can cockroaches chew through foil?

Can Roaches Eat Through Aluminum Foil?

Cockroaches are insidious creatures, known for getting into anything. If there is food or trash lying around, they will find it. That’s probably why you wrap up leftover food or ingredients in aluminum foil. We like to think that the bars access to roaches, lets the food breathe a little, and allows you to keep it on kitchen counters.

Roaches can chew through aluminum foil. Their powerful mandibles will let them rip the thin metal without much effort. Tin foil may be slightly thicker, but it will still tear under roach jaws. You can’t trust the reflective nature of foil to scare off roaches either. While these insects won’t purposefully eat aluminum foil, they have no problem biting through to access food.

Never place food out in the open, where roaches can get it. Even a tightly wrapped bundle of foil isn’t air-tight. This can let food scents drift out and attract roaches. Instead, put food in glass, thick plastic, or thick metal. If you prefer aluminum foil, then be sure to wrap your food multiple times.

Can Cockroaches Chew Through Foil?

Cockroaches are able to eat through foil. That’s because aluminum is a very thin, flimsy metal. When it’s used as foil, this is intentional, so people can easily mold it around their food to preserve it. You can easily tear this foil by hand or by accident, should you brush it against another object.

Cockroaches do not have teeth, but their mandibles are very sharp and strong. This allows them to chew through soft plastics, like bread bags. The foil around your food is no more resilient. It won’t take more than a few minutes for a roach to bite through.

Can Aluminum Foil Attract Cockroaches?

Cockroaches are not immediately drawn to aluminum foil. The material itself plays no factor in whether or not the insect will pursue your food. However, cockroaches are drawn by scent. Aluminum foil, even when tightly wrapped around your food, does not always create an airtight seal. This will allow odors from your leftovers to drift out into the open air.

Cockroaches and their impressive sense of smell will then detect these alluring aromas. This may draw them to your counters, tables, or even to your refrigerator. Once there, they can then eat through the foil and gain access to your food. That’s not only gross, but dangerous. According to the peer-reviewed journal, Pest Control, roaches can spread enough bacteria and disease to be “a serious health hazard.”

Do Cockroaches Like Aluminum Foil?

Cockroaches do not like or dislike the flavor of aluminum foil. They won’t purposefully try to eat it if they have other food. Likewise, they won’t avoid it if chewing through the thin metal means they’ll gain access to real food.

That’s because aluminum foil is composed of metal. Roaches eat organic matter of every kind, from hair to skin flakes and even paint. However, metal like aluminum is not considered organic. Cockroaches can’t gain any nutrients from eating it. Roaches will know that after the first bite.

That doesn’t mean it drives them away, though. Cockroaches may eat aluminum foil as they try to work their way to real food. They may also tear it to create an opening. Once they’ve accomplished that, they’re likely to just ignore the foil.

Does Aluminum Foil Scare Cockroaches?

There is a somewhat widely-held myth that cockroaches are afraid of aluminum foil. Supposedly, that’s because:

  • It catches light, which can shine on the roach or create a mild flash, scaring the bug.
  • Cockroaches can see their reflection, which startles them.

This leads some to believe that aluminum foil can be used as a roach deterrent. You can supposedly place it at key areas around your home to frighten roaches, like reflective tape is used against birds. It’s also (allegedly) the best thing to wrap food in to scare away roaches. 

No matter the reason behind it, this is a myth. Cockroaches are not scared of aluminum foil and won’t be deterred by its presence.

It’s unknown if cockroaches are able to recognize their own reflection. If they could, though, roaches are used to living in well-populated colonies and are not scared by the presence of other roaches. Likewise, cockroaches are more likely to be scared by a kitchen light flicking on – not the way foil reflects it.

can cockroaches eat through tin foil?

Can Cockroaches Eat Through Tin Foil?

You may think tin foil and aluminum foil are interchangeable. However, as the name implies, these two foils are made of different materials. For household uses, many people originally used tin foil to wrap their food. However, since it left a metallic taste on food, it was later swapped by leading brands for aluminum. This leaves no flavor behind.

Does Tin Foil’s Taste Deter Roaches?

If you want to be clever about a roach’s tastes, you may think tin is an easy fix. Roaches only eat organic matter, so the tinny flavor should drive them away, right?

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Roaches are mainly driven by their sense of smell. Tin foil doesn’t give off a strong metallic smell. That means it can’t fool roaches into thinking there’s nothing but metal present, with no food to be found.

Tin foil may leave a light metallic taste on your food. However, by the time cockroaches realize this, it will be too late. They’ll have already taken a bite and contaminated your food. Once they have, they may leave fecal matter on your food. According to the Journal of Medical Entomology, that can be damaging to your health.

To make matters worse, the cockroaches will probably ignore the flavor difference in exchange for good, organic matter with nutrients (the food itself).

Is Tin Foil Too Thick For Roaches?

Tin foil is also slightly thicker than aluminum foil. This gives it a stiffer texture that’s less likely to rip or break as you wrap it around food. As such, you may think tin foil is too thick for roaches to chew through.

Sadly, that’s not the case. Tin foil is still a very thin metal. It can tear by hand and under the steady work of a roach’s mandibles.

Will Aluminum Foil Kill A Cockroach If They Eat It?

Technically speaking, a roach could die from eating too much aluminum foil. However, that’s just a hypothetical. It’s unlikely that the roach would consume enough to be harmed.

Aluminum, as a metal, is not an organic material. It has no nutrimental benefits for a cockroach and won’t be properly digested. As such, a cockroach is unlikely to eat it, in the same way roaches won’t eat your forks.

Most likely, a cockroach will nibble on a small amount of foil to reach your food. Once it gains access, it’ll ignore it for real food. This small amount of foil will not harm it whatsoever.

Even if a roach was starving, it wouldn’t resort to non-organic food. Instead, in its desperation, it would first go for the paint on your appliances or even your kitchen towels, which are more organic.

Are Cockroaches Attracted to Metals?

Since cockroaches are spotted in electronics, you may think certain metals are edible to them. However, that’s a misunderstanding. Cockroaches may chew on your kitchen appliances or other electronics in your home. However, this is usually because these objects:

  • Are covered in paint, which contains trace organic compounds
  • Are covered in dust, which is organic
  • Have skin, hair, or other debris in them, which is edible to roaches

You won’t find a cockroach chewing on the metal itself. As such, any other kind of food container made of metal will be safe. The only danger is if a roach can work its way through the metal, and to the food inside it.

How To Keep Roaches Away From Foil

Since foil won’t keep your food safe, you’ll need to protect it from roaches as well. You don’t need to swear off aluminum or tin foil altogether. Instead, you can:

Store It Carefully

Be sure you don’t place food wrapped in foil on counters, tables, or anywhere a roach can access. Instead, it’s best to place your food in a refrigerator.

Wrap It Tightly

As mentioned, foil may allow food smells to drift out and to roaches. Be sure to wrap the foil more tightly to prevent gaps. As a bonus, this will keep it more airtight and ensure the food lasts for longer.

Wrap In Multiple Layers

Roaches are able to chew through foil, but that’s only because it’s thin. If you wrap your food in multiple layers of aluminum or tin foil, this can prevent cockroaches from properly gnawing through.

If given enough time, and if sufficiently hungry, they may eat through it anyhow. However, it serves as a good deterrent and gives you a chance to scare off the roaches before they manage it. 

Use Something Other Than Foil

Of course, using safeguards for your aluminum foil may be more trouble than it’s worth. After all, many people choose foil because they want to keep their food a neutral temperature, outside a fridge. You may also want it to be easy to wrap and unwrap. If you’re trying to save money, using multiple sheets of foil for a single piece of food might be silly.

For a more efficient way to protect your food, you should then consider other materials. These are far more roach-proof, and require less effort:


Roaches cannot bite through glass. In some cases, they’re not even able to walk vertically across it. That’s because it’s an entirely smooth surface that leaves no minor footholds. Roach mandibles won’t find any leverage to chew through.

Thick Plastic Food Containers

Thin plastic won’t stop cockroaches, but thick, durable, plastic containers will. If you use some type of Tupperware or other sturdy plastic containers, your food should be safe. Roaches have powerful jaws, but not that powerful.

Thick Metal

In that same vein, thick metal will be impenetrable for cockroaches. You can safely store your food in metal canisters, cookie jars, or anything you’d struggle to break yourself. By doing so, roaches will be completely barred access, unless you leave the cap off.

Cockroaches can get through thin metal, like tin foil or aluminum foil. However, the thicker the metal, the more protected your food will be.