Can Roaches Eat Through Aluminum Foil?

I found an interesting conundrum the other day when researching the effects aluminum foil has on roaches. I always knew that a cockroach could eat through the foil to get to organic matter, human food, pet food, or anything else it wants to eat on the other side of the wrapper. What I didn’t know was that there was “evidence” that the flimsy metal could actually scare off this bacteria-laden filthy pest. 

Well, needless to say, I was confused and wanted to figure out if tin foil attracts roaches, repels roaches, and if they can eat through it every time. Eventually, I came to some interesting conclusions about food for roaches and the things they will chew through. Check out the exciting results below. 

Can Cockroaches Chew through Foil?

If you have even seen a roach infestation at a grocery store or hardware store, you will know that they will chew through anything short of steel wool to get to any organic material their excellent sense of smell reveals. Cardboard boxes, plastic containers, and aluminum foil food paks are some of their favorite dining and/or nesting spots. However, even common German cockroaches on kitchen counters won’t just start chomping on tin foil for no reason.

Often a cockroach will chew through foil when leaving a place that is suffering from an absence of food. As the cockroach population grows in dark cardboard boxes or between the gaps of spray foam insulation, some will try to find better access to food. Any foil whether on the back of the insulation or other aluminum foil matter used as a barrier, will be chewed through to get out. 

Food in foil wrap will always lead a roach to bite through and devour the food items. While the food in metal canisters that are airtight or even sealed food in glass containers can be kept safe from hungry roaches, cat food or real food in tin foil will not be safe. Place food in cockroach areas in plastic food containers or zip-lock bags rather than in tin foil for a better chance of keeping pests out. 

Will Roaches Gnaw through Foil?

Reynolds Wrap Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil, 50 Square Feet (Packaging May Vary)

Professional pest control companies know that roaches can chew through the foil and may use it to house baits or poisons. Foil can keep powders or chemicals together inside walls or other places out of reach of children until the roaches find it to dine. Then the pesticides can take effect and rid you of your roach problems. 

Trying to use foil as the only method of keeping roaches from reaching food is ineffective. While foil may be smooth, like the porcelain in the bathroom, it will not prevent roaches from climbing in the same way. They will gnaw and rip through and create footholds to climb. It also cannot work as a barrier unless it is folded hundreds of times, which would be time better spent on finding other ways to keep our favorite foods safe from roaches. 

Things Roaches Chew Through

As far as food-safe packaging goes, most materials will not be able to stop a roach from getting in. Effective pest control measures and clean well-sealed rooms are better solutions to keep food sources secure. Keeping food smells from reaching roaches can be a useful way to confuse pests and help keep food fresh longer. 

If roaches do get to where the food is, there is a chance they will be able to get into the packaging, so other methods to secure rooms and cabinets can be used to reduce the chance of a breeding ground in food storage areas. Steel wool shoved in cracks, gapless applications of inorganic silicone-based sealant, wires, and baking soda or borax added to spray foam insulation can all secure food rooms from roaches. 

Although roaches have strong jaws and mandibles and can bite through most materials, if given enough time, solid surfaces like intact concrete will not be chewable. Common materials like books, plastic, wood, cardboard, foils, and wrappers are regular snacks for roaches and below are the reasons they love them. 

ObjectChewabilityReason Roaches Gnaw
PlasticSomewhatTo get in, out, or eat and breed
WoodSomewhatTo get in, out, or eat and breed
CardboardVeryTo get in, out, or eat and breed
Tin FoilVeryTo get in, out, or eat and breed
DrywallVeryTo get in, out, or eat and breed

Does Aluminum Foil Attract Cockroaches?

It is the smell of food or the promise of a meal on the other side of tin foil that attracts the roaches. Factors like the reflective surface, color, or feel of foil are not typically part of a roach’s decision to approach the material. In some cases, foil along the base of kitchen cabinets and counters covered in oil or a lubricant can keep roaches from climbing, and they may be attracted to this setup. 

Cock roaches will always be attracted by food and will go through and into aluminum foil barriers to find it. Smarter roaches may begin to associate foil with wrappers and food, and come check out new trash that shines in this unique way. Eventually, cockroaches will figure out which foil is a wrapper that houses food and which is a construction material. 

Cockroach poisons and toxic baits in tin foil will lead them to approach. The bait smells of the foods roaches want, and the foil packs hidden in walls and crawl spaces may become areas roaches congregate in looking for a meal. Even as they die, more will come and check out the foil until the toxins have gone inert. 

Does Aluminum Foil Scare Roaches?

A common myth is that a roach will be startled by its reflection when crawling over aluminum foil and avoid it. While it may have been observed anecdotally, it shouldn’t be counted on as a reliable roach prevention method. Instead of using foil to convince roaches that there is a predator, it can be used for traps and barriers instead. 

Aluminum foil can prevent roaches from reaching food if it is used that way from the beginning. Most packaging is to keep food fresh and offers some protection but safeguarding your ingredients from a roach infestation is another situation entirely. You can use a lot of foil to seal food and put it in a place where the smell is likely to travel out and be detected. With enough layers of foil, even the toughest roaches should be left chomping nothing but tin. 

Tin foil can also be used to make traps or increase the difficulty of scaling walls and counters. If you use an adhesive and place foil at a 20-degree angle or steeper most roaches won’t be able to maneuver around that. You can increase the safeguards further by adding an oil or slippery solution to coat the smooth foil that you’ve placed where roaches climb. Keep doing this while applying pest control treatments to get rid of reaches chewing on aluminum foil once and for all.