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Cockroaches are one of the most reviled pests that find their way into our homes. No one wants to deal with these unclean insects scurrying around their kitchens and bathrooms.
Luckily, nature has given us some helpful exterminators – spiders. Spiders may give some people the creeps, but many common spider species actively hunt and feast on cockroaches.
This raises an interesting question for homeowners Do spiders eat cockroaches?
In this article, we’ll explore the interactions between spiders and their cockroach prey. We’ll find out what types of spiders are most likely to catch and consume roaches.
We’ll also look at whether spiders go after cockroach eggs as well as adult insects. Additionally, we’ll examine if the dynamics ever switch and cockroaches try to eat spiders.
By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of how spider predation influences cockroach control and behavior in and around your home.
Do Spiders Eat Cockroaches?
The short answer is – yes, spiders certainly eat cockroaches! In fact, cockroaches make up a large part of many spider species’ diets.
Spiders are opportunistic predators, meaning they will eat almost any insect or invertebrate they can overpower.
Cockroaches happen to be perfect spider prey because they share similar habitats. Plus, cockroaches aren’t able to easily escape or defend themselves once caught in a spider’s web or ambushed by a hunting spider.
Both web-building and hunting spiders will readily attack, kill, and consume cockroaches that cross their path.
There’s no squeamishness or pickiness when it comes to spiders feasting on roaches. The ample availability of cockroaches in and around human dwellings means that spiders can thrive on this food source alone.
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What Kind of Spiders Eat Cockroaches?
While most spiders will eat cockroaches given the opportunity, there are some groups of spiders that seem particularly adept at preying on roaches.
These spiders have developed behaviors and tactics that make them highly effective roach killers and control agents.
Wolf spiders are adept hunters, actively chasing down cockroaches and other household pests without the need for spinning webs.
They use their excellent eyesight and speed to their advantage when hunting roaches, especially at night.
Wolf spiders will pursue cockroaches that cross their path and swiftly pounce to inject venom, before carrying their prey back to a sheltered location to consume.
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Huntsman spiders are large, quick spiders that excel at flattening their bodies to hide in cracks and crevices where cockroaches may lurk.
They wait in ambush for roaches to pass by, then rapidly sprint out and grab them with their elongated legs.
Huntsman spiders don’t spin webs, relying solely on their stealthy hunting skills to overtake roaches and other insects around the home.
House spiders spin messy, haphazard webs in out-of-the-way areas inside homes where they lie in wait for cockroaches to become trapped.
Once a roach blunders into their web, house spiders quickly bite with venom to immobilize their prey before wrapping them in silken cocoons.
House spiders often set up their webs near cockroach infestations to capitalize on this food source.
Though tarantulas spend most of their time in burrows, they will readily consume any cockroaches that pass by their hiding spots, using their size and speed to overpower even large roach varieties.
Tarantulas need less frequent meals than other spider species but can eat a cockroach up to one-third of their own body size due to their large fangs and strong chewing stomachs.
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Brown Recluse Spiders
Brown recluse spiders build irregular webs in secluded areas and wait for cockroaches to become ensnared.
Once trapped, these venomous spiders deliver a toxic bite that liquefies the internal organs of roaches and other prey.
Brown recluses have a particular taste for cockroaches and thrive in homes with heavy roach infestations.
Outdoors, and orb weaver spiders build large spiraling webs that cocoon trees, shrubs, and pathways.
These sticky webs easily trap unwary cockroaches that fly or crawl through at night. Once stuck, roaches have no chance of escape before the orb weaver rushes over to bite and wrap them in more silk.
Orb weavers dine almost exclusively on insects caught in their intricate webs.
Though small in size, jumping spiders actively hunt cockroaches using their excellent vision and ability to leap distances far greater than their own body length.
Jumping spiders don’t build webs, instead patrolling walls, floors, and vegetation to stalk roaches.
They follow cockroaches stealthily before pouncing from up to 50 times their body size away to capture and subdue prey.
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Venomous black widows and brown widows construct very irregular, tangled webs, typically in dark, sheltered areas.
These messy webs are highly effective at trapping and ensnaring cockroaches of all sizes as they wander by.
Once stuck, the widows rush out and deliver neurotoxic bites to swiftly paralyze and kill roaches.
Like other huntsman spider species, the giant huntsman spider does not spin webs and instead relies on speed and stealth to chase down cockroaches and other large insects.
They use their flattened bodies to hide in narrow spaces and wait for unsuspecting roach prey to pass by.
Giant huntsman spiders can traverse smooth vertical surfaces and even run upside down across ceilings to grab roaches.
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Do Spiders Eat Cockroach Eggs?
Cockroaches produce ootheca egg cases containing up to 50 eggs that are left in hidden areas.
The answer seems to be that some spider species do indeed feed on cockroach ootheca. Spiders that actively hunt for food rather than relying on trapping prey in webs are most likely to eat cockroach eggs.
Wolf spiders, huntsman spiders, jumping spiders, and other wandering hunters use chemical cues to track down food sources.
If they detect the scent of a cockroach ootheca, they will investigate and often consume it. The eggs provide a concentrated protein source for these spiders.
Web-building spiders like orb weavers are less likely to find and eat cockroach egg cases since their prey comes to them. But if an ootheca did become stuck in their webs, they would not turn down this food source.
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Are There Any Spiders That Don’t Eat Cockroaches?
While most spiders are opportunistic generalists when it comes to feeding and will eat cockroaches, there are some exceptions.
Certain specialized spider species have very particular diets that do not include roaches.
For example, bagheera kiplingi spiders are mostly herbivorous and consume plant materials rather than hunting insects. Jumping spiders in the genus Bagheera also have vegetarian tendencies.
Some orb weaver spiders prefer small insects like mosquitoes, flies, and moths that become caught in their delicate webs.
Larger prey like cockroaches are more likely to damage their intricate webs before being fully subdued.
Spider species with very small mouths and fangs relative to their body size also tend to avoid cockroaches. Jumping spiders in the ant-like genus Myrmarachne have trouble piercing the hard bodies of roaches.
Desert-dwelling spiders may steer clear of cockroaches if other prey like scorpions, ants, and termites are more readily available. Harsh or resource-limited environments shape spider food preferences.
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Do Cockroaches Eat Spiders?
While spiders eagerly feed on cockroaches, can these roles ever be reversed with cockroaches preying upon spiders?
The answer seems to be that it is highly uncommon for cockroaches to intentionally attack and eat spiders.
Cockroaches are omnivores and sometimes consume dead organic material along with plant matter. However, they do not actively hunt other insects for food.
Cockroaches rely on their speed and hardy bodies to escape from predators rather than overpower them for consumption.
They do have biting mouthparts but these are best suited for chewing plants and fungi, not piercing the exoskeletons of spiders.
That said, a cockroach may incidentally bite a spider while trying to escape a web or defend itself from an attack.
And given the opportunity, cockroaches would feed on injured, immobile, or already dead spiders.
But they do not pursue and kill spiders to deliberately eat as a food source.
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Do Spiders Keep Cockroaches Away?
Cockroaches are one of the most reviled pests when they invade our homes. These unhygienic insects crawl through our kitchens and bathrooms, contaminating surfaces and foods.
Their presence immediately sparks most homeowners to start seeking ways to eradicate roaches.
While chemical treatments or traps may seem the best options, a natural form of cockroach control may already be present – spiders!
Having a healthy population of spiders in and around your home provides free, organic pest management.
Spiders deter cockroaches in two key ways. First, they prey directly on roaches that cross their paths, picking off individuals and reducing the overall population.
Second, cockroaches tend to avoid areas where they detect chemical cues and evidence of large spider inhabitants.
So encouraging spider webs in basements, garages, attics, and other secondary rooms can effectively discourage cockroaches from becoming established and spreading through your living spaces.
A few cobwebs are a small tradeoff to keep roach infestations at bay!
Of course, sanitation and sealing up food sources are important too. But letting your home’s natural spider residents thrive is a smart companion strategy to control cockroaches.
The enemy of your enemy can be your friend when it comes to managing pests.
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As we’ve explored, spiders are certainly eager and effective predators when it comes to feasting on pesky cockroaches.
Their hunting skills and venomous bites make them well-equipped to prey upon roaches that venture into their habitats.
While you may not love having spiders in your home either, they do provide free pest control by reducing cockroach populations.
Their presence and webs can also deter roaches from taking up residence in your living spaces. A few spider residents can be beneficial companions.
However, if cockroach infestations are already severe, don’t rely solely on natural spider predators.
Combining spider populations with proper sanitation and targeted insecticide use is your best defense. But day to day, be thankful for their roach-eating appetite!
Though cockroaches aren’t going extinct anytime soon, nature has provided some helpful checks and balances.
Having a healthy respect for both the hunter and the hunted is key to coexisting with these unloved but fascinating creatures that call our homes theirs too.
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Do spiders kill cockroaches?
Yes, spiders are highly effective predators and will readily kill and eat cockroaches. Their venom and webs help them subdue roach prey.
Do daddy long legs spiders eat cockroaches?
Daddy long legs spiders do not build webs to catch prey, but they will actively hunt and consume cockroaches and other household pests.
Do wolf spiders eat cockroaches?
Yes, wolf spiders frequently eat cockroaches. As active hunters, they chase down and pounce on roaches both indoors and outdoors.
Do jumping spiders eat cockroaches?
Jumping spiders are skilled hunters and cockroaches make up a significant portion of their diet. Jumping spiders stalk and ambush roaches.
Do spiders eat German cockroaches?
German cockroaches are a common prey for many spider species. Spiders will readily pursue, catch, and feast on German cockroaches that invade homes.
How do house spiders catch cockroaches?
House spiders use irregular, messy webs placed in dark corners or crevices to trap and ensnare unwary cockroaches.
Do spiders scare off roaches?
Yes, the presence of spider webs and chemical cues like pheromones can deter cockroaches from an area and prevent infestations.
Resources – (for further reading)
Science Daily – Spiders eat astronomical numbers of insects
Springer – The Science of Nature