches eat and what attracts cockroach

Common Places Where Cockroaches Feed

Cockroaches are attracted to food sources that provide them with the nutrients they need to survive. Some of the most common places where cockroaches feed include:


Cockroaches are attracted to the smells of food cooking and will often enter homes through open doors or windows in search of a meal. Once inside, they will scavenge for anything edible, including crumbs on the floor or countertops, uncovered food, and even garbage.


Cockroaches are also attracted to moisture, so bathrooms are another common place where they will feed. They will drink from toilet bowls, standing water in sinks, and any other sources of water they can find. In addition, cockroaches are known to eat soap and toothpaste, so be sure to keep these items stored away securely.


While most people think of cockroaches as filthy creatures that only inhabit dirty homes, the truth is that they will infest clean homes as well. In fact, bedrooms are one of the most common places where cockroaches feed since they offer a variety of potential food sources, including clothing fibers (which they use for nesting), skin flakes, hair, and even blood from sleeping humans.

Where do Cockroaches Search for Food?

Cockroaches often tend to ignore the threat of getting killed by humans and other predators when they are hungry. As a consequence, you can almost always spot them roaming around the house confidently as soon as the lights are switched off.  The  most common areas frequented by roaches include: 

  • Tabletops: Cockroaches often crawl on high counters, tables, and chairs to hunt for food and polish off tiny crumbs and other leftovers.
  • Dirty Dishes: Food left on dirty dishes is the next biggest source of food for the roaches. 
  • Floors: Whenever you drop crumbs on the floor, roaches quickly sense the feast and come rushing for a taste. 

Signs of a Cockroach Infestation

Cockroaches are one of the most common household pests, and they can be very difficult to get rid of once they take up residence in your home. There are a few telltale signs that you have a cockroach infestation:

1. You see them during the day. Cockroaches are nocturnal creatures, so if you see them out and about during the day, it’s a good indicator that there are a lot of them.

2. You see them in your cupboards or pantry. Cockroaches like to hide in small, dark places, so if you start seeing them in your food storage areas, it’s a good sign that there’s an infestation.

3. You find their droppings around your home. Cockroach droppings look like small black specks, and you’ll usually find them near where the cockroaches are hiding.

4. You hear them scurrying around at night. If you start hearing strange noises coming from your walls or floors at night, it’s likely that cockroaches are the culprits.

DIY Tips to Keep Cockroaches Away

Cockroaches are one of the most common pests in homes and businesses. They are attracted to food and water sources and can contaminate surfaces with their feces. Cockroaches can also trigger allergies and asthma attacks in people.

There are a few simple things you can do to deter cockroaches from taking up residence in your home or business:

1. Store food in sealed containers and dispose of garbage regularly.

2. Keep your kitchen clean, including counters, appliances, and floors.

3. Fix leaks and other moisture problems around your home or business. Cockroaches are attracted to dampness.

4. Seal cracks and openings around your home or business, including doors and windows. This will help prevent cockroaches from entering.

5. Use bait stations or traps to catch cockroaches if you already have an infestation. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully when using these products.

tips to keep cockroach away
Get Rid Of Cockroach

Can Cockroaches live without food?

Cockroaches are able to go without food for a surprisingly long time. In fact, cockroaches can live for up to one month without food. However, this does not mean that cockroaches do not need food. Cockroaches still need to eat in order to survive and thrive.

Most importantly, they need a ready source of moisture much more than they need food, often inhabiting leaky pipes, faucets, etc. 

It has been observed that when deprived of water, cockroaches can barely live a few days to a week, while they can survive for months at a time without food. 

Therefore, they will die more quickly if given dry food but have no access to water.

What do Roaches Eat when Food is Unavailable?

Despite being omnivores like humans, cockroaches often have to depend on unconventional sources of nutrition to survive. 

For example, cockroaches love to extract the starch from book bindings, paper, and wallpaper paste and then glue it on the back of stamps.

Similarly, for protein, they hunt for dead insects, animal skin, and even human hair and fingernails as viable food sources.

Cockroaches have also been documented as murderers, sometimes eating their offspring if food gets scarce enough.

And finally, they can even go to the lengths of biting people (although rarely), if the infestation has reached cataclysmic levels and available food starts to dwindle. 

What do Roaches Eat Outdoors?

Being admirers of a vast variety of food, it is unlikely this ever happens. However, given the chance, roaches can eat decaying plants and dead wood outdoors. 

They can even munch on waste, sewage, and water, living comfortably in the darkness and moisture of sewers.

Final Words

Cockroaches have adapted to human lifestyles with time. They have learned to become expert food hunters indoors, silently scavenging for waste and crumbs as you sleep at night.

Yes. This is the enemy you are dealing with. 

Cockroaches are stubborn, quick, and smart. 

So remember. It’s always best to hire exterminators and rid your house of such pests to lead a happy, tension-free life. They’re trained and have better equipment to sort out the mess. 

And of course, regularly vacuuming your home and maintaining hygiene is always the number one solution to avoid any kind of infestation. 

Photo of author


Daniel White
I'm Daniel White, and I live in Jacksonville, Florida. The warm and humid climate of Florida gives an ideal habitat for many different kinds of pests. So, if I had to live in Florida, I had to learn how to deal with these pests. Now, I have 7 years of experience in Pest Control.

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