Palmetto Bug Facts
“Palmetto bug” is actually a common nickname for the American cockroach. Other nicknames include waterbug, flying waterbug and the Bombay canary. The palmetto bug earned its nickname because it likes to hide under the safe and shaded leaves of palm trees. These pests were accidentally introduced to the United States through trade with Africa.
Palmetto Bug Bites
It is very unusual for palmetto bugs to bite people. Just like humans, these cockroaches eat both plants and meat, so sometimes, in extreme infestations, cockroaches have been known to nibble on people when there is no other food available. Palmetto bug bites are not serious and should cause nothing more than a small red mark.
Palmetto bugs carry a variety disease-causing pathogens from their tendency to hide in unsanitary areas like sewers and drains, and eat decaying food scraps and animals. These cockroaches can easily contaminate kitchen counters, clean dishes and food. Digestive diseases are the most common illnesses people get from palmetto bugs. Symptoms include vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea. Some people have allergic reactions to cockroaches or their shed skins and droppings. Allergic reactions to cockroaches include sneezing, rashes and even asthma attacks.
Palmetto Bug Infestation
Palmetto bugs like to hang out in large groups, sometimes in hundreds or thousands, and hide in safe places that are damp and dark. They often seek shelter under palm leaves, in hollow trees, among shrubs and in woodpiles. The foundation of your house, near your pool, in your sprinkler system and even under your roof shingles are all prime real estate for these cockroaches.
You will most likely notice these insects at night, when they are most active. This is when palmetto bugs search for food. Like most cockroaches, they will eat almost anything whether it’s food scraps in the garbage or the glue from bookbindings. They especially like sweet and starchy foods. These resilient insects can live for 2 to 3 months without food and a month without water.
Female palmetto bugs will make one egg capsule of 14 to 16 eggs each week and can lay anywhere from 15 to 90 capsules in a lifetime. The egg capsule is less than a half inch long and dark brown. The female will usually hide it in a safe place near food. The young will hatch in less than two months. Palmetto bug nymphs are a grayish brown when they first hatch and will continue to darken and get more brown as they molt. They will molt 9 to 13 times before it becomes an adult. Palmetto bugs, especially the females, can live for a year and sometimes longer.
Types of Palmetto Bugs
Palmetto Bug Identification
Commonly described as: American cockroach, waterbug, flying waterbug and the Bombay canary
Among the cockroaches that frequently invade houses, palmetto bugs are the largest. These reddish brown cockroaches can grow as long as 1.5 inches or more. Both males and females have wings.
Palmetto Bugs In The Home & The Apartment
During flooding or other times when outside conditions are unsuitable, these insects will migrate indoors and that’s when you find palmetto bugs in your home. They like to hide in dark, moist spaces like basements, sewers, crawl spaces, drains and even your dirty laundry basket! You may also find them near the bathtub or garbage can.
Since palmetto bugs are rarely seen during the day, you may not notice a problem until there is a big infestation. Know the signs of palmetto bug damage so that you can catch a palmetto bug infestation as soon as possible. These pests give off a distinct musty smell. Look for chew marks on curtains, stamps, envelopes and bookbindings — palmetto bugs love to eat anything with glue or starch. You may also notice shed skins and droppings, that look like pepper flakes, in cracks and crevices around your home.
Frequently Asked Questions About American Cockroaches
Do palmetto bugs bite?
American cockroaches much like most species stick to a diet of plants, garbage or decaying meat, so biting humans is unlikely. They would be more likely to bite someones fingernail, eyelash or hair. Their bites are not harmful.
Do palmetto bugs fly?
Both males and females have wings and can fly. These cockroaches will fly short distances and will even glide if launching from the top of a building or tree. It is rare to see palmetto bugs flying in cooler temperatures, when the thermometer dips down below 85°F.
What attracts palmetto bugs?
American cockroaches love warm, tropical weather. Inside your home they look for the darkest, dampest spot. You would most likely find them along sewers, in crawlspaces, under sinks or in tub drains.
Benefits of Professional Palmetto Bug Pest Control
A pest management professional has the education, equipment and skills to effectively address a palmetto bug problem. Finding and treating the palmetto bugs can be challenging because they tend to hide during the day. A pest management professional provides their expertise to identify the pest problem and determine the best possible solution to resolve the palmetto bug infestation.