Cockroaches are industrious bugs that live longer than most insects. But they still have to watch for predators. What eats cockroaches? In this article, you’ll learn about some of the most voracious cockroach predators. Animals that eat roaches include other insects, spiders, birds, reptiles, mammals, fish, and amphibians.
Cockroaches are eaten by almost every type of animal and insect. They are plentiful and a good source of protein. Here’s a quick list of the cockroach predators featured:
- Insects and Arachnids: Common House Spider, Wolf Spider, Jumping Spider, Cockroach Wasp, Praying Mantis
- Birds: Chicken, American Robin, Parrot
- Reptiles: Gecko, Veiled Camelion, Garter Snake
- Mammals: Mice, Opposum, Humans
- Fish: Arowana, Oscar Fish
- Amphibians: Tree Frog, Common Toad
This article is part of our huge set of information about cockroaches.
Insects and Arachnids That Eat Cockroaches
Insects don’t shy away from preying on other insects. The world of bugs is full of predators searching for their next meal.
Because insects and spiders seek the same food and water sources, there’s ample opportunity for predation.
Here are some of the bugs most likely to eat cockroaches.
1. Common House Spider
The common house spider has one of the most unoriginal names in the animal kingdom but this prevalent household critter is more helpful than you think. Common house spiders prey on cockroaches.
The common house spider only grows to around a quarter of an inch long. Meaning they don’t often eat full-grown roaches.
Instead, they’re more likely to capture and consume a cockroach before it reaches its adult size. And they use their web to catch and immobilize their roach prey.
Learn about 8 types of common house spiders.
2. Wolf Spiders
Large arachnids are notorious for eating cockroaches. Wolf spiders are one of the largest spider species in the United States. Wolf spiders are named for the unique way they hunt.
Instead of spinning webs to catch prey, they pounce from above.
Cockroaches hunted by wolf spiders are ambushed from above and quickly paralyzed by venom.
Wolf spiders are frequently found indoors where they have ample access to cockroaches for hunting.
Learn the difference between wolf spiders and brown recluse spiders.
3. Jumping Spider
Much like the wolf spider, jumping spiders don’t rely on their webs to catch their lunch.
Jumping spiders are fast and strong enough to ambush and eat cockroaches.
4. Cockroach Wasp
The Cockroach Wasp, also known as the Jewel Wasp, is one of the only species of insects that rely solely on cockroaches to complete their life cycle.
You won’t find these solitary wasps building nests on the eaves of your house. Instead, they use the body of cockroaches to create a living nest.
Cockroach wasps hunt specifically for adult cockroaches. When they find one, they deliver a paralytic sting. The wasp then lays its eggs inside of the roach’s body. As the eggs hatch, the larvae use the cockroach as a home and food source.
5. Praying Mantis
One of the most adept hunters of the insect world is the Praying Mantis. Cockroaches may seem fast to us, but they’re no match for the lightning-quick movements a mantis can make.
Praying Mantises are ambush predators that stand perfectly still until their prey comes within striking distance.
Birds That Eat Cockroaches
Birds rely on a high-calorie and nutrient-dense diet of insects to fuel their fast metabolism. Many species of birds will eat cockroaches.
Because cockroaches tend to live inside buildings and sheltered areas, they aren’t the preferred meal for most birds.
Anyone who has owned a chicken knows that they are a bug’s worst nightmare. Chickens are opportunistic eaters that will take a chance on eating anything that moves, including cockroaches.
A chicken may not actively hunt cockroaches, but they won’t pass one up if they spot them while foraging. Chickens derive a lot of nutrients from insects.
The backyard chicken movement even touts pest control as one of the benefits of owning these flightless birds.
2. American Robin
The American robin is one of the most beloved birds in the U.S. Their striking coloring and lovely song make them popular among birdwatchers everywhere.
Most people don’t know about an added perk that these birds bring. American robins will forage for cockroaches.
Birds, including the American robin, are not very discriminatory about the insects they eat. Because most roaches live indoors, they’re safe from overhead predators. But if a roach is unlucky enough to encounter a robin outside, it’s likely to become a meal.
Most of us think of parrots as the brightly colored pets we encounter in homes or zoos. The truth is, that parrots are an important part of the tropical world’s ecosystem.
The curved beak of parrots isn’t just for cracking seeds. Parrots are omnivorous birds that won’t hesitate to eat a cockroach.
Reptiles That Eat Cockroaches
In the wild, reptiles are one of the most common cockroach predators. The combination of camouflage, fast reflexes, and sharp vision make reptiles impressive insect hunters.
Take a look at these reptiles that are known for eating cockroaches:
Only a select few animals eat cockroaches as one of their primary food sources. The tropical house gecko is one of them. For the most part, geckos target non-flying insects for their prey.
The small reptile uses its sharp eyesight and sticky tongue to capture roaches.
2. Veiled Chameleons
The swiveling eyes and stealth movement of veiled chameleons make them a dangerous predator to cockroaches. The veiled chameleon is native to wooded areas of the Middle East.
Chameleons are ambush predators who camouflage with their environment. They sit perfectly still as they eye their prey.
Once the unfortunate cockroach comes within range, chameleons use their sticky tongues to secure their meal.
3. Garter Snakes
Garter snakes are a smaller species of snake that loves to lurk in gardens and around homes. Because of their petite size, Garters are known for being excellent pest control.
Adult Garter snakes feed on mice and amphibians, but young garters are known to eat cockroaches.
Mammals That Eat Cockroaches
Mammals aren’t well known for eating cockroaches. Most species of mammals have a difficult time digesting the hardy exoskeleton of a cockroach.
There are a few exceptions that will feed on a roach if given the opportunity.
Mice might be one of the most unwelcome visitors you can find in your home. But these destructive little creatures aren’t just looking to raid your pantry.
Mice hunt and eat cockroaches. Since they live inside walls and under floors, they share a habitat with cockroaches.
Their proximity to cockroaches makes the roach a staple of a mouse’s diet.
These nocturnal hunters are notorious for eating unwanted insects of all kinds. An opossum may have an intimidating look, but they are primarily scavengers. Opossums are found in many of the same places you would find cockroaches.
The fact that both opossum and cockroaches feed in the same places at night makes their paths likely to cross. As opportunistic eaters, an opossum will never pass up the opportunity to eat a roach.
While not the most common insect eaten by humans, cockroaches still make the menu.
Are bugs and insects the same? Here are 3 key differences.
Fish That Eat Cockroaches
Fish are not a natural predator of cockroaches. A cockroach is not an amphibious bug. They tend to stick to land. In the wild, there aren’t many opportunities for fish to eat cockroaches.
Domestically, cockroaches have become a source of food for fish kept in tanks.
Cockroaches are easy to farm and are nutrient-dense. This makes them a great resource to feed top-feeding fish.
The Arowana fish is native to Asia. These impressive fish have long bodies with large iridescent scales. Arowana has a mouth positioned upward toward the surface of the water.
The placement of their mouth makes it easy for them to snatch insects from the water’s surface. Arowanas in captivity are fed cockroaches to meet their dietary needs.
2. Oscar Fish
This fish is another favorite of home aquarium enthusiasts. Oscars are omnivorous fish that have sharp teeth and strong jaws.
In the wild, Oscars will actively hunt for bugs that land on the surface. In captivity, an Oscar will eat any cockroaches that are placed in their tank.
Amphibians That Eat Cockroaches
Amphibians are possibly the number one most recognized predator of insects. Frogs and toads are carnivorous as adults. They have to consume a significant number of insects regularly to stay alive.
1. Tree Frog
Tree frogs use their sticky appendages to wander up walls and trees in search of their prey. In forests full of detritus and rotting wood, a tree frog will make a meal out of any cockroach they come across.
2. Common Toad
A common toad is a gardener’s best friend. The appetite of a common toad knows no bounds. These insatiable amphibians eat all kinds of harmful pests. Common toads are often found close to homes. They regularly use their long sticky tongues to catch and eat cockroaches.
Cockroaches are industrious creatures that are often viewed as pests. In reality, roaches are an important part of the ecosystem that provides food for a variety of animals.
While we may struggle to get rid of a cockroach infestation, animals from all over the animal kingdom look at a cockroach as nothing more than their next meal.
- About the Author
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Bryan Haines is a co-founder and writer at The Buginator. And is working to make it the best resource for taking back the outdoors from biting, stinging pests.
He also blogs about travel at Storyteller.Travel and photography at GudPixel. Bryan is a partner at Storyteller Media, a publishing company he runs with his wife, Dena.