spiders that eat cockroaches

What Kind of Spiders Eat Cockroaches?

Cockroaches and spiders are both seen as a nuisance inside the home. However, their bad reputations aren’t always warranted. In the wild, these insects play a valuable role in the ecosystem, and against each other. Certain spiders will hunt down and eat roaches and their eggs.

Spiders that eat cockroaches include American house spiders, wolf spiders, huntsman spiders, jumping spiders, running spiders, brown recluse spiders, and widow spiders. Most of these are active hunters that will track down prey. Those that rely on trapping prey with their webs have very robust silk. This can capture a roach and allow the spider to eat the bug at its leisure.

Smaller spiders can eat smaller roaches while bigger spiders can eat larger roaches. Depending on the type of infestation you have, it’s wise to look at different species of spiders. Just keep in mind that this form of natural pest control won’t be effective against a large roach infestation. 

Spiders That Eat Cockroaches

Spiders can eat cockroaches, but not all spiders do. Here are the varieties of spiders that hunt cockroaches:

  • Wolf spiders
  • Huntsman spiders
  • Jumping spiders
  • Running spiders
  • Brown recluse spiders
  • Widow spiders

These spiders also eat bugs that aren’t cockroaches. That means you can trust them to handle other household pests, including:

  • Earwigs
  • Mosquitoes
  • Flies
  • Bed bugs
  • Clothes moths

In the wild, spiders will hunt and feed on a variety of prey, based on what’s available in their environment. That includes other insects, small mammals, and even fish.

Since roaches are a prominent species across the world, it’s no surprise that many spiders of different regions use them as a food source. However, no one spider species relies on cockroaches exclusively for food.

Instead, spiders will eat roaches opportunistically. If a spider is hungry enough, and a roach is available, it may decide to pursue it. Likewise, if a roach gets caught in its web, larger spiders won’t pass up a free meal.

Do House Spiders Eat Cockroaches?

House spiders do eat cockroaches, but usually only small roaches. ‘House spider’ is a broad category that will cover up to 10 or more different species, including the:

  • Long-bodied cellar spider
  • Brown recluse
  • Daddy long leg
  • Sac spider
  • Jumping spider
  • Wolf spider
  • Hobo spider

However, the most common species is the American house spider. This spider is mostly harmless to humans. It relies on eating prey bugs with few defensive capabilities that can be caught in its web. Some roaches, however, are more resilient against its passive tactics. That’s especially true for large varieties, like the American cockroach, which can break out of thin webs.

That’s the case for many other common house spiders. For example, Daddy long leg spiders are docile and have small mouths. They would be unable to crack through a roach’s thick outer shell to eat the bug. They would also struggle to fit the roach into their mouth. Their webs are thin enough that large roaches could break through.

As such, if you’re looking for spiders that can work as pest control, you need to pick larger types.

Appearance

American house spiders are a dull brown with a spotted pattern. They’re usually around ¼-inch in size. They can’t attack and eat roaches that are bigger than them. However, if they come across a smaller cockroach, like the brown-banded roach, they may eat those. That’s especially true if the roach gets caught in their webs.

do house spiders eat cockroaches?

What Else Do They Eat?

If they can’t find small roaches, American house spiders tend to eat:

  • Flies
  • Moths
  • Mosquitoes
  • Earwigs
  • Other small insects

Do They Bite?

American house spiders do not bite humans. That makes them relatively safe to keep in your home. In fact, depending on your region, you may have a few present right now. Rather than clearing them out, you can enjoy some peace of mind that they might try their luck on your very small roaches.

Do Wolf Spiders Eat Cockroaches?

Wolf spiders also eat cockroaches. Since wolf spiders don’t spin webs, they stalk and ambush their prey, much like a wolf.

In the wild, some varieties will burrow into the ground and place a web covering over this pit. They will then wait for unsuspecting insects to traipse by. At this point, the wolf spider will burst out and attack the prey.

In your home, wolf spiders usually linger in the corners of your home or prowl across your walls. If they spot prey, they will either rush it at high speeds or leap great distances to land on it. This can make them effective at taking out larger roaches, or faster species of insect.

Appearance

A wolf spider’s excellent eyesight and agile body make it very easy to track down cockroaches and snatch them up. This good eyesight also helps them hunt at night, when roaches tend to be moving around the most.

To spot a wolf spider, they are usually about ½ to 1 ⅓ inches in size, and their eyes are arranged in three rows. They will have thick bodies, and to the average person, they may seem like a very small tarantula. They come in light brown and dark brown colors, and may appear slightly fuzzy.

Do Wolf Spiders Eat Cockroaches?

What Else Do They Eat?

When not eating cockroaches, they like crickets, beetles, and even mealworms. In the wild, larger species of wolf spiders may even hunt very small mammals. They use their deadly venom to coagulate the blood of their victims, killing them over time. Once the prey is dead, the wolf can eat at its leisure.

They are on the larger side, so these spiders can hunt larger prey. Oriental roaches, American roaches, German roaches, and brown-banded roaches will be no issue.

Do They Bite?

Wolf spiders do bite. While their venom isn’t immediately deadly to humans, unlike with black windows, it can be very dangerous. It may create an infected wound that will need medical attention.

If you see a wolf spider in your home, it’s better to get rid of it. Even if it’s an effective cockroach-hunter, it may be more of an issue to you. Wolf spiders don’t openly attack humans, but they can get startled into biting. Likewise, they may bite defensively if you get frightened and try to smack it away.

Do Huntsman Spiders Eat Cockroaches?

Huntsman spiders are specifically known for eating cockroaches. As a bonus, they’re often kept as pets. They actually enjoy the taste of cockroaches and will actively hunt them if there is no other food around.

Like wolf spiders, huntsman spiders don’t spin webs. Instead, they use stealth and speed to catch their prey. Some homeowners even use huntsman spiders to actively control their cockroach population.

Appearance

To have huntsman spiders eat cockroaches, you must be willing to let a 3-5 inch spider into your home. They look like a hairless tarantula, so it’s definitely a large pet. In exchange for a warm, safe home to live in, it will happily track down the other insects in your house or apartment. It’s a chemical-free way to control pests.

Huntsman spiders have eight eyes and are a light shade of either brown or grey. Some have black and white undersides, or red markings around their mouths. Their legs are very spiny, but their bodies are quite furry. They are often found in sheds, garages, or places in the house that people normally don’t use often. More often than not, you won’t see them, as they rarely walk around during the daylight hours.

While they may have many eyes, their eyesight isn’t as good as other spider types. You’ll have to be careful about not stepping on the bug, or accidentally setting items on them. Your huntsman spiders, if allowed to roam free, might not avoid the danger.

do huntsman spiders eat cockroaches?

What Else Do They Eat?

Besides cockroaches, huntsman spiders also hunt and eat:

  • Palmetto bugs
  • Crickets
  • Silverfish
  • Cockroaches are their favorite, though!

If you are worried about danger to you, take comfort. Huntsman spiders have no interest in people. They only want the bugs in your home.

Do They Bite?

Huntsman spiders are one of the very few types that actively eat cockroaches, but don’t bite or use venom via biting.

Do Brown Recluse Spiders Eat Cockroaches?

Brown recluse spiders do eat cockroaches. They build thick, resilient webs that are capable of holding medium to small cockroaches steadfastly. This allows them to snack on trapped prey at night, during peak feeding times.

When they’re not checking their webs, brown recluse spiders may also prowl around your home. They will look to physically capture roaches and use their venom to subdue them. 

These spiders are sometimes kept as pets, but do so carefully. These spiders have very powerful venom. If they were to bite you accidentally, you could suffer from an infected wound that will be very unpleasant. You may require medical attention in short order.

Appearance

The most telltale sign of a brown recluse spider is a dark, violin-shaped mark on its body. The neck of the mark will point toward the abdomen. These spiders also have a light brown or yellow-brown thorax.

Do Brown Recluse Spiders Eat Cockroaches?

What Else Do They Eat?

Besides cockroaches, they also eat:

  • Firebats
  • Crickets
  • Ants
  • Other spiders
  • Centipedes
  • Other crawling bugs

When hunting, a brown recluse will pounce, inject its venom, and then wait for it to do the work.

Do They Bite?

As mentioned, brown recluse spiders handle prey through the use of venom. Their bites aren’t very powerful, but the resulting wound and infection will be impressive. As such, it’s not advised to let them roam free in your home.

Unless you’re very experienced with spiders, you should avoid keeping one. If you spot a brown recluse living in your home, take it outside before it has the chance to bite anyone.

Do Jumping Spiders Eat Cockroaches?

Jumping spiders do eat cockroaches, but only if they’re very hungry. Most cockroaches are larger than this spider, even the tiny German cockroach. As such, the bug will happily eat a roach if it can get ahold of one, but it’s an uncommon practice.

As their name implies, jumping spiders like to hunt through ambush attacks. They will prowl throughout your home and lay in wait. If they spot their prey, they will jump onto their target, hold tightly, and eat it.

Appearance

This type of spider has eight eyes and much better eyesight than the huntsman spider. It is also the largest family of spiders inside of its particular branch. That makes this family rather small.  

Jumping spiders can look very different from each other. They can be brown, tan, or grey. This will be matched to white, grey, yellow, blue, red, or green markings. They are usually about ⅛ -¾ inch in size and covered in hair or colored scales.

Do Jumping Spiders Eat Cockroaches?

What Else Do They Eat?

Jumping spiders mainly eat fruit flies, mosquitoes, and pests that tend to go after plants or crops. They will eat the occasional cockroach, but it has to be a small one.

Do They Bite?

These spiders do bite and have pretty big fangs. Their venom is not deadly to humans, but if you see one, it’s best to get it away from your home. If you’re not willing to do it yourself, call a professional to do it for you.

Do Running Spiders Eat Cockroaches?

Running spiders do eat cockroaches. As another spider type that doesn’t make webs, they use other skills to catch their prey. As the name implies, running spiders use their speed to sneak up on cockroaches, attack them, and then eat them.

They can run up to 1.2 miles per hour, while roaches can run at 3 miles per hour at top speed. Of course, that means a roach could outrun this predator. Luckily, these spiders are great at ambushes.

According to PLOS ONE, running spiders are very aerodynamic and use air displacement to ensure they aren’t detected by their prey. Roaches barely know they are coming before the spider has them.

Appearance

To identify a running spider, look for a dark-red head and thorax. It will be matched to a beige or tan abdomen. In stark contrast to the rest of their body, their back legs are pale white.

Do Running Spiders Eat Cockroaches?

Do They Bite?

Running spiders do bite, and it’s pretty painful for humans, but they are not poisonous. Because of their bite, most people do not want running spiders anywhere in their home. They can serve as fairly good pest control, but it’s not always worth the risk. You should first consider how comfortable you’d be dealing with this spider yourself.

Do Widow Spiders Eat Cockroaches?

Widow spiders, or black widows, are a species that spin webs and also eat cockroaches. They use their sticky, intricate webs to catch their prey. Their traps are very resilient and can hold even the most powerful roach. According to Science Magazine, a black window’s silk is just as strong as Kevlar; or it would be, if it were scaled up to size.

Once their prey is trapped, black windows will bite the roach and wrap it up in silk to prevent escape. The venom will eat away at the roach, making it a tasty meal for later.

Appearance

Widow spiders, as you can probably guess, are either dark brown or black in color. Their clearest identifying feature will be the red or orange hourglass shape on their undersides. Some may have red spots or no extra markings at all. They are also quite small, at less than a ⅓ inch big.

Widow spiders are normally shy and nocturnal. At night, they do their hunting, so you’re unlikely to see them. This makes them great at capturing roaches, which may prowl throughout your kitchen in the darkness.

Do Widow Spiders Eat Cockroaches?

Do They Bite?

Black widow spiders are incredibly venomous. A single bite can be very life threatening and will require you to visit a hospital right away. They may only bite if provoked, but an injection of their venom can result in extreme damage to your muscles and nerves.

According to the Journal of Cell Biology, this is especially effective against frogs and other prey larger than black widows. The venom causes a breakdown in the cells, extreme pain, and eventually death.

If you find a black window in your home, have it removed immediately. If you do not wish to do this yourself, you can contact a professional.

Do Cockroaches Eat Dead Spiders?

You don’t have to worry about the cockroaches in your home turning the tides. Roaches do not eat spiders, and are not predators. However, cockroaches will happily feed on the bodies of dead spiders. This isn’t a huge surprise as cockroaches will eat other cockroaches.

As such, any dead house spiders in your home may become a food source for these bugs. That’s especially true if you’ve just carried out pest control methods on a spider population. If you’ve recently purchased spiders to hunt down roaches, some may die through natural means. You should clean up these bodies as well, to avoid helping a roach population thrive.

In some cases, a roach may eat a live spider. If the spider is small, and the roach is hungry, it will take advantage of the opportunity for food. However, this will be a rare event.

Can You Keep Spiders To Get Rid Of Cockroaches?

You can keep spiders as a natural form of pest control against roaches. When there is a predator like a spider in your home, it can not only stop more roaches from coming into your home. It will eat the ones that are already there and decrease the population.

However, this does not work against large infestations. If you’re dealing with a full colony of roaches, a spider or two can’t handle this. They will be overwhelmed by the numbers. Aside from that, if the spiders are well-fed, they will not feel the need to eradicate a roach population wholesale.

Likewise, bringing in more spiders may just have you dealing with them as a new kind of infestation, which will grow out of control.

If you’re only dealing with a handful of roaches, then a huntsman spider or two may give you peace of mind. They will ensure the roaches don’t run around unchecked at night.