Do Cockroaches Eat Wood? Here’s How to Stop Them

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

The Panesthia Cribrata is a type of roach that eats decaying wood. Also known as the Australian wood cockroach, it depends on wood for survival.

  • 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 hide in the stem’s cracks and crevices.
  • Australian roaches can also live around the base; you may think they are eating the tree.

Types of roaches found in woods

Pictures of wood cockroaches
Pictures of wood cockroaches

Most of the typical wooden roaches at home are from the genus Parcoblatta. They cannot destroy your wooden furniture or structures if they accidentally come indoors.

Wood cockroaches can also come indoors at night because light normally attracts them. However, you will always find them on wooden decks, porches, or patios, especially on a cold night.

1. The Panesthia Cribrata

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.

2. The wood cockroach

The adult is about an inch or longer 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 more than indoors since that is their natural habitat. They do not like living indoors; even if they come in, they will not survive or breed as the German or American cockroaches do.

3. American and German cockroaches

The common indoor roaches, I.e., the American and German cockroaches, are good at finding food. In most cases, they live in gaps and cracks in wooden structures and leave to find other types of food around the house.

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.

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.

How to stop cockroaches from eating wood

If you want to stop cockroaches from eating wood, ensure the wood surface is well-aerated and dry. Their mouthparts are not strong enough to chew through tough, dried wood. If you have wood piles in a store, you can treat them with motor oil to repel roaches and 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 is lots of wood stacked in an area, ensure enough air circulation so that moisture does not build up in them. Keeping the storage area constantly dark and humid will not only invite roaches. Several other pests will thrive in such an environment.

Those who have a natural fireplace indoors depend on firewood. How you store your firewood can also determine whether it will attract roaches to your fireplace. 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 shelter them away from danger. Any hole or deep crack in a wood block is moist and warm, and roaches can easily lay eggs and multiply in those. The moisture trapped there is also enough to soften the wood so roaches can easily eat them.

Therefore, sealing 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 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 eliminate cockroaches that eat wood. Mix equal parts of powdered chocolate and borax and spread them 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. You may seek a pest control expert for permanent solutions if it is a serious infestation.

4. Natural deterrents

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

Can cockroaches destroy wood?

Some roaches, like the Panesthia Cribrata, can eat and destroy wood. It is a big relief that they are not common indoors.

Roaches that destroy wood are common in northern Carolina and the Appalachian region. These roaches belong to the genus Panesthia and Cryptocercus can destroy wood.

After attacking, they will chew through the wood and even nest there. They will go ahead and reproduce. If they form a colony, these roaches can significantly destroy wood or a wooden structure.

Generally, one should not worry about them because it is rare to find them at home or near your wooden structures since they like them in the woods.

If a pile of wood is lying on the ground, moisture will build below it. The layers’ dark shade and hideouts will warm and humid the bottom area. 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.

Do Cockroaches Eat Wood?
Do Cockroaches Eat Wood?


Since wood roaches only feed on organic matter, they are not dangerous and cannot bite you. The chances of them attacking you or your pets are 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 not aggressive toward humans. Generally, almost all species of roaches do not attack or bite humans. They consider them enemies and will always try to avoid us. Even if roaches hide in your bed and mattress, they are never interested in biting you or your pets.


  • Felix Odi

    Hi, I’m an experienced author and content creator with over 18 years of experience as a publisher. Growing up in rural areas of Bristol, FL, I developed an interest in pest control, fish farming, and poultry keeping. Farming is a main activity in the area, and pests are always part of our major setbacks. I had to learn how to get rid of them with simple DIYs.