As of 2021, over 11% of Americans have seen roaches in their homes. While you may associate these nasty pests with unclean habits or big city living, they can appear almost anywhere –and are notoriously difficult to nip in the bud.
If you suspect a roach problem in your own home or rental property, it’s a good idea to invest in a pest control service or exterminator. However, it’s also important to stay educated on these creatures’ living habits so you can prevent your infestation from returning.
Read on to learn more about cockroaches’ survival tactics and how to counteract them .
- Many species of cockroaches can survive up to a month without food .
- Cockroaches can survive for up to a week without water.
- Primary cockroach food sources include leftover human food, crumbs, spills, and other organic matter (i.e. pet food, dead skin, rotting fruit and veggies).
- Secondary cockroach food sources include other household substances like soap, glue, starches, and cardboard.
- To prevent an infestation, keep a cool, clean, dry home and invest in preventative measures (like sealing entry points, sprinkling boric acid, and diffusing essential oils).
How Long Can Cockroaches Survive Without Food?
If you’ve tried to eliminate food sources in your home and are still seeing cockroaches, you might be wondering how long they can survive without food. Since cockroaches are cold-blooded insects, they are able to survive for up to a month without food. Cold-blooded insects and reptiles take on the temperature of their surroundings in order to survive for longer in harsh environments.
How Long Can Cockroaches Survive Without Water?
Roaches can only live without water for up to one week. While it’s nearly impossible to kill cockroaches via starvation (they’ll always find a secondary food source or even resort to cannibalism), it is much harder for them to survive without water. This is why it’s crucial to keep your home cool and dry.
Will Cockroaches Leave If There Is No Food?
Cockroaches will eventually leave the premises in the absence of food. However, it’s nearly impossible to reach this point, as cockroaches can survive for up to a month without food and can scavenge and make a food source out of nearly anything. Sealing off or eliminating food sources may help curb your infestation, but won’t make it go away forever.
What Do Cockroaches Eat in Your Home?
Cockroaches will eat almost anything, but there are some common culprits to look out for in your home.
Main Food Sources
Below are the primary food sources that cockroaches will look for first in your home.
- Leftover or unsealed food
- Liquid spills.
Roaches love sugar, and can survive for a long time off of a single crumb.
- Rotting fruits and vegetables
- Dead insects
- Fingernail clippings, hair, dead skin
- Pet food
Cockroaches will even resort to cannibalism if necessary.
Secondary Food Sources
If your home is cleared of primary food sources, cockroaches will move on to these less delicious meals.
Cardboard and Paper
Cockroaches are happy to feed on cardboard and paper, so it’s important to take out all your trash frequently (not just the food waste). Keep in mind that paper was once organic plant matter as well.
Soap and Toothpaste
Cockroaches feed on soap and toothpaste, so be careful when it comes to leaving soap and other bathroom products exposed in your shower or on your sink. Soap in particular contains fat that sustains cockroaches, and is non-toxic to them.
Cockroaches feast on the glue, cardboard, and paper found in book bindings, so be careful not to keep large stacks of books if you have an infestation.
Glue and Adhesives
Cockroaches will eat glue and adhesive residue, as these substances often come from organic matter and may contain fat or protein to sustain them.
Roaches will not hesitate to eat any form of organic matter, even feces or urine. If you have pets, be sure to keep their areas clean (i.e. if you have a litter box, change the litter frequently).
Preventing a Cockroach Infestation
Cockroach infestations can be hard to kick, but there are steps you can take to keep these nasty bugs at bay. First and foremost, it’s crucial to keep a clean, cool, dry home.
Don’t leave unsealed food out and wipe down kitchen and bathroom surfaces frequently. Inspect any packages that enter your home and wipe your feet on a doormat every time you step inside. Limit dining to one room, keep your sinks dry, and keep food sealed in airtight containers.
As a preventative measure, you may want to cover any holes, cracks, or crevices in your walls, floors, and ceiling with caulk or spackle. Better yet, sprinkle boric acid (a natural roach repellent) near these entry points and pour bleach down your drains frequently. Finally, diffusing certain essential oils with scents that repel cockroaches (such as peppermint or citronella) will help signal these pests to stay away.
You can treat your home yourself with spray products and other insecticides, but ultimately investing in a pest control professional is the best way to ensure your infestation stays away.