Do Ants & Roaches Live Together?
When it comes to ants and roaches living together the theme song might as well be “It’s a Small World After All.” Because if there’s one thing ants and roaches love more breeding like there’s no tomorrow, it’s congregating wherever people are found. That’s because we humans provide ants and roaches with three of their favorite things (after breeding, that is)—food, moisture, and shelter.
When it comes to food, ants and cockroaches can have pretty similar diets. While roaches aren’t as crazy about sugar as some ants, they will eat fatty, protein-laden food that grease ants love. This includes meat, nuts, cheeses, and peanut butter. Studies even hint that some cockroaches can follow ant scent trails to food sources. Of course cockroaches will eat disgusting things even ants will shun including dead animals, feces, and rotting garbage. Roaches will also feast on paper, glue, leather, and just about anything else they can fit in their dirty little mouths.
Moisture is another big draw in the small world of insects. Like most other living creatures, ants and roaches need water to survive. During dry seasons or prolonged droughts, the thirsty pests are drawn to leaking faucets, dank drains, and sweating pipes. Of course, the critters also absorb water from food but cockroaches will often seek a drink in the laundry room, bathroom, or kitchen.
In some species, ants and cockroaches can get positively chummy. The smallest North American cockroach, Attaphila fungicola, is less than 1/8th inch long. The tiny roaches, which are not considered pests, live in the nests of leaf-cutter ants. Fungicola often hitch rides on the (relatively) enormous heads of the worker ants.
The cockroaches mount the passing host ant by grabbing its bulbous posterior. Once attached to the ant, the roaches ride sidesaddle. Sometimes the roach causes the ant to tumble over so only the largest ants in the colony are chosen for steeds. But while these particular species have found a way to play horsey back, it is much more common for ants to attack and kill cockroaches. And judging by the numerous ant-roach death match videos on YouTube, it may be a small world after all, but not a very peaceful one when it comes to the world’s most numerous insects.