Most homeowners see roaches from time to time, particularly during the warmer months of the year. Cockroaches have been on Earth over 300 million years, so they have proven to be incredibly resilient creatures. When they find their way inside your home, roaches can be particularly difficult to evict, which is one reason they are among the most hated common household pests.
Just when you feel like giving up on the battle against roaches, you may notice that Fluffy and Fido perk up when they spy a roach scurrying across the floor. The unsuspecting roach may get batted around by your cat or hunted down by your dog. This may lead you to wonder what eats roaches and whether a more “natural” roach control alternative is right under your nose.
In this post, we’ll examine all of the common questions homeowners have around what types of animals eat roaches to determine whether this could be a reliable way to keep these maligned creatures out of your home and yard. We’ll also take a look at other natural cockroach repellents to see if they are effective at preventing roaches from sticking around.
First, let’s cover some basic information about these pests.
Cockroaches Homeowners Are Most Likely To See
Before we discuss predators of the cockroach, let’s learn a bit more about one of the most common insects around. There are about 3,500 species of cockroaches that exist around the world, with just 55 of those found in the United States.
The type of roach you are most likely to see in the warmer climates in the country, however, is the German cockroach. Despite its small size (measuring just half an inch in length), you’ve probably seen one of these pests a number of times before, scurrying around your home with its yellowish brown coloring and dark stripes on the front. The second most frequently-spotted cockroach species is the American cockroach. Unlike the German roach, though, the American cockroach is much larger and has a reddish-brown coloring to it. Measuring up to one and three-eighths inches, this species of roach is the fifth-largest species in the country.
The American cockroach has three developmental stages, which include the egg, nymph and adult stages. About 14 to 16 eggs are laid in dark brown capsules that measure about 5/16 of an inch long, typically near a food source. This stage typically lasts from 29 to 58 days with nymphs hatching in 50 to 55 days; the second stage, nymphs, can drastically differ, varying in length from 160 to 971 days. Once the nymph has reached adulthood, females can live up to 15 months. Males, on the other hand, live much shorter adult lives.
Will Cats Eat Cockroaches?
If you thought yes, you guessed correctly: Cats do eat cockroaches. Most cat owners can testify that cats love to play with nearly anything that might be moving on the ground nearby. When they’re not laying around, chances are your furry feline is crouched in a corner or offering its latest victim to its owner as a sign of love and affection. So, for domestic cats that roam indoors, the next best thing to a real-life hunt are, well, insects.
Cats require a large amount of protein to survive. Feral cats you may see living on the streets obtain their animal protein by hunting other animals, including mice, rats, birds and sometimes even rabbits. Indoor cats, on the other hand, receive ample amounts of animal protein via the food provided by their owners.
So, if an indoor cat is getting enough animal protein in its diet to survive, why does it continue to chase insects? According to some veterinarians, the act of hunting bugs is rooted in the cat’s behavior, not its biology.
Can you rely on your cat to take care of all of the roaches in your home? Unfortunately, that’s highly unlikely, which is what many homeowners with rodent problems realize when they start to think about what eats rats. First of all, cats can often play with a cockroach and not actually kill it. Or, perhaps they do deliver a fatal blow to the creature, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your kitty will clean up the mess, which means you’ll need to.
What about dogs? You’ve probably noticed similar behavior if you are a dog owner. A dog can hunt, kill and eat a roach, but this doesn’t always happen. Some dogs are better insect hunters than others and some don’t pay much attention to roaches. As with cats, there is a chance—albeit, very small—that eating a roach might pose health risks to our pets, if the roach is carrying a disease or if it came into contact with an insecticide that you put out in the hopes of controlling this pesky pest.
Do Birds Eat Roaches?
The short answer to this question is yes. But in reality, a bird eating a roach is actually quite rare sight to see. For one, most cockroaches species live indoors, and nymphs and adults are usually found in dark, warm and moist areas, such as in damp, hard to reach places in your home, in and around bathtubs and under your kitchen or bathroom sink. As such, cockroaches are, most of the time, out of sight to any bird flying outdoors.
Despite their preference for dark, damp spaces, cockroaches can also be found outdoors, though they still seek out those similar environments. Outside, cockroaches are most often found near sewers or, if on the move during the warmer months, migrating from one large building to another. Because of this pest’s secluded habitat both indoors and out, birds are typically unable to reach, perhaps even see, a cockroach.
The cockroach’s main stomping grounds is, in fact, a reason why birds shouldn’t eat them. Because they typically are found near sewers or in houses, most cockroaches have been exposed to insecticides that could be harmful to the bird if consumed.
Though a bird will enjoy a cockroach from time to time, it isn’t considered to be the pest’s biggest foe. Still, though, there are a variety of other animals that do seek out the crunchy critter big and small, ranging from small beetles and centipedes to large animals and snakes. Some insects, including several types those in the wasp family, are particularly fond of cockroaches. Take the jewel wasp, for example, which is also fittingly known as the emerald cockroach wasp. This creature preys on the cockroach for both survival and reproduction. When the wasp sees the cockroach, it lands on it and stings its brain, causing it to become paralyzed. So, even though the cockroach is still alive, it is unable to fight back.
Like the digger wasp, which paralyzes its victim and places it in its underground nest for her unborn eggs, this Ampulex Compressa wasp drags the cockroach to its nest and lays its eggs on the underbelly. Once the eggs hatch, they begin to eat the cockroach, which is typically still alive.
Other insects that prey on cockroaches include the praying mantis and centipedes, in addition to larger spider species, like the huntsman or brown recluse spider, and frogs and toads.
So, unfortunately, your feathered friends are unlikely to be the answer to your roach problem.
Are There Lizards That Eat Cockroaches?
Yes, there are lizards that eat cockroaches. In fact, most lizard species do. Insects, including cockroaches, make up most of a lizard’s diet. Some species like the bearded dragon and leopard geckos are natural roach predators; the leopard gecko is a nocturnal lizard, which makes it an even greater threat to cockroaches. Monitor lizards are also fond of cockroaches, especially those that grow up to the four inches or more in length.
For families that keep lizards like geckos and iguanas as pets, it’s commonly known that roaches are an inexpensive, convenient and nutritious addition to their pet’s diet. Still, though, it’s best that a pet owner understands that a lizard should be fed roaches that are the size of the length between the lizard’s eyes. Baby roaches, which can sometimes be found around your home, make an easy target for your pet lizard.
While it’s nice to know that your pet lizard could take care of the rare roach that might get into its cage, it’s highly unlikely that you would allow this type of pet to roam around your home and take on the primary responsibility for your cockroach control efforts.
Cockroach Natural Repellent Options
If you find yourself with an unwanted roach population in and around your home but don’t want to use insecticides or harsh chemical agents, fear not: some homeowners use a few different types of natural roach control options, with varying levels of effectiveness.
Cockroaches have a high acid content in their stomachs, so you can try placing a mixture of baking soda and sugar in areas they can reach. When they eat the mixture, the reaction it causes will result in death. Similarly, a less messy option that will yield the same results is a dough mixture comprised of baking soda, bacon grease, minced onions, sugar and flour.
Other natural control options include using Epsom salts as poisonous bait and placing bay leaves in areas cockroaches tend to dwell in, including in your cupboards, pantries and under sinks. Perhaps the most important step you’ll want to take, though, is simply keeping your home clean of any food and water sources that may attract a roach.
Although it’s certainly worth thinking about how to get rid of cockroaches on your own, you’ll probably want to revisit the reasons why these insects are considered pests in the first place. Here are just a few facts that show why homeowners often call in the pros to deal with roaches:
- A roach can live without its head for an entire week. The only reason a roach will die is that it can’t drink without a head and needs moisture to survive.
- Roaches can travel at speeds of up to three miles an hour, so they can easily make it from one part of your home to another.
- A cockroach that is only one day old can run almost as quickly as its parents. Since these creatures are only about the size of a speck of dust at that point, you are unlikely to see them.
- Roaches can survive without food for up to a month.
- A cockroach can live underwater for up to 30 minutes and can hold its breath for as long as 40 minutes.
Quite simply, these creatures have evolved to defy many of our attempts to eliminate them.
ABC Can Solve Your Roach Problems
If natural repellents aren’t working for you, or you’ve found yourself with an infestation, your best bet to rid your home of cockroaches is to call ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our team of experts can safely and effectively remove all cockroaches from your home, and keep them from coming back in the future. Our team will take a customized approach and tailor treatment plans that are specific to your problem and address any concerns you might have throughout the process.