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The first thing that comes to mind when you hear of cockroaches is how much of a nuisance they are! The hate humans have for roaches can be compared to that accorded to bugs. They are a common sight in the home, therefore regarded as pests due to their closeness to human dwellings. However, they can live in the wild like other insects.
Cockroaches are an insect species that is quite common. They can be dated back to a million years ago. Roaches are known to be peaceful insects and happy insects. Although they can bite humans, this hardly ever happens. Probably the main reason cockroaches prefer being pests in human homes is the immense danger that exists out there. At least as pests, all they do is avoid being sprayed, stepped on, or crushed by an angry owner.
There are over 3000 species of cockroaches in the world. A cockroach is considerably a large insect. Some, like the Australian giant roach, grows to 3.5 inches long and weigh up to one and a half ounces. We also have the Madagascar hissing cockroach, often kept as pets, which grow up to 3.1 inches long with a weight of 1.2 ounces. It may come as a surprise that some people welcome these insects willingly and with open arms.
How many natural predators do roaches have?
Even with their sizes, cockroaches have more predators than you thought. Although some die of natural causes, most fall victim of hungry predators like other insects, and at times, they are served as a source of protein for humans. Cockroaches are a vital part of the food chain. They eat and are eaten.
Cockroaches are a rich source of proteins for several animals. Cockroaches are preyed on by Amphibians like toads and frogs, mammals such as mice and arachnids such as spiders. Roaches are also fed on by wasps and Entomopathogenic fungi. Let’s have a detailed breakdown, shall we?
Lizards have always been out to get cockroaches. The size of the lizard will count while considering this. However, on average, a lizard can eat between 18-25 cockroaches in a single day. Can you imagine how many two or three can gobble up?
A lizard can quickly pounce on a cockroach or use its long sticky tongue to grab the poor creature. A lizard should not be used to kill cockroaches in an environment with pesticides.
Snakes, geckos and iguanas are also known as cockroach predators. Cockroaches comprise a significant part of a gecko’s diet. If you have a gecko for a pet, you should definitely let it have a good day’s meal feeding on the roaches in your home. Small snakes such as the ringhead and small green snake also love to snack on roaches.
Spiders are not a big fan where cockroaches are concerned, but once in a while, cockroaches suffice as a meal. We have a species of spiders that is, however, popular for preying on cockroaches. The Brown Huntsman Spider is a prolific roach killer.
Spiders eat cockroaches that get trapped in their web. Spiders can also build wens in specific areas that are frequented by roaches, like low corners of the kitchen to catch these insects.
Myriapods are many-legged creatures such as centipedes and millipedes. Centipedes are vicious small creatures with a deceivingly innocent appearance. They capture and eat roaches whenever chance appears. These many-legged creatures wrap their bodies around the unknowing cockroach and strangle it. Once the energy has run out, the centipede will feed on the roach peacefully. A centipede can surprisingly feed on tons of cockroaches thanks to its unpredictable and aggressive nature.
Many bird species eat cockroaches, for instance, the Starlings, Scoops owl, Coucals, Tree pies, Babblers, and many more. We cannot exhaust the list of these birds.
A bird feeds on roaches by picking them off the ground. Birds have a very sharp eye-sight, enabling them to spot a cockroach very easily. However, birds cannot rely on cockroaches as the primary diet since cockroaches have a tendency of staying hidden in crevices. Cockroaches only come out at night ad birds may not see clearly in the dark.
• Frogs and Toads
Amphibians of the frog and toad family are vociferous eaters of cockroaches. Their long tongues give then an advantage and allow them to strike quickly before a cockroach even knows what is happening.
Toads are usually found around gardens and yards and like places near water. Frogs are nocturnal and will hunt often at night, and because cockroaches prefer the dark, they can be out in numbers during nighttime, the ideal opportunity for their frog enemies.
Crickets are omnivores who delight in eating green. However, they eat cockroaches too! I mean, does it hurt to spice up your diet with some protein? Crickets are mainly found in areas that have plenty of grass and vegetation. They are rarely seen except for the ear-piercing noise they make. Once in a while, crickets pounce on cockroaches in the wild and make a meal of them. However, it is an uncommon occurrence.
• Rats and mice
Rats and mice can eat pretty much anything, as long as they can fill their stomachs. Cockroaches are no exception. These rodents are a great way of keeping cockroaches at bay, especially because they are always chewing.
A rodent in search of food will not give it a second thought if it found a dead cockroach. Mice and rats are not the pickiest animals known. Domestic rodents should not be allowed to constantly feed on cockroaches since wild ones may be carrying pesticides, which may pose a danger.
Although rodents are an easy way of naturally controlling cockroaches, you may be bringing yourself more problems. Rats and mice can also bring another problem of pests, especially if you do not involve professionals.
Surprising as it may be, cats eat cockroaches. Felines do not go after cockroaches to eat. However, if a cat sees a cockroach running across the kitchen, the first instinct would be to chase it around. Well, the natural thing to do during the chase would be to pounce on the roach, and put it in its mouth.
Good news is, roaches are utterly safe for felines. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about your curios chasing cockroaches. A cat may, however, not be an effective natural way of keeping cockroaches at bay since it is not a big predator.
• Entomopathogenic fungi
Apart from human beings and insects joining forces to eliminate roaches, we have the entomopathogenic fungi. How do fungi feed on cockroaches? The fungi species attach their spores to the victim cockroach first. Within a few weeks, the target cockroach will be dead!
Since cockroaches are a rather social creature, the affected target cockroach will spread the virus from the entomopathogenic fungi to the other roaches.
Also, in very few cases, ants feed on the cockroaches. It’s not a common occurrence given the size of an ant compared to a roach and the speed too. Since cockroaches are faster than ants, they are usually able to get away. However, if the two find themselves in a confined space where ants can surround cockroaches, there is no escape for the cockroach! Ant species such as fire ants and Argentine ants consume roaches when the chance appears, thanks to the fierceness.
• Parasitic wasps
Finally, we have a species of roaches which feed on the cockroaches. The method these wasps use is unique and literally mind-blowing for a species without a brain!
The wasps lay their eggs inside the egg cases of cockroaches. Therefore, they indirectly prey on roaches by laying their eggs in the egg cases of these cockroaches. Thus, when the wasp’s eggs hatch, they feed on the cockroaches’ eggs.
The easiest target for wasps to prey on is usually the American cockroach, the Asian, and the brown-banded cockroaches.
Also, wasps such as the Ampulex Compressa have such a unique method of survival. This species of wasps spots its target cockroach and goes at it intending to sting the brain. When the wasp succeeds, the roach will be defenseless since the venom from the wasp messes with the brain, causing the roach to be in a trance-like state.
Once the cockroach cannot fight or run, the wasp then drags the helpless roach back to its nest or burrow. Does the wasp eat the cockroach after that? No! The wasp goes on to lay eggs on the underbelly of the cockroach, which is usually alive but paralyzed. Think of it as an investment. Once the eggs hatch, the hornets feed on the cockroach.
Many predators hunt and eat cockroaches. They can be a source of food for any animal, reptile, name it that is above them on the food chain. Cockroaches are so many that when there is a lack of food, many animals will turn to eat cockroaches.
Well, the good news is there are countless natural ways to get rid of roaches. However, some are more effective than others. You can consider using a combination of several cockroach eaters. Also, you can kill two birds with one stone by getting a pet that can solve a roach problem. Either way, you should consider all factors before deciding on a single natural way to get rid of cockroaches.
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