Do Cockroaches Eat Other Cockroaches?

Roach on white powder

Cockroaches never hunt other insects. Instead, they leave their hideouts in search of food. That makes them hard-working pests who don’t rely on others to feed them. However, things can become quite scary in their colonies when food is scarce.

A cockroach eats its colony members only to survive. In fact, an American female cockroach turns into a cannibal while mating. But that’s a rare case.

So, keep reading this article to learn more about the cockroaches’ cannibalistic traits.

Do Cockroaches Eat Their Family Members?

Cockroaches eat their family members and are known cannibals. However, doing so is never a priority or instinct. They are not hunters but scavengers who search for food rather than killing other insects. Cockroaches only consume their fellows when food sources are scarce.

Some wild roach species eat:

  • Decaying leaf
  • Wood
  • Rotten fruits and vegetables
  • Dead bodies of animals and insects

On the other hand, the house roaches feed on:

  • Leftover food
  • Garbage
  • Organic waste (hair, feces, etc.)

Eating other family members also keeps a nice balance in the ecosystem. Since around 2.8 trillion cockroaches are living on earth right now, cannibalism is one way the roach population is somehow controlled.

Why Do Cockroaches Cannibalize?

Cockroaches cannibalize because of various reasons. You might never know why a cockroach eats another of its species, but here are 4 common reasons they do so:


These pests live in colonies and create nests in suitable locations. Their population exponentially increases once they settle. In fact, the house roaches or the German cockroaches can produce a generation within 100 days. That means you can find a new colony of these pests if you give them liberty for 100 days.

Inside a colony, these insects live like a family. Youngs, adults, males, females, strong and weak, live without discrimination. These tiny bugs also leave scent trails that attract other homeless roaches to join their clan. That way, their colony grows with hundreds of roaches.

However, the real problem begins when they become overpopulated. In that situation, roaches don’t have enough access to:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter

As the young ones turn into elders, they start occupying bigger spaces and looking for more food. Naturally, that increases the daily nutritional requirement for the whole colony. As a result, cockroaches run out of food, water, and space.

That’s when the stronger ones dominate the weaker ones by killing them and eating their corpses. This in-house chaos keeps happening until they reach a point of stability where everyone has their own space, enough food, and water.

That’s why you sometimes find the limbs and wings of cockroaches when you demolish their abode.

No Food

Sometimes cockroaches occupy a large area with big empty spaces. They have a lot of room to grow and play around. Despite living in such a big area, they may lack food and water resources.

Imagine a colony of roaches living in a kitchen. They find food deposits every day and fulfill their nutritional requirements. But what if the family plans to move? The kitchen will remain abandoned until someone else starts living in the house.

That’s when cockroaches begin to suffer because no humans living in a house means no cooking. As a reaction, cockroaches will:

  • Come out of their holes in search of food
  • Go to a dangerous territory untouched by roaches before
  • Cannibalize out of unsatiated hunger

If you see a cockroach trying to enter your room for the first time, understand that it’s desperate due to a lack of food. Otherwise, a roach will never try to risk its life just for exploration and fun.

So when the hunger reaches a threshold, cockroaches eat their colony members to live and breed more of them.


Cockroaches are cold-blooded organisms, which means they can’t produce their own heat. Instead, their bodies adjust to the external temperature to a particular extent. Yet, they don’t get along with cold temperatures.

You might have seen how weak these pests look in winter. They no longer remain nimble just like they used to at average temperatures.

You can easily take out a roach with a single blow when it’s cold. However, that attempt is most likely a critical hit because cockroaches get slow due to a temperature drop and become an easy target.

In addition, their metabolism slows down due to a lack of energy. Since every insect needs warmth for its existence, a roach also looks for a warm place to stay.

When its abode doesn’t have enough thermal energy to survive, they tend to look out for more food. That’s when cannibalism remains the only option when there is no source of energy but the cockroaches themselves.

They eat their dead ones, sometimes kill, and then devour them to get enough energy to survive in cold climates.


Cockroaches are amazing yet bizarre creatures because they:

  • Eat decaying organic matter and give back nitrogen to the soil
  • Can eat almost anything
  • Enjoy post-coital cannibalism

The last one seems a bit disturbing, doesn’t it? Like spiders, cockroaches also practice similar habits of eating their partner while mating. But why do they do that?

A species of cockroaches, salganea taiwanensis, eat each other’s wings after mating. A wingless cockroach might look like a unique species, but it doesn’t lose a pinch of flesh during post-intercourse cannibalism. It’s their instinct.

It’s a mutual feeding session, unlike spiders, where the female devours the males to complete their nutritional bar. But there’s a rare case in cockroaches where the female eats the male while copulating.

The reason is the same: to consume enough food for the mother and her babies.

Although many female cockroaches don’t have a womb to carry the young ones, they lay an ootheca having up to 40 eggs. When the mother feels hungry and lacks enough food, she doesn’t hesitate to eat their partners while mating.

How Do Cockroaches Taste Like?

Cockroaches’ taste depends on what breed they belong to and what food they eat. According to research:

  • The Dubia roach, a Central and South American native, tastes like blue cheese.
  • The German or the house roach has a bland taste with a nasty crunch.
  • A cockroach can taste like anything, just like it eats almost anything.

We all know that cockroaches are never welcomed on our dining tables, whether dead or alive. However, some cultures consider eating roaches a legitimate activity.

Unlike grasshoppers, cockroaches never soften if you cook them. Instead, they remain crunchy at the last chew your jaws make.

In Asian restaurants where eating almost all kinds of insects and animals holds significant value, you can try a fried cockroach served with cocktail sauce. But remember that before getting fried, this bug ran from one gutter to the next.

Many people shared their cockroach-eating experiences and said that this insect varies in taste. It’s because a cockroach eats almost anything, making its metabolism versatile. Its stomach is ready to accept anything that comes from the mouth.

That’s why blending such diverse stuff inside the roach’s belly can produce a random taste for human taste buds.

What Nutrients Does Cockroach Meat Have?

Cockroach meat has essential nutrients which actually keep other insects alive. A study shows that cockroaches contain:

  • Protein Crystals. A rare breed of cockroaches produces this milk. It has more energy than cow’s milk.
  • Amino Acids. The amino acids repair muscles.
  • Carbohydrates. They are the source of energy for the body.
  • Fiber. Fiber helps sugar regulation and keeps a check on sugar level and hunger.
  • Crude Ash. The daily mineral intake in our routine diet.

All the nutritional value of cockroaches is not too much except for the milk.

Diploptera punctata is one the species which gives birth to its baby cockroach. The mother then produces milk due to this unconventional way of reproducing in the cockroach colony. The milk is in crystalline protein form, which is the only source of food for the newborn.

This food for the baby cockroach might be the next superfood as it has more nutritional value than traditional mammalian milk.

But it’s still too early to consider these protein crystals a dairy product because they come from nasty cockroaches. The research is still underway, and these crystals are only food for baby cockroaches.

Do Cockroaches Carry Poison?

Cockroaches don’t carry poison. But the pathogens inside their bodies can cause food poisoning if you don’t properly cook them. So if you are unusually craving a cockroach for dinner, make sure you give it good cooking time before devouring it.

You can prepare a cockroach in the following ways:

  • Fried
  • Boiled
  • Barbecued

Since cockroaches are rich in protein, soldiers of WW2 used to fulfill their nutritional needs by relying on these pests.

Cockroaches are no doubt famous for carrying diseases. They contaminate our food by just touching it. You can always find them running around the dirtiest corners, including:

  • Sewerage
  • Sink’s bottom
  • Bathroom

Despite having such a bad reputation, there’s still no evidence that proves that eating an adequately cooked cockroach makes you ill.

Do Cockroaches Eat Other Insects?

Yes and no. Cockroaches eat other insects, but that depends on whether you consider bugs and insects the same organisms.

Some roaches kill and eat bugs like bed bugs and their eggs. They also devour their dead ones, keeping a nice balance in the environment.

If cockroaches don’t get enough food, their metabolism begins to slow. So they activate their survival mode, which is how they live almost a month without food, by only keeping their basic functions active.

Furthermore, cockroaches’ favorite meals vary from species to species. For example:

  • Papers. Cockroaches’ digestive system can easily process cellulose. Therefore, papers, book covers, magazines, and cardboard are no problem for the roaches to consume.
  • Plants. They can eat decaying organic stuff like plants. No other animal or insect thinks of eating such matter.
  • Dead Skin. Your nails, hair, and even shredded skin make a good menu for cockroaches.
  • Insects. Cockroaches eat other insects and their colony members, dead or alive.

Do Roaches Eat Their Own Poop?

Roaches rarely eat their own poop because it barely fulfills their nutritional requirement. However, their feces contain a valuable chemical for tracking their location.

Most of the time, you might have seen a group of roaches on a pile of animal manure. Although they look like they are partying there, that’s usually not the case.

Cockroaches leave their hideouts in two cases:

  • When they sense danger is approaching
  • No water available
  • Lack of food

When cockroaches find their surroundings clean, that’s when they feel most desperate. It’s because cleanliness takes away their meal from the countertop and the floor.

In case of no food, they struggle and take risks to keep their bellies full. That’s when cockroaches decide to eat excretory material of humans, rodents, and even insects like themselves.

Therefore, keeping your home clean is the best way to keep the roaches away. They’ll start killing and eating each other when they don’t find food.

How To Get Rid of Cockroaches?

If you see dead roach bodies lying in your home, you need to do something on your own. It’s evident that roaches are not eating their fellows as fast as they should.

Here are 3 easy techniques to eliminate roaches:

Repair Cracks and Gaps

Cockroaches get into your house through tiny holes like cracks in the wall or pipe. Their little bodies are compressible, so they can easily squeeze themselves and pass through tight spaces.

So, fix the repair work in your house at the earliest and block all their possible entrances.

Reduce Moisture

Dark and moisturized spaces attract cockroaches. That’s why you see them close to pipelines and faucets. If you see any leaking plumbing work, fix that and keep the area dry.

That’s not limited to your house but in your yard as well. Cockroaches find a way to your home through pipelines. After all, traveling and living in the dark is their biggest adventure.

Use Insecticide

Killing cockroaches one by one is stupidity. It only attracts more of them instead of reducing their numbers. Therefore, use an insecticide to kill them altogether.

Plant-based insecticides are pretty effective against the cockroach army. The roaches instantly die once they get in contact with a plant-based insecticide.


Do Roaches Eat Each Other Alive?

Yes, roaches eat each other alive. That level of cannibalism is in American female cockroaches and is for survival purposes. The female bug eats its partner during copulation.

Do Cockroaches Fight and Eat Other Cockroaches?

Yes, cockroaches fight and eat other cockroaches when:

  • There is overpopulation in their colony
  • The temperature drops
  • There is a lack of food

What Insects Eat Cockroaches?

The following insects kill and eat cockroaches:

  • Lizards
  • Geckos
  • Spiders
  • Centipedes

Moreover, rodents like rats and mice feed on cockroaches. So if you constantly find dead body parts without the complete corpse of cockroaches, that’s a sign of an infestation.


Cockroaches are scavenger pests that don’t kill other insects. They fulfill their nutritional needs by eating almost anything. They may eat other roaches when:

  • There is not enough food around
  • They are mating
  • Their population increases
  • The climate becomes unfavorable

Hunger is the only reason which makes them cannibals. It is also an easy way to balance the colony’s population.