What Eats Cockroaches?
To humans, cockroaches might seem disgusting, but to many animal species, they look yummy. If you were wondering Do cockroaches have natural predators, the answer is yes! As a matter of fact, they’re basically at the bottom of the food chain. But do you know what eats cockroaches in the wild? And how about inside your household?
What Eats Cockroaches in Nature
Being at the bottom of the food chain, cockroaches have many natural predators. It is actually quite rare for a cockroach in the wild to die of natural causes – most of them fall prey to another animal before they reach old age. In general, there are four major groups of animals that feed on cockroaches:
- Other insects.
Amphibians: Do Frogs Eat Cockroaches?
Amphibians are the cockroach’s main predator. For the most part, this includes frogs and toads. Many species of frogs can be commonly found in the United States. Most of them live near ponds and other bodies of water, which also happens to be the preferred habitat of various species of cockroaches.
Do toads eat cockroaches? Toads are very similar to frogs and can be distinguished by dry, bumpier skin and shorter legs. Like frogs, they enjoy eating insects – including cockroaches. If you’d like to protect your house from a cockroach infestation by attracting frogs and toads, you can do so by creating a small shaded pond in your backyard.
Reptiles: Do Lizards Eat Cockroaches?
Although not all species of lizards eat cockroaches, there certainly are those that do. Bearded dragons, panther chameleons, and leopard geckos, for example, are cockroaches’ natural predators.
Snakes are another type of reptile that eats cockroaches. Of course, this doesn’t apply to all snake species, but those snakes that are large enough to devour a cockroach and small enough to survive on an insect-based diet usually won’t avoid such an item on their menu.
Mammals: Which Mammals Eat Cockroaches?
Many different types of mammals include roaches in their diet. Opossums (not to be confused with the European possum), for example, eat a wide variety of foods, including bugs. The list of mammals that eat roaches also includes rats and raccoons, neither of which are exactly known for being picky eaters.
Which Other Insects Eat Cockroaches?
Aside from larger animals, such as snakes, frogs, and opossums, other insects occasionally feed on cockroaches, too. In fact, some of the cockroach’s most common predators in the wild are other insects and arachnids. For example, some beetle species (such as ground and checkered beetles) are predators (meaning that they hunt for food) and will occasionally hunt cockroaches.
One type of wasp, known as the emerald cockroach wasp, even got its name after its favorite prey – roaches. It may come as a surprise that the wasp is significantly smaller than the average cockroach, but that doesn’t stop it from hunting it down. However, the adult emerald wasp doesn’t just feed on the cockroach it catches – it also uses it as a nest. The wasp injects a paralyzing venom into the cockroach’s brain, eats certain parts of the bug, and then lays eggs inside its stomach. Once they hatch, the larvae will also feed on the roach, eventually killing it.
On top of this, cockroaches exhibit certain cannibalistic tendencies – they are their own worst enemies. If a colony gets too big for the amount of food it has at its disposal, cockroaches may start killing and eating each other in order to keep the population under control. And even if they don’t kill each other, they still won’t refrain from eating dead roaches, especially if food is scarce.
What Eats Cockroaches Inside a Household
If you’re dealing with an infestation, the information above won’t do much to help you get rid of cockroaches or protect your household. In fact, aside from food, one of the main things that attract roaches to our homes is safety – unless you own a pet, there really aren’t any natural predators for this pest in a home.
However, according to research, almost 70% of American households own at least one pet. But you surely don’t want your feline or canine companion to eat bugs. Although the worst thing about this is usually that it makes our stomachs turn, eating a cockroach can potentially have certain adverse effects on your pet’s health.
My Cat Ate a Cockroach – What Should I Do?
Most insects – including cockroaches, grasshoppers, and others – are generally not considered toxic to cats. However, eating a cockroach can cause irritation in the mouth, throat, and stomach of your pet due to pieces of the bug’s exoskeleton breaking off. Typically, this issue will resolve itself without a need for any medical attention.
But a major problem can arise if the cockroach was infected with parasites or exposed to pesticides. If you saw your cat eat a cockroach and are worried it might get sick, pay close attention to its behavior and look for the following symptoms:
- Diarrhea or constipation,
- Strained breathing,
- Refusing food.
If you notice these or any other unusual changes in your cat’s behavior, it would be a good idea to take it to the vet.
What Should I Do if My Dog Eats a Cockroach?
Although some dogs may get an allergic reaction to a cockroach, that happens very rarely. Besides, much like with cats, cockroaches aren’t toxic to dogs, either. However, bacteria and pesticides can cause adverse side effects, so monitor your dog closely in the days to come for any unusual behaviors. The symptoms to look for are the same ones as with cats.
Getting Rid of Cockroaches in Your Home
If you have a cockroach infestation in your home, it’s best to act quickly and not leave anything to chance. Although there are many home remedies and store-bought solutions to this issue, the quickest, safest, and most effective way to get rid of cockroaches is to call professionals. Licensed exterminators have all the needed tools and skills for killing cockroaches and ensuring that the problem doesn’t reoccur.