Do Cockroaches Eat Wood? How to Stop Them

Cockroaches can eat wood. However, they can only feed on dead wood that is decomposing. When rotten wood is decaying, it is always moist because the decay thrives in moisture. Therefore, roaches can feed on it because the moisture makes it soft and tender. Moist wood also provides a good environment that cockroaches can live in and lay eggs.

The Panesthia Cribrata is a type of roach that eats decaying wood. Also known as the Australian wood cockroach, it is commonly found under rotting logs. It can also hide inside any gaps and cracks on a rotting wooden surface. This type of cockroach depends on wood for survival. After eating wood, it will produce enzymes that can digest the pieces.

While cockroaches rarely attack wood on live trees, they can eat the stem if the tree has been attacked by bacteria or fungi that cause decay. Live trees can also attract roaches because they are constantly moist and bugs can also hide in cracks and crevices on the stem. Australian roaches can also live around the base and you may think they are eating the tree.

Do Cockroaches Eat Wood?
Do Cockroaches Eat Wood?

Types of wood eating roaches

The type of roach that likes wood is the wood cockroach. The adult is about an inch or more in length and feeds on dead decaying organic matter. While outdoors, they will eat dead leaves and wood that is decomposing. They also make their nests inside any log that is lying out there. They love being outdoors than indoors since that is where their natural habitat is.

The common indoor roaches I.e. the American and German cockroaches are good at finding food. Before they eat wood, they shall have really starved or the house must be super clean. They can feed on almost anything at home including a soft wooden surface. However, wood is not part of their favorite meals.

Most of the common wooden roaches at home are from the genus Parcoblatta. If they accidentally come indoors, they cannot destroy your wooden furniture or structures. Wood cockroaches can also come indoors at night because they are normally attracted by light. However, you will always find them on wooden decks, porches or patios especially on a cold night.

They will settle in dark joints or hidden areas because they like it warm moist and dark. Therefore, most of them will make a home under your decks because of the minimal movements and warm shelter it provides. They do not like it indoors and even if they come in, they will not survive or breed like the German or American cockroaches do.

Can cockroaches destroy wood?

There are roaches that can eat and destroy wood. It is a big relief that they are not common indoors. Additionally, they are only common in northern Carolina and the Appalachian region. These types of roaches that belong to the genus Panesthia and Cryptocercus can actually destroy wood just like the termites do.

After attacking, they will chew through the wood and even nest in there. They will go ahead and reproduce. If they form a colony, these roaches can destroy wood or a wooden structure significantly. Generally one should not worry about them because it is very rare to find them at home or even near your wooden structures since they like it out in the woods.

If there is a pile of wood lying on the ground, moisture will build below it. The dark shade and hideouts provided by the layers will make the bottom area warm and humid. This environment will thus provide roaches with a good hiding spot and if they lack food, they will eat the wood after it becomes soft and tender.

Pictures of wood cockroaches
Pictures of wood cockroaches

How to stop cockroaches from eating wood

To stop cockroaches from eating wood, ensure that they are well aerated and dry. Their mouthparts are not strong enough to chew through dried tough wood. If you have piles of wood in a store, you can also treat them with motor oil to repel roaches plus other bugs that can eat or destroy them.

Simply spray or paint the wood with used motor oil before storage. This can also be applied on wooden fences because motor oil on wood keeps roaches plus other bugs like termites away. It releases a bad odor and alters the natural taste of wood thus the bugs will be discouraged.  

1. Storage

If there are lots of wood stacked in an area, ensure there is enough air circulation such that moisture does not build up in them. Keeping the storage area constantly dark and humid will not only invite roaches. There are several other pests that will thrive in such an environment.

Those who have a natural fireplace indoors depend on firewood. How you store your firewood can also determine if it will attract roaches to your fireplace or not. There is also a possibility of introducing outdoor roaches into your home because once the firewood becomes dry, bugs will look for other sources of food around the house.  

2. Sealing

When roaches infest any wooden structure, they will hide in cracks and crevices on the surface. Those provide them with shelter away from danger. Any hole or deep crack in a block of wood is moist and warm and roaches can easily lay eggs and multiply in those. The moisture trapped in there is also enough to soften the wood in a way that roaches can easily eat them up.

Therefore, sealing any gaps, holes, and deep cracks on any wooden surface will keep roaches away. This can be best done by using plaster of Paris. Simply make it wet until it becomes adhesive then seal all the gaps on a wooden structure. Roaches that are sealed inside the wood will eventually die while there will be nowhere for new ones to hide.

3. Baits

Simple homemade cockroach baits can also help in getting rid of cockroaches that eat wood. Simply mix equal parts of powdered chocolate and borax and spread it in the infested areas. Once they eat this borax will kill the roaches via severe dehydration.

Alternatively, you may also mix equal parts of sugar with baking soda and dust the mixture in their hideouts. Wood roaches around your house just like other species can sometimes seek alternative food if it is attractive. If it is a serious infestation, you may seek a pest control expert for permanent solutions.

4. Natural deterrents

Natural deterrents like cinnamon and peppermint can be used to control an infestation. This can be grown around the infested outdoor areas. Alternatively, you can crush their fresh leaves and spread them on the infested areas.

If the infestation is not serious, essential oils like tea tree and eucalyptus can be mixed with white vinegar to kill them. Here is how to kill and get rid of wood cockroaches with essential oils:

  1. Put 5 drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle
  2. Then  add 3 drops of eucalyptus oil in it
  3. After that, pour 4 teaspoons of white vinegar into the bottle
  4. Then pour 1 cup of warm water into the bottle and spray it on the infested areas

Are wood roaches dangerous? Do they bite?

Since wood roaches only feed on the organic matter they are not dangerous and they cannot bite you. The chances of them attacking you or your pets is almost zero because they are not carnivorous in any way. Their defensive instincts are also not designed to sting. They will run and hide in most cases if they sense danger. Therefore, they are not dangerous to humans in any way.

Other wood-eating species like the Panesthia Cribrata are also not aggressive towards humans. Generally, almost all species of roaches do not attack or bite humans. They consider them as enemies and they will always do their best to avoid us. Even if roaches hide in your bed and mattress, they are never interested in biting you or your pets.