There are about 3,000 cockroach species, about 50 of which can be found in the United States. Three of the most common roaches in the U.S. are the German cockroach, the American cockroach and the brownbanded cockroach. These species eat just about anything, whether it's other insects, fruits and vegetables, or garbage. But roaches are most attracted to starches, sweets, greasy food and meat products.
Foods That Attract Cockroaches
Cockroaches are omnivores. Although they can survive several months without food, roaches will eat anything that has nutritional value. They are especially attracted to starch, sugar, grease, meat and cheese. Decaying food items are particularly delicious for a hungry roach in search of his next meal. These household pests are often attracted to very strong smells, such as garbage or compost, but can quickly find small crumbs or a drop of grease.
Household Items That Attract Cockroaches
In times of an organic food shortage, cockroaches will eat household items, such as book bindings, cardboard, toothpaste, leather, glue, paper scraps, solid soaps, starch-based paints and wallpaper, dried human skin flakes and nylon clothing. These insects have a digestive tract with a variety of protozoa and bacteria that allows them to feast on non-food items.
Natural Cockroach Diet
When in the absence of humans, cockroaches will eat plants, other insects, decaying matter, animal feces, dead trees and dead bodies. They will occasionally resort to cannibalism, eating their own young, other roaches or the bodies of their deceased comrades. Cockroaches are the world's oldest pests. Scientists at the Imperial College London in 2010 discovered that one ancestor of modern cockroaches lived 300 million years ago, which predates the age of dinosaurs. Their ability to consume both organic and non-food items has helped these insects survive for millennia.
Preventing a Roach Infestation
To prevent a roach infestation, store all food items in sealed containers and make sure to wipe down any surfaces that have come in contact with food. Clean dirty dishes immediately and make sure to keep the area clean and dry. Cockroaches live in dark, moist environments, so fix any leaky faucets and pipes and make sure there is no damp or rotting wood in your home or business. Eliminate all moisture, and periodically check crawlspaces for roaches.
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