Cockroaches and bed bugs are two of the most common and irritating house pests. Having both simultaneously is a nightmare, which is why you might be wondering if cockroaches can eat bed bugs to get rid of them.
Cockroaches are natural bed bug predators, so they will eat them to get the nutrients they need. While cockroaches prefer decomposing matter, there’s not much they won’t eat. However, you could have both a roach and bed bug infestation at the same time as they’re unlikely to come into contact with one another.
While cockroaches are happy to eat bed bugs, they’re not a reliable method of pest control. Instead, you can eliminate both infestations with certain pesticides or heat treatment, killing them both simultaneously.
Do Cockroaches Kill Bed Bugs?
Sciencing confirms that cockroaches eat bed bugs and their eggs. Cockroaches are adapted to eating rotting or decomposing matter, which means they’re happy to eat almost anything. Their primary food sources include:
- Starchy items, including soap and wallpaper
- Fruits and vegetables
- Bread crumbs
- Cooking oils and grease
- Coffee grinds
- Organic matter
When they’re really hungry or starving, they’ll eat:
- Paper and cardboard
- Cigarette butts
- Wallpaper paste
- Hair and dead skin
- Dead cockroaches and eggs
Cockroaches are also known to eat small insects and other bugs. Bed bugs are only the size of apple seeds, so they fit the bill for cockroach nutrition, and they are easy to consume.
Can Roaches and Bed Bugs Live Together?
It’s unlikely – if not impossible – for cockroaches and bed bugs to live in harmony within the same environment. That’s because cockroaches will eat them for sustenance.
Unfortunately, however, it is possible to have both roach and bed bug infestations at the same time, causing a headache for renters and homeowners. When this happens, both creatures will infest different areas of the house.
Cockroaches are motivated by food, moisture, and shelter. They’ll live where they have easy access to all three, usually in a kitchen or bathroom. On the other hand, bed bugs create colonies where there’s no immediate threat to their survival. Bed bugs most commonly infest soft furnishings, including:
- Box springs
- Cracks on bed frames
- Chair and couch seams
- Between cushions
- Curtain folds
However, while there are several essential differences between bed bug and cockroach infestations, they have a few things in common, including:
- Poor hygiene: Cockroaches eat rotting, decaying foods, while bed bug infestations get worse in dirty, unsanitary bedding.
- There is no food competition: Cockroaches and bed bugs feed on different things, meaning they don’t need to compete for resources.
- Living space: You won’t find cockroaches and bed bugs in the same areas, so they’ll naturally remain out of each other’s way.
This is why cockroaches and bed bugs can live in the same environment. Unfortunately, you’ll need to deal with the infestations separately to get rid of them both.
Can You Eliminate Bed Bugs Using Cockroaches?
Cockroaches can run much faster than bed bugs, meaning bed bugs don’t stand much of a chance against them. However, if you think cockroaches could help control the bed bug population, you’d be mistaken.
That’s because bed bugs breed faster than cockroaches could eat them, causing your home to be quickly overrun, regardless of whether cockroaches are eating them or not. Bed bugs are also hard to find as they’re so small and reside in place roaches can’t access.
While roaches are useful at picking off a select few bed bugs, you’d need a significant roach infestation to combat them. Even then, there’s no guarantee they’d succeed in getting rid of them, and you’ll be left with an even worse pest problem.
Also, cockroaches are most commonly found in kitchens, while bed bugs live in bedrooms. The likelihood of them coming into contact are slim.
Not only that, but most homeowners prefer to have neither cockroaches nor bed bugs in their homes. Both are pests that can cause several health problems and a significant amount of distress. They’re also hard to eliminate.
Are Cockroaches or Bed Bugs Worse?
In reality, both cockroaches and bed bugs are bad, but in different ways. They’re difficult to kill and rapidly multiply, making them tough to treat. Bed bugs are considered worse than cockroaches because they:
- Cause red, itchy, swollen bites every night
- Are invisible to the naked eye
- Feed only at night when you’re asleep, making it difficult to prevent
- Crawl all over you
On the other hand, cockroaches are worse in their own way because they:
- Spread harmful diseases
- Trigger asthma and allergies
- Sometimes come out when you’re in the same room
- Lay lots of eggs
- Crawl over food and preparation surfaces
Both cause distress and anxiety, so neither can be considered better than the other. You’ll notice your infestations are worse in the summer because both bed bugs and cockroaches develop faster metabolisms when it’s warmer. This means they:
- Grow from an egg to adult faster
- Feed more frequently
- Lay eggs more often
That’s why you shouldn’t leave infestations to get worse – deal with them as soon as you know either bed bugs or cockroaches are present in your house.
Cockroaches are larger, appear more throughout the day, and can fly. However, bed bugs feed on blood and frequently bite their unsuspecting victims. Both are difficult to kill, but you can squash bed bugs more easily as soon as you see them. Cockroaches are much more hardy and can run out of harm’s way more quickly.
Are Bed Bugs or Roaches Harder To Remove?
According to PLoS One, there’s a possibility that bed bugs have genes that help them resist pesticides. Cockroaches have also become increasingly resistant to bug sprays over the years, making them difficult to kill.
The best way to kill cockroaches is through food. Using glucose bait traps is one of the most effective and speedy ways to kill an entire colony of roaches. One roach eats the poisoned food before succumbing a few hours later. Cockroaches will eat their dead kin, ingesting the poison and dying soon after. This process continues until all roaches are dead.
Unfortunately, this method doesn’t work for bed bugs, as they feed on blood and won’t fall for the bait. That being said, you can kill bed bugs and cockroaches simultaneously using a heat treatment.
With this method, you raise your house’s temperature to 120 degrees or higher. The higher the temperature, the quicker the treatment will work. The heat should reach the whole room, so you’ll need specialist equipment and preparation to fill in all nooks and crannies for it to be successful.
However, a heat treatment isn’t suitable for everyone. Instead, permethrin treatments, which are pesticides, work just as well on both cockroaches and bed bugs.
Bear in mind that both infestations can quickly return. Cockroach and bed bug eggs are notoriously hard to kill, and leaving a few alive can restart the infestation.
What Are Natural Predators of Bed Bugs?
Cockroaches aren’t the only creatures that eat bed bugs. There are also plenty of other natural enemies who will eat bed bugs if they find them. These predators include:
Masked Bed Bug Hunters
Also known as Reduvius personatus, masked bed bug hunters are small, black bugs that measure between 17 to 22 mm long. They belong to the assassin bug family (Reduviidae) and camouflage themselves with dust using sticky substances that cover their entire body. Alongside bed bugs, they eat:
However, you don’t really want masked bed bug hunters in your home. While they’ll help you with your bed bug infestation, they have a nasty, painful bite that’s similar to that of a snake’s. They don’t feed on blood, but they’ll bite if they feel threatened.
Pharaoh ants are another formidable bed bug enemy. They’re a small, almost transparent ant that looks very similar to typical household ants, though they’re honey-colored instead of black. Though their origins are unknown, they’re common in all areas of the world, including America and Europe.
They breed continuously throughout the year in heated buildings, creating nests where breeding takes place. Pharaoh ant queens can lay hundreds of eggs in their lifetime, causing a significant infestation problem.
Pharaoh ants aren’t very effective at eradicating bed bug infestations, as they tend to feast on larger populations that are hard to control. However, they can help you locate where bed bugs are hiding.
Beware if you see a pharaoh ant in your home, as they spread disease and are considered dangerous to humans, presenting an even more significant health risk than bed bugs.
House centipedes are most commonly seen in homes during the cold winter months when they search for warmth and shelter. House centipedes are active hunters that are always on the lookout for their next prey. Interestingly, they’re also a popular pet in Japan. House centipedes also feed on:
They also eat clothes and other household pests, so little is safe from them. However, they pose no danger to humans, so having one or two around the house could be beneficial in helping keep insect populations at bay.
While you might not want a centipede crawling around in your bed, it’ll disappear as soon as the food source disappears. That being said, if you have a large bed bug infestation, it’s likely the centipedes will stick around for a little while, causing a nuisance.
House Dust Mites
House dust mites are predominantly found in dusty environments. They’re so small and translucent that they’re barely visible to the naked eye.
Dust mites mainly feed on dead skin from humans and animals and some mold. They also eat bed bugs, particularly as they inhabit bedrooms where they reside. Bed bugs provide an abundant food source to help them thrive.
They also feed on other allergenic mites and silverfish, depending on what they can find. House dust mites aren’t a good form of bed bug pest control as they cause allergies.
Like bed bugs, they set up home inside mattresses, carpets, and upholstered furniture. Unlike bed bugs, however, they don’t feed off blood and rarely tend to bite. Most people can live alongside them without knowing they’re even there.
While bed bugs have several natural predators, the only way to really get rid of them is with tried-and-tested pest control methods provided by a professional. If you introduce cockroaches to your home to remove bed bugs, you’ll likely end up with a frustrating roach infestation.