Do Roaches Eat Bed Bugs? How To Tell if You Have Bed Bugs

Do roaches eat bed bugs cover image

You’ve seen these fast-moving six-legged nocturnal scavengers that love to come out at night and eat whatever they can find. Cockroaches are the uninvited guests that all of us have had. Then we have the more invasive tiny blood-suckers that make your bed their home, trying to get more personal and intolerable. These are bed bugs and they truly are unbearable. So what happens if both these pests are present? Do roaches eat bed bugs and become the savior? Let’s find out.

In this article, you’ll find the answer to the question posed before. Then we’ll explain why it is a bad idea to have roaches are your pest controller. We’ll also look into research published in 1930 that tests whether cockroaches eat bed bugs or not. The results are very interesting. And if they do, what species of cockroach eats what type of bed bug. We’ve also added a list of other insects that enjoy snacking on some bed bugs. Let’s begin.

Yes, roaches do eat beg bugs, but…

Cockroaches eat anything they find. They are omnivorous scavengers meaning that they don’t care about veganism. They’ll eat leftover food, fruits, breadcrumbs, bits of nachos that fall under your couch while you watch TV, other insects, dead skin cells, meat, fish, anything. If they can fit it in their mouth and is chewable, they’ll eat it. 

Fun fact: The scientific name for cockroaches (American cockroach) is Periplaneta americana. The term Periplaneta is used to refer to that these roaches are present all over the planet. And a big reason for this universal presence is they eat anything. I won’t be surprised if they find life on Mars and its cockroaches.

Cockroaches also eat bed bugs and if you find few cockroaches near your mattress or under it, chances are that they are there to snack on some bed bugs (and not to spend some time with you). But this wasn’t well known because of one reason; Cockroaches are scavengers, meaning that they don’t fight and kill other insects, but feed on the dead and decaying. 

The research by A.N Gulati

Research by A.N Gulati in 1930 published in the Nature journal records the experiment to see whether cockroaches do eat bed bugs or not. And the results were interesting. It was found that Periplaneta americana or the American cockroach does eat bed bugs. But not all bed bugs!

The cockroach and bed bugs were kept inside a jar and checked at intervals to see what happens. It turns out that cockroaches only eat younger, softer bed bugs that are easy to consume. They skip the adult bugs with large bodies with hard chitin exoskeleton. American cockroaches do eat bed bugs, but mostly younger, softer ones and rarely the large ones. 

It was also seen that out of the twelve-bed bugs provided, roaches only ate three and then chose to starve. This is interesting in understanding their eating behavior and pest control. You can read the entire research paper here.

Illustration of a cockroach
A Cockroach, in case you wanted to see one

Don’t make cockroaches your pest control

Now that it is established that roaches eat bed bugs, don’t give these roaches a permanent residency in your house. They might eat the bed bugs, but they sure cannot eradicate them. Bed bugs reproduce very quickly. All they do is eat and reproduce. So the cockroaches might get rid of some of these bugs but that’s not enough.

Apart from being bad pest control, cockroaches bring a plethora of other health hazards that might even lead to hospitalization. Cockroaches live inside dark, warm, and humid areas such as sewer and drainage pipes, in the heater room, basement, piping, etc. They also visit dumpsters and other areas where bacteria are the common residents. 

Cockroaches could bring a host of diseases, mostly typhoid, cholera, dysentery, and other gastroenteritis. It is more harm than good and it is better to bring humans for pest control. And cockroaches look disgusting.

Illustration of bed bugs

Bed bugs vs cockroaches; One evil or the other?

Both of these pests are dangerous to you and your family. If you are made to choose between the two, there is no lesser evil here. Both of them are dangerous in their unique way and you should get rid of both of them. Here’s how both differ and cause damage. 

Bed bugs are more integral to your body. These bugs are not scavengers, so they don’t go after scrap food. These bugs are attracted to warm-blooded animals such as humans, dogs, cats, etc. They suck the blood to survive. And since when you are sleeping you are the least mobile and aware, bed bugs are mostly found on beds. But they also live in carpets, cars, chairs, couches. Bed happens to be their favorite spot. 

These bed bugs have a special chemical that numbs the area of skin where they bite. So they can suck the blood out of you without you knowing. And not just one, but tens of them can bite you at the same time. The red spots and swelling later tell you about what happened last night. They can also cause some skin infection and allergic reaction but bed bugs are not known to pass any diseases. 

To catch a bed bug 

It might be a bit tricky to first notice a bed bug infestation and you only realize that these bugs have invaded your home when their numbers grow dangerously large. Here are some telltale signs of a bed bug infestation.

  • Waking up and finding itchy, red skin with swelling. 
  • A sweet, damp smell from the mattress. 
  • Red spots on the mattresses caused by the waste material by the bed bugs.
  • Finding out moving bugs in your mattresses or other furniture.
  • Presence of cockroaches under or around the mattress. 

Cockroaches are shy insects that try and avoid human contact. That’s why you’ll find them mostly at night, in the cover of darkness. Cockroaches can bite but they rarely bite. Cockroach bite can cause redness and irritation. Sometimes even a cockroach walking on your skin can cause itching and irritation.

Illustration of a german cockroach
A German Cockroach. Drives an Audi. Gute Nacht, ich esse alles in deiner Küche

But the damage they do is indirect, not visible directly. Roaches contaminate unprotected food and utensils such as plates, forks, spoon, spork, and fpoon (why not?)

So get pest control if you find any of these pests and let the experts do the job. Oh, almost forgot. Here are some other insects that consume on the flesh of bed bugs:

  • Pharaoh ants 
  • Masked Hunter (cool name)
  • Spiders 
  • Centipedes
  • Cone nosed insects, also called kissing bugs

This concludes the article. Since you are already here, how about spending some more time with us? Read these articles that might interest you:

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