Starving out your enemy is a tactic people have used for centuries. Unfortunately, while doing so may have led to success in historical human battles, trying to kill insects by withholding food does not work. Truly Nolen explains that waging war against cockroaches requires different techniques and why commercial pest control is your best weapon.
How Long Can a Cockroach Live Without Food and Water?
In the 1950s, scientists at the Pioneering Research Division of the Army Quartermaster Corps conducted an experiment to see how long cockroaches could go without food and water. The roaches survived from 4.8 to 50 days, depending on sex and species. Here are some of the study’s most interesting findings:
- Female roaches survived longer than males
- Larger species survived better than small ones
- Female German cockroaches (Leucophaea maderae) survived the longest, lasting 50 days without food or water
As long as researchers kept the roaches in a container with 36% to 40% humidity, all species lived for a month or more without food. Conditions between 50% and 100% humidity were the most beneficial for the roaches, indicating a strong dependence on water. Other studies since that time have shown that most roaches can only survive one week in dry conditions without access to water.
Can a Cockroach Die of Malnutrition?
Cockroaches will try to eat almost anything. Food scraps, crumbs, and pet food are obvious things they seek out. However, there are many other items on a roach’s menu. Here are a few you may not have been aware of:
- Dead skin
- Fingernail clippings
- Animal droppings
- Book glue
A female cockroach will even eat her own eggs if necessary. With so many foods to choose from, it is hard to clean up all of them.
To make it even easier for them to stay nourished, roaches have symbiotic bacteria that live in their fat tissues and secrete most of the vitamins they need. The only nutrients the bacteria cannot create for them are choline and cholesterol; however, the roaches can usually find these substances in the environment. The only potentially dangerous nutrient is nitrogen, which can give the insects a form of gout if they eat too much.
Is It Possible To Keep Food and Water Away From Roaches?
Unless you live in an empty concrete room, it is not possible to remove every source of cockroach food. However, you can take steps to minimize the insects’ selection and encourage them to move on to another location where food is more plentiful. Here are a few things to try:
- Dispose of garbage.
- Sweep and vacuum often
- Clean appliances regularly
- Store pet food in airtight containers
You can also minimize the amount of water available to roaches. Because moisture is key to their survival, doing so is actually more important than cleaning up food scraps. Here are some things to try:
- Fix leaks
- Empty sinks and bathtubs after use
- Check for a pan of water under the refrigerator
How Can Truly Nolen Help?
The relationship between food and cockroaches is an obvious one. Everyone knows that leaving food on countertops or crumbs on the floor will attract roaches. However, cleaning up food messes is not a guaranteed method of cockroach pest control. Following the tips above will definitely help, but even the cleanest houses can have a cockroach problem.
Truly Nolen will inspect your home to determine where cockroaches are hiding. We will treat the roaches you have and then return quarterly to ensure they don’t return. To end your infestation today, contact Truly Nolen. Call us to discuss how we can put our four four-season pest control plan to work for you.