Do Cockroaches Bite?
Updated: Mar 15
Cockroaches cause enough problems in the home with their foraging, making messes, and attracting other pests – is biting something you need to worry about, too?
Here's everything you need to know about why cockroaches may bite, how dangerous that is for humans, and how to prevent cockroach bites effectively.
Do Cockroaches Bite?
They certainly can! It's one of a long list of reasons you don't want to find cockroaches in your home. However, cockroaches don't make it a habit to seek out and bite humans – they would rather avoid us altogether. Unlike a pest like bed bugs, they don't need humans around to live off, and they survive largely by staying away.
However, sometimes a roach will bite a human, especially if they think human skin may be edible. Interestingly, cockroaches in America appear more likely to bite humans than other species of cockroach in the world.
Do Roaches Even Have Teeth?
While cockroaches do not have teeth in the way we think of teeth in our mouths, they do have a process for breaking down food. That includes parts that can be considered teeth:
Mandibles: Mandibles are the large, extended jaws that many insects have, which often resemble pinchers. They are used to tear apart pieces of food.
Maxillae: Maxillae are teeth-like digestive parts further down a cockroach's throat that help grind food into tiny pieces for absorption in the cockroach's digestive system. While you can think of maxillae as cockroach teeth, they aren't in any position to easily bite things by themselves.
Cockroaches use components like these to bite into softer foods and eat them. When humans experience cockroach bites, it's usually tiny tears from the mandibles.
What Does a Cockroach Bite Look Like?
When a cockroach bites a human, there are two common results. First, a cockroach may bite dead cells like those found in hair, eyelashes, or thick callouses. The cockroach thinks there may be something to eat in these areas, and may try munching several times, but rarely does much damage (although it's still an unpleasant thought).
Second, a cockroach may move to a more sensitive area to try pinching there and may even break skin. This can cause a small, irritated area and bump that's difficult to tell apart from any common insect bite.
However, one of the most common problems is that human skin can respond with an allergic reaction to the presence of the cockroach itself, especially if the cockroach leaves behind feces or other material. Even if the cockroach doesn't do damage, humans can still wake up with itchy spots.
What's the Best Cockroach Bite Treatment?
Cockroaches don't have venom and there aren't any documented cases of a cockroach bite disease. The best response to a cockroach bite is to clean the area, apply disinfectant – and a soothing cream to deal with any allergic reactions.
If bites keep happening and you can't find any cockroaches, the problem is likely to be caused by another pest, like mosquitos or bed bugs.
What Do Cockroaches Eat, Anyway?
Cockroaches are the opposite of picky eaters: They will eat any organism they can find, preferably dead, and nothing is off their list. They often prefer richer foods with more sugars or starches, which is why they are attracted to human kitchens and love getting into human trash. It usually takes a large infestation before roaches start investigating humans to see if they're edible, too.
How Can I Prevent Cockroach Problems?
If you're wondering how to prevent cockroach bites, the best way is to keep them out of your home entirely. That means sealing off cracks, openings around pipes or drains, crevices in basements and crawlspaces, and so on: Not only is this great for your home's insulation it also helps keep pesky roaches from finding ways in. You should also carefully package and seal any opened food in your pantry or cupboards, and clean both regularly so cockroaches won't find anything tasty. A set of plastic bins can be a huge help for this project.
After cooking a meal, sweep up any bits of food on the counters and floor so that foraging pests won't find things to eat during the night. Keep trash well-sealed and vacuum any carpets or rugs to remove detritus that cockroaches may find attractive.
If you already have cockroaches in your home that aren't inclined to leave, it's time to call in the experts. Send EMCO Termite & Pest Control a message, and we can help you deal with a cockroach problem and seal your home thoroughly. If you're experiencing insect bites and aren't sure what's causing them, we can also narrow down the source and devise a response for you.