Do Roaches Eat Paper?
The simple thought of cockroaches is enough to make anyone squeamish. If you have them, they can be a challenge to eliminate from your home. One of the reasons they are so hard to oust from your home is that they have a varied diet and can survive on almost anything, even paper. Let’s explore the cockroach diet and why they find paper so attractive.
Many people believe that if they eliminate food droppings, garbage, or other food sources, the cockroaches will have nothing to eat and go away. This could not be further from the truth because their varied diet allows them to eat almost anything.
Cockroaches prefer sweets, meat, and starchy foods, but their digestive tracts can process a wide variety of organic matter. If it was once ever a living creature, cockroaches can eat it and use it for food. They can eat many foods that we consider disgusting.
Cockroaches consider some items as food sources that would be harmful to us because of their well-developed microbiome. Like every other animal and us, cockroaches have a symbiotic relationship with some kinds of bacteria in their digestive tract. These bacteria help them digest food and transform it into a form where the nutrients can be absorbed.
Cockroaches have had to survive in challenging environmental conditions throughout their long evolution. This has allowed them to develop a more complex microbiome than ours. Some studies have even found that American cockroaches have an entire genome of bacteria dedicated to metabolizing dangerous or toxic materials. Their bodies have adapted to surviving in harsh conditions and eating whatever food happens to be available.
Why Do Roaches Eat Paper?
Cockroaches are omnivorous scavengers that can consume almost anything organic. They have an incredible ability to digest cellulose in any form. While they prefer other types of food, if there is none available, they will take a bite out of newspapers, documents, cardboard boxes, and bookbindings. They also love the glue on stamps and wallpaper.
Paper begins its life as trees or other plant material. Cockroaches feast on these raw materials as part of their natural diet when living outdoors. When they are in your home, stacks of paper, cardboard, and books provide a cozy, dark hiding place to enjoy a meal. Even if you cannot see the damage, if you see cockroach droppings around your papers or books, you can rest assured that they have taken a small nibble.
Can Cockroaches Survive on Paper?
The American cockroach and many other types of cockroaches feast on twigs, decaying trees, and piles of leaves. The cellulose fibers in paper are close to their natural diet when living outdoors. They will also feed on the droppings of animals and other cockroaches, garbage, dead insects, and decaying carcasses.
The short answer is that, yes, cockroaches can survive on paper because paper begins its life as something they eat in their natural environment. Millions of years of evolution have allowed them to adapt to finding substitutes for what they would eat in the wild in our homes. They will even chew the wood in your home, especially if it is moist or rotten. The moist wood or paper provides roaches with the water they need to survive.
Getting Rid of Roaches Naturally
The varied diet of the cockroach is one of the challenges that makes them so hard to get rid of in our homes. Using natural methods, like diatomaceous earth and boric acid, are effective ways to rid yourself of them over time. You can also use organic baits to eliminate them, like boric acid and sugar. The key is making sure that there is little else around your home to tempt them.
Diatomaceous earth and boric acid are fine powders that can help you get rid of cockroaches. Although they work by different mechanisms, they are powders that you can sprinkle along your baseboards, cupboards, and other areas where cockroaches may hide.
It is important to ensure no piles or visible powder to the naked eye. They will walk around any visible piles that they see.
Diatomaceous earth works when the cockroach walks past, and it sticks to their legs. They will ingest it when they groom themselves. As the DE-covered roach returns to their nesting area, they will spread the powder to many other roaches that will ingest it as they groom themselves. This harms their digestive tract and can cut their exoskeleton, which causes them to dehydrate.
With boric acid they must consume it. That is why mixing a bait that contains boric acid and sugar, honey, or other foods works well. Neither of these methods kills them right away, but they work because they live long enough to take it back to their nest and expose other cockroaches to the substances. This is one way you can take advantage of the natural diet of the cockroach to help rid your home of them.