Cockroaches, being one of the most protein-rich insects, unsurprisingly fall into the category of the most sought-after prey in the ecosystem- primary consumers. But, what animals eat cockroaches?
They can be eaten by any organism that ranks above them in the ecological food chain such as birds, amphibians, and other bigger insects. This implies that they play an important role in providing some nutrients that help sustain the energy cycle.
Natural Predators of Roaches
Natural predators of cockroaches include a wide class of animals and organisms like reptiles, fungi, and even other insects.
Rodents too, such as rats and possums are widely known to be versatile in their eating habits. They can eat grains and vegetables, but also include bugs like cockroaches in their diet because of their rich protein content.
Pets like cats and dogs also have a propensity to chase (and sometimes kill) cockroaches if they find them around the home. While they do, it is only in rare cases that they eat it. Regardless, it makes them predators still. Along with this, in many places of the world, humans eat cockroaches as well.
Do Frogs Eat Cockroaches?
Yes, frogs eat cockroaches. Frogs and toads could pass for one of the biggest predators of cockroaches in the wild. They kill roaches by reaching out to them with their long, sticky tongue, before crushing them with their strong jaws. Because both frogs and cockroaches love warm and moist environments, they frequently encounter each other.
American frogs mostly feed on cockroaches that are found in backyards because they like to live in areas with good shelter and sources of water. Since they are natural predators, if you can find a way that encourages them to live in a cockroach-infested area, they will effectively deal with them.
Do Lizards Eat Cockroaches?
Yes, lizards eat cockroaches. Roaches constitute an essential dietary component for a variety of lizards. Panther chameleons, mostly found in the tropics tend to find the Madagascar hissing cockroaches a personal favorite mostly because they are both found in similar kinds of environments.
Bearded dragons also tend to feed on cockroaches too. They are popular pet lizards that have very huge appetites given their body masses, so their owners often breed the roaches that they feed to the lizards specially, so that they never have any shortage of it. Common species that the bearded dragons eat are the Dubian and Madagascan cockroaches.
Monitor Lizards on the other hand often eat only the biggest species of cockroaches. Given their size (up to three feet), only roaches of at least three inches such as the Megaloblatta longipennis (which can grow up to four inches) is likely to draw their attention.
Do Praying Mantis Eat Cockroaches?
Yes, praying mantises eat cockroaches. In fact, generally speaking, they are carnivorous, which means that they can feed on other insects. Despite their similar size, praying mantises have stronger exoskeletons, and can crush them with it. They attack through ambushes and use their strong limbs to pin them down before killing them with their teeth.
However, if you keep a pet praying mantis, it is advisable to feed it with smaller insects because their victory with bigger insects like cockroaches is usually takes a struggle.
Do Crickets Eat Cockroaches?
Yes, crickets can eat cockroaches. They are omnivorous, which makes them open to eating a wide variety of things, including insects. But unfortunately, since crickets tend to live in grassy areas, cockroaches are hard to come by.
Do Spiders Eat Cockroaches?
Yes, larger species of spider will eat cockroaches such as the huntsman spider and other hunter and trapdoor species of spider.
Aside from crickets and praying mantes, insects such as the huntsman spider also eat cockroaches. They tend to prey on the roaches when they find them in confined spaces. Fire ants and black sugar ants are also known to attack cockroaches. Other insects that prey on cockroaches include large species of beetles and parasitoid wasps.
The emerald cockroach wasp also preys on cockroaches. It kills the cockroach by injecting its venom into the cockroaches’ body which immediately attacks its nervous system. It then drags the partially conscious cockroach into its nest where the females lay their eggs. The cockroaches’ carcass provides habitation, warmth, protection to the eggs, and that parasitic relationship continues even after they hatch into nymphs, where they feed on the cockroaches’ remains.
Entomopathogenic fungi can also feed on cockroaches in a parasitic manner. They can grow within the cockroaches’ body which will slowly break down their body cells and kill them over a period of weeks.
Do Birds Eat Cockroaches?
Birds that eat bugs are known as insectivores. Some examples of cockroach-eating birds are babblers, malkohas, and jungle fowls. Although they feed on seeds and plants too, cockroach diets help with their protein deficit.
Unfortunately, some of these cockroach-eating birds rarely get a chance to feast on them due to their nocturnal habit. Birds on the other hand are only active during the day.
Perhaps if the cockroaches lived more out in the open, and not inside cupboards in homes, birds would have more than enough opportunity to feed on them consistently.
In aviaries, cockroaches can be fed to bug-eating birds, which are cheaper than crickets and other alternatives when it comes to breeding. It is advisable to keep away roaches purchased directly from the supplier for a week or two before feeding them to the birds. The roaches should be fattened during that period by being fed with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Final Thoughts On Animals That Eat Roaches
The natural predators of cockroaches have their different ways of capturing and feeding on them. From reptiles to insects and fungi, we see how each of them can uniquely digest its nutrients.
Even pets like cats and dogs aren’t left out, cats love to kill cockroaches (even if they don’t eat them). For pet lizards such as geckos and iguanas, roaches such as the Dubian, smoky brown, and Madagascan are often seen as a staple food.
Other lizards that eat cockroaches are monitor lizards, chameleons, and bearded dragons. Aside from these, a certain number of insects feed on cockroach eggs. They locate the areas where these eggs have been laid and carefully tear out the eggs from their case. Small snakes such as green snakes that can survive on eating insects also feed on cockroaches.
Either way, you shouldn’t be relying on roach predators to take care of your roach infestation, visit our guide on quick ways to get rid of roaches.