What are Palmetto Bugs
Palmetto bugs go by several different nicknames including American cockroach, waterbug, flying waterbug, Bombay canary, flying cockroach, and southern cockroach. However, Palmetto bugs can be classified as one of the following five types of roaches:
Types of Palmetto Bugs
- American roaches – At least 50 mm in length; reddish-brown; yellow band behind head; grayish brown nymphs; able to fly with fully-developed wings at adult stag.
- Australian cockroaches – Similar appearance to American roaches; smaller than American roaches (about 40 mm in length); yellow edge on thorax; yellow stripes near wings.
- Oriental cockroaches – Shiny black or dark brown; about 25 to 30 mm in length; short, useless wings on females; brown wings covering most abdomen area on males and can only fly two to three meters.
- Smokybrown cockroaches – About 45 mm in length; mahogany brown; good flyers; well-developed wings with length surpassing abdomen area.
- Florida Woods roaches – Also called “Stink Roaches”; known for releasing foul-smelling odors for predator protection; most “proper” name for Palmetto roaches; usually live around trees; very commonly found in Florida; 35 to 50 mm in length; color range – reddish brown to black; wide and glossy body; very small wings close to head yet appears wingless.
Nevertheless, all of these variations of Palmetto bugs share some commonalities including size in length (30 to 50 mm), dark color (reddish brown to black), ability to fly (especially toward light), and wide and glossy bodies. In addition, they all dwell in Palmetto trees, hence their name.
Risks of Palmetto Bugs
Despite their flying ability which can scare most people, Palmetto bugs are fairly harmless. While they rarely bite people, when they do, Palmetto bugs may leave a small, but a painless red mark on human skin. Because they tend to reside in unsanitary areas, Palmetto bugs can contaminate food with harmful bacteria like salmonella. They are also capable of triggering allergies and asthma.
Florida’s Connection to Palmetto Bugs
The scientific name of Palmetto bugs is Eurycotis floridana. As one of the largest roach species found in North America, Palmetto bugs are commonly found in Florida due to its ideal tropical conditions. In fact, many Floridians will warn that these bugs are just an inevitable part of life because they are so commonplace here. In other words, if visiting or planning to reside in Florida, expect to deal with these pests on a regular basis.
Signs of a Palmetto Bug Infestation
Due to their nocturnal, outdoor nature, Palmetto bugs are sometimes difficult to detect in the home. However, the following signs are indicative of a Palmetto bug infestation:
- Palmetto Bug Day Sighting – Sign of severe infestation; may see dead Palmetto bugs
- Shell Casings – Small, dark brown, and oval-shaped; found in several hidden places in kitchen, appliances, sinks and floor drains, and inside wall cracks
- Foul Odor – Strong, oily, and unpleasant smell; stemmed from poor bug hygiene; stronger odor when present in large numbers
- Shedded Skin – Body shell casings found in and around the house
- Fecal Matter – Black/brown, sandy-looking, grain-like matter; deposit while traveling throughout home; regurgitated food and fecal pellets
- Small Holes – Feeds off of nearly anything; holes found in fabric, books, and furniture.
Palmetto Bug Habitats
Palmetto bugs prefer warm, damp locations; in fact, they can live on water alone. They are commonly found outdoors; yet, they may be found indoors during extreme infestations and colder weather. Near homes, they are commonly found in nearby trees; sheltered outdoor areas e.g., under boards, under leaf litters, and in tree holes; compost piles; vegetable or flower beds; and shrubs. They are also found in outdoor garages and sheds that are near vegetation.
How to Prevent a Palmetto Bug Infestation
There are several tips for preventing palmetto bugs in and around your home or business, but if you still find that you are suffering from an influx of these roaches, contact a professional pest control company right away to remove the pests for you and help keep them from coming back.
- Close off all small holes, cracks, and crevices in your home with metal wood, mesh, or screens
- Eliminate all cardboard boxes from your home
- Close all trash cans with a tight-fitting lid
- Repair any leaking faucets and drains
- Empty pet food containers or place them in a plastic bag, especially at night
- Keep a clean kitchen and other areas where food is commonly used and consumed
- Vacuum or sweep house regularly