Do Cockroaches Eat Paper? I was Shocked !

Cockroaches are fascinating insects that almost eat everything but Do cockroaches eat paper? In this article, we will find an answer to this question.

If you want to learn fascinating and compelling things about cockroaches, you are in the right place. As I have mentioned, all the interesting facts about the diet of cockroaches.

I am one of the fans of bugs and have some exciting bugs at home. Therefore I love to gain information and spread this knowledge among people.

Do you want to add something to your previous knowledge about cockroaches? If it is so, then what are you waiting for? Let’s begin without further delay, as there is much more to discover.

Do Cockroaches Eat Paper?

Cockroaches are known to eat everything that humans eat, like fats, sugars, and proteins, but they also eat some weird and strange things because their main goal is to utilize nutrients to grow and remain healthy. To achieve this goal, they also eat paper. Cockroaches can eat carbohydrates, including polysaccharides, consuming paper to get cellulose.

Moreover, cockroaches have secretions containing essential enzymes that can break cellulose in paper and convert it into an absorbable form.

Cellulose in the paper provides energy to cockroaches used in their body movements and reactions.

What Do Cockroaches Eat?

There are a variety of foods that roaches can eat. They can eat almost every edible food for humans; therefore, feeding a roach is not a big deal. 

However, like humans, some foods roaches love to eat, such as foods containing sugar, starch, and protein, like meat, desserts, and sweets.

I experimented with checking the preferences of roaches in their diet. 

I concluded that roaches become mad at carrots and beets. In addition, they also feed on potatoes as potatoes are a healthy and nutritious food for them. 

Potatoes are also included in the preference list of cockroaches, and the reason is the amount of starch in them. 

Along with vegetables, they can also go for fruits. Feeding fruits to your roach pet is a good choice if you are concerned with their health.

Besides, they love bananas, apples, and a group of citrus fruits.

What Do Cockroaches Eat That Humans Don’t?

We have seen that roaches eat different foods depending on the availability of particular food and their liking but what if they don’t have food? 

So, yes, you are right; they start adapting mechanisms, but before that, some alternatives roaches use to feed themselves in the absence of food. 

  • As I have mentioned above, roaches also love protein. Protein is not only present in foods; our nails and hair are also made of a protein known as keratin, so roaches attract human hair
  • In addition, if there is a food shortage for roaches, they can also eat the skeleton of an already dead roach or a relatively weaker roach.
  • During an experiment, I found that female roaches use their eggs as food during shortages. 
  • Moreover, roaches can also eat cellulose which is found in plants and wood. 
  • Paper is also made of wood containing cellulose; roaches can also use paper for food.

So it is bad news because if you think of blocking their food supply to get rid of them, it will not work as roaches have a backup plan.

Why Do Cockroaches Consume Paper?

In terms of food, there are a wide variety of choices for cockroaches; they can eat almost everything that humans can eat and even those foods which are inedible to humans.

One of those items that humans can’t eat is paper. Cockroaches can even consume paper, and I am sure that you want to know the reason behind this.

The main reason for eating paper is already known, and that is survival. Cockroaches are living organisms, and just like other living organisms, they rely on food and water for their living.

Food means nutrients, so we can say that cockroaches need nutrients for their survival and the body’s normal functioning. 

The first choice of a cockroach is to feed on edible foods for humans, but when they don’t get these items, they go for other alternatives like paper, wood, paints, etc.

Composition of Paper

Let’s see what the composition of paper is and which substances are included in the paper that attracts cockroaches.

1Cellulose fibers90 to 99 %
2lignin3 to 14%
4Calcium carbonate, clay, titanium oxide0 to 30 %

So paper contains organic and inorganic matter, but cockroaches are attracted to organic matter and digest it while the inorganic part is excreted from their bodies.

There are several products that are made of paper that are also edible for cockroaches because of their organic composition.

How Do Cockroaches Digest Paper?

Digestion of food is related to some enzymes and bacteria. The food we eat is digested in the digestive tract, including the mouth, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine.

Some specific secretions in the digestive tract include the digesting enzymes, and these digesting enzymes are fixed for the digestion of specific nutrients.

Similarly, many bacteria are also present in our large intestines that perform their function by decomposing large compounds into smaller ones to digest them.

This is the reason why we can’t eat papers and other toxic materials that a cockroach can consume; our digestive system lacks enzymes that can digest substances present in these items.

But, this is not true for the unique digestive system of cockroaches. Cockroaches have certain enzymes and bacteria that can break down complex substances into simpler compounds.

For Example, humans don’t have enzymes that can digest cellulose which is the major component of paper; therefore, we cannot consume paper and wood.

On the other hand, roaches have many bacteria in their digestive tract and can break cellulose into more minor nutrients so that cockroaches can utilize them as energy.

Some species of cockroaches contain a separate group of bacteria that is specified in the breakdown, digestion, and absorption of poisonous compounds, such as American cockroaches.

Here you can ask one more question: why do cockroaches have these bacteria, but humans don’t? The reason is that cockroaches, other insects, and some animals need them.

Cockroaches have to compete to get food and water; they are often stuck in such situations where they have nothing to eat; therefore, they have microorganisms to also digest items such as paper.

Do Roaches Like Paper?

As I have discussed above, cockroaches are omnivores, so they can eat food from plants and animal sources, but they also have some preferences in the selection of food, like humans.

Their preferred foods are all the food items that humans can digest and consume in daily life; therefore, they prefer to take shelter in their homes so that they can get their favorite food.

But what will happen if they cannot access these foods, and what if they cannot enter your house? Will they die? No, but they will go for other alternatives.

Cockroaches consume plants and wood when they are in the wild as they have bacteria that can process cellulose present in plant cell walls and the woods of trees.

On the other hand, if they live in your home, but you have blocked their access to food, they will go for papers which they can find either in your notebook or in newspapers.

As papers are also made of wood containing cellulose, So, if you ever find cockroach leftovers near your books or cardboard, then be alert.

The digestive tract of cockroaches is also capable of digesting glues that they can find on wallpapers.

Moreover, bookbinders also use glue to bind books, so if you have found a cockroach near your book, there may be two reasons for its presence: the papers of your book and that binding glue.

Can Cockroaches Use Paper as their Only Source of Food?

Cockroaches do not entirely depend on one food as there is much more to consume, but what if they have nothing to eat but paper? Will they still survive?

Yes, they will survive, as we all know that the primary source of all living organisms is plants. Animals consume plants in the form of leaves and grass and get all the nutrients for their living.

We humans also have only two sources of food, animal and plant sources; the difference is that we cannot consume these sources in raw form.

As we don’t have the required enzymes and bacteria to digest these sources in their tangible form, therefore, we go for processing and consume the final product as a result of processing.

But cockroaches, other animals, and insects can consume these raw forms and even the process form of plant sources.

From paper, cockroaches get cellulose which is the central part of raw plants; therefore, they can survive by using paper as their food.

How to Get Rid of Cockroaches?

As we have seen, cockroaches can survive on paper, so how can we kick these stubborn insects out of our houses? I have listed some methods which are effective for killing them.

1. Use a Trap

Some traps are available in the market to kill cockroaches, known as glue traps. These traps contain some sticky substances for insects. 

If you put a cockroach in such a trap, the sticky material will trap it and inhibit its movement, which eventually causes the death of a particular cockroach, but what will happen to its egg bag? 

To find this, I experimented on a german roach. First, I bought a trap containing adhesive material and then picked a german roach and dropped it in the trap. 

After three days, the cockroach releases the egg bag, and the baby comes out of it on the second day of releasing the ootheca. 

This means the baby gets all the required conditions inside the ootheca, including a specific hot temperature and moisture. 

The moisture comes from the sticky material or glue. Moreover, the trap is all closed, which creates a hot environment within it that is suitable for eggs to hatch. 

After the baby hatched from the ootheca, the female detached it from her body and died because of a glue trap.

2. Use Poisonous Powder

It is not possible to remove these insects permanently, but there are some effective methods you can use to kill these cockroaches. 

One of these methods is using a poison spray known as roach baits. Roach baits have a tendency to kill cockroaches by acting as a poison for them, although it is a slow process but really effective. 

There are different forms of roach baits available in the market. You can either use it in the form of spray, gel, or powders.

I have used bait powder in my kitchen to get rid of these irritating creatures and found it really helpful, so I will recommend you use bait powder for this purpose.

All you need is to just sprinkle the powder in the corners of your kitchen or bathroom after cleaning it and then wait and watch.

Now let’s come to the point when you use any roach bait to kill a cockroach; the eggs or ootheca also become killed; the reason is the poison in the bait.

 Different baits use particular poison to kill cockroaches. When this poison enters a roach’s body, it also affects the developing baby inside the ootheca and kills it before it is hatched.

3. Using Baking Soda and Sugar

Now it’s time for my favorite method, which is using a boric acid formula with sugar in it. I know you will be curious to know its method of usage so let’s lift up the curtains.

Take boric acid, or you can also use baking soda and mix sugar in it. Boric acid is known as a potential roach killer. This means this remedy not only keeps them away but also kills them.

Cockroaches like sugar, so their leg hairs will send a signal to their brain, which in turn results in a large number of cockroaches coming out of their shelter to get their favorite food.

On eating this mixture, they will experience a loss of connection between their brain and nerves and ultimately die, and the credit goes to our potential killer, the boric acid. 

Evidence of the Presence of Paper-Eating Cockroaches

As you have seen, cockroaches can feed on paper, and if they are doing so, it means that you might have a severe infestation of your house.

A tough competition for survival can force a cockroach to consume paper, so how can you detect that cockroaches are eating paper from your notebooks or documents? Let’s see

  • Presence of dust particles like powder near books.
  • Presence of ootheca.
  • Presence of cockroaches eggs.
  • Presence of exoskeleton near books.
  • Small holes in books or in pages of books
  • Half-torn pages of books.

If you find any of the above-mentioned signs near your book place, it means there may be a German, oriental or American species of cockroaches present in your house.

If you want to protect your books from cockroaches, consider keeping them in dry places that have maximum exposure to light.

Because cockroaches like dark places to hide and wet places to get water for their normal body processes. Therefore they are primarily found in water pipes, bathrooms, holes, and kitchens.

Summarizing Lines:

I hope you got the answer to the question: Do cockroaches eat paper? Actually, cockroaches can eat anything made up of organic substances, and the paper contains all that composition.

Cockroaches can find paper as a good source of food when they don’t find anything to eat. I have answered all the related questions in this blog.

I hope you gain a lot after reading this blog. Keep enhancing your knowledge about cockroaches, as they are exciting insects.


Can Cockroaches Damage Paper?

The paper contains cellulose which is an organic compound, cockroaches naturally feed on organic compounds, and if you have a severe infestation, they can damage your books.

Do Cockroaches Live in Papers?

If you have junk from old books, cockroaches can feed on the pages of these books and can even live there and hide from their predators.

What Will Cockroaches Not Eat?

Cockroaches will not eat inorganic compounds; they also don’t like the odor of bay leaves and peppermint oil. Besides, they also ignore lemons.

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