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Can Roaches Eat Through Tape?

Cockroaches are skilled when it comes to breaking down large bits of food, and they are wonderful escape artists when it comes to evading traps. 

But can roaches chew through a piece of tape blocking their way, or on a glue trap?

In theory, roaches may be able to chew through tape if it’s thin enough. Cockroaches can eat through paper, cardboard, and thin plastic, but they need a reason to bite into these things. Generally, roaches aren’t going to chew through tape because it isn’t food, and it would usually take them far too long.

What Can Roaches Chew Through?

A cockroach lying on its back beside a food.

Cockroaches don’t have incredibly strong mouths or sharp teeth, but there are some objects they can chew through if it helps them get to food. 

Their mouths have complex fixtures, much like other insects. 

The front part of the mouth, or “labrum”, pulls food toward their mouths, in place of arms or hands. 

Behind the labrum are the mandibles. These are sharp, pincer-like structures that allow roaches to tear food into manageable pieces. 

Next, they use a secondary chewing structure that grinds food into smaller pieces, and the labium, which keeps food from falling out of their mouths. 

The mandibles refer to the parts of the roach’s mouth we would associate most with teeth, and those that help roaches tear into larger objects.

Since the cockroaches’ sharp mandibles are tiny and not particularly strong, they tend to prefer soft or rotten pieces of food.

Roaches usually go after human food, but they are also capable of eating other insects and plant matter. They aren’t afraid to overcome any obstacle in order to reach food. 

Cockroaches can easily chew through items like paper, thin plastic wrappers, and even thin plastic bags. 

Sometimes roaches will chew through paper, and even clothing, if they think it’s food. The fibers in paper and clothing can be digested by some cockroaches, thanks to the bacteria in their gut, making these things potential food sources. 

Tape is usually made of some sort of plastic. It’s not likely that a cockroach could, or rather would, chew through a piece of tape. This is the same reason they don’t usually bite people: biting isn’t a defensive or offensive mechanism for cockroaches. They typically only bite pieces of food they intend to eat. 

If a cockroach runs into a piece of tape that blocks its way, it will most likely just try to get around it, not chew through it. 

Even if a roach gets stuck to a piece of tape, like a glue trap, this won’t usually trigger biting.

Unless the tape smells like food or the roach wants to sample some of the glue on the tape, it most likely wouldn’t use its mandibles to bite into it. 

Roaches can, however, eat through materials like aluminum foil, rubber, and other soft materials. 

However, roaches don’t typically bite unless they’re trying to eat something. 

This is really the crux of the issue. Given enough time and motivation (such as food scents), cockroaches could theoretically chew through thin tape. 

But in almost all cases, they would have no reason to do so. 

Can I Use Tape As A Roach Trap?

One of the safest and most popular traps for cockroaches is the glue trap. 

Glue traps are basically made of a strip of plastic or paper with glue on one side. They can be used with or without bait. When a roach walks over the glue, it gets stuck to the trap. 

These traps are essentially the same thing as most kinds of tape. 

Duct tape can work well as a roach trap, especially if you get the kind that is extra sticky.

Placing any kind of bait (like a dollop of peanut butter) in the middle of the tape is all the bait you really need to do in order to attract roaches. When they walk onto the tape in search of food, they will get stuck. 

For larger roaches, like the American cockroach, be sure to place the tape with the sticky side facing upwards. The roaches’ weight is enough to get them stuck to the tape. 

For smaller and lighter roaches, like the German cockroach, it’s better to put the sticky side down. When they squeeze under the tape to get to the peanut butter, their backs will get stuck to the tape. 

Once you’ve trapped a roach or two, you can easily pick up the tape by one end and dispose of it in the trash (or in an incinerator).

Using tape to make your own cockroach traps is easy and cost-effective. However, if you find that you’re catching roaches in your own traps every day, it’s recommended to call a professional. 

If there are that many roaches in your home, this is a sign of a large infestation. It’s likely that you won’t be able to eliminate them just by putting out a few glue traps.

Can Roaches Escape Duct Tape?

For best results, ensure you’re using fresh, sticky duct tape. 

When a roach gets stuck, it will struggle as it tries to escape. If you use older tape or a weaker one that isn’t very adhesive, roaches are more likely to break free and escape. 

Roach-Proof Food Storage

Jar containers with spices inside.

Roaches can bite through Zip-Loc bags, thin plastic containers, and aluminum foil. Since they are especially motivated by the foods inside these items, how can you safely store foods so roaches can’t get to them?

One of the best options for food storage around roaches is to ensure that you’re using airtight containers. 

The scent particles from food are what attract the roaches if they can’t see the food. Using thicker plastic containers that don’t let out any air will contain food odors that attract roaches. 

Thicker Zip-Loc bags are also okay, as long as they’re tucked away in your refrigerator and they’re properly sealed. 

Glass containers are perhaps the best way to keep cockroaches out of your food. 

Roaches can’t bite their way through the glass, even if they can smell the food inside. 

You’ll also want to avoid leaving any food out on your counter as much as possible. Be sure to clean up any leftover food crumbs after cooking or eating. 


In theory, roaches can chew through the tape, but they’re highly unlikely to try. In order for cockroaches to bite or chew through an object, they have to be trying to eat it or get to the food inside the container.

Using airtight containers is the best way to keep cockroaches away. Tape can serve as a solid temporary barrier to any potential entry points of your home, or as a trap.