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Do Cockroaches Bite?

From plants to animals, including roaches, nature has designed every living being to defend itself from predators and other environmental insults. However, no matter how timid the living creature be when it comes to survival, it will try to fire back. The same is the case with roaches, and you might be thinking do cockroaches bite?

Yes! Cockroaches bite humans (Living and Dead) when survival depends on it, like extreme food scarcity or when roaches feel highly threatened. The roach bites cause an allergic reaction or dermatitis with the following looks,

  1. Size of a pinhead,
  2. Diffuse borders
  3. Multiple roach bite marks
  4. Inflammed and reddened roach bite marks
  5. Mostly on uncoverd areas such as feet, hand, neck and face. (Refrences 1 and 2)

Every living thing is created with a purpose. Cockroaches exist because they are excellent decomposers and eat anything from garbage to filth and meat. If it were not for roaches, our landfills and gutters would be packed up to the sky. However, this characteristic of roaches can sometimes be a problem when they bite humans, primarily babies (Discussed in detail in the Blog Below).

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Why Do cockroaches bite?

Cockroaches are timid creatures; they shy away from any moving object, whether a human or a robot. This is why they come out at night searching for food and daily chores. In the daytime, cockroaches hide away in their nest and stand still like they are frozen in time.

A typical household has the capability to rear only a number of roaches. When food, water, and shelter become scarce, competition among roaches increases. This is why cockroaches opt for other options, i.e., biting people. Moreover, when a colony of roaches is disturbed, they are likely to bite people or scratch the body with their spiky legs.

In short, cockroaches bite because,

  1. Cockroaches are desperate and mistake human body for food.
  2. In self defence, when they are disturbed.
  3. In case of heavy infestation cockroaches bite on exposed body parts when human are sleeping (mostly babies).

What does a roach bite look like

Cockroaches bite very rarely; therefore, the exact description is complicated, however, like other bug bites, the roach bite reacts in 4 ways combined (Classical signs of inflammation),

  1. Increase tempratures of the area (Calor)
  2. Pain (Dolor)
  3. Redness (Rubor)
  4. Swelling (Tumor)

The above factor combined, the roach bite looks like pinhead-sized multiple small inflamed patches with diffuse borders. They are located on the uncovered parts of the body like feet, hands, neck, and face.

Pictures of Cockroach Bite

A handicapped male patient with multiple cockroach bites on his arm. Source (Larry Mellick, MD).
A handicapped male patient with multiple cockroach bites on his arm, Source (Larry Mellick, MD).
A handicapped male patient with multiple roach bites on legs, Source (Larry Mellick, MD).
A handicapped male patient with multiple roach bites on legs, Source (Larry Mellick, MD).

45-Year-old female patient with inflamed cockroach bite on her abdomen, Source (Larry Mellick, MD).
45-Year-old female patient with inflamed cockroach bite on her abdomen, Source (Larry Mellick, MD).

Are cockroach bites dangerous?

Cockroaches have long-established themselves as the enemy of humans. This is because they transfer diseases like typhoid and paratyphoid fever, and other dangerous bacteria have also been isolated.

Moreover, cockroaches trigger allergies in atopic people. The allergic reaction is usually to cockroach or their products, including eggshells, desquamated exoskeleton, and cockroach poop. In addition, cockroaches trigger asthma episodes in atopic individuals.

The bite of cockroaches has long been established in sailors at sea. Several people reported cockroach bites at sea and had to wear gloves to avoid cockroach bites.

However, cockroach bites are usually trivial, with slight inflammation and swelling in most cases. But the bite can be dangerous if the bite site gets infected or the roach transfers bacteria while bitting.

Therefore, roach bites should be observed for a few days until complete resolution or consult a registered doctor if the bite worsens.

Do roaches have teeth?

Cockroaches don’t have teeth but they bite using their mouthparts known as Mandibles. The pair of mandibles have sharp teeth-like edges that help chew food and other items.

According to recent research, it is observed that cockroaches use a combination of fast and slow-twitch muscle fibers to give their mandibles (jaw or a jaw bone) a “force boost” that enables them to chew tough materials.

The amazing fact is that they only activate slow-twitch muscle fibers while chewing on tough materials like wood that require repetitive hard biting to generate a bite power that is 50 times stronger than their own body weight. (Source)

Cockroaches can only bite. They do not sting like bees as they don’t have this capability. Their mouthparts do not include anything that could be called a sting. Moreover, unlike bed bugs whose bites are usually found in groups in a straight line, a palmetto bug bite only appears one at a time.


Although cockroaches rarely bite people, you should never take it lightly in case of heavy infestation. Two types of roaches are notorious for biting humans German and American roaches. Therefore they should be exterminated professionally at all costs.

Additional Read!