The Truth About Palmetto Bugs in Southwest Florida

I’ve heard a lot of people say that they don’t have cockroaches, they’re just “palmetto bugs”. But are they really?

Florida Woods Cockroach aka Palmetto Bug

Since it’s officially summer and calls regarding roach control are on the rise, I thought I might shed some light on our friend the palmetto bug.

The palmetto bug is also known as the Florida woods cockroach and the truth is, you aren’t very likely to see one in your home. They are what Floridians find in their saw-palmetto fan palms and cabbage palms.

Old timers originally called the Eurycotis Floridana “palmetto bugs” when they were cutting and collecting heart of palm for food. The most identifying characteristic of the true palmetto bug is the foul smell it emits when disturbed. So, If it moves slowly and stinks when you squash it, then you might have actually seen a palmetto bug. Otherwise, we’re sorry to tell you, it’s probably a bacteria carrying, virus spreading cockroach!

Now that we have that straightened out, here are the 4 most common types of roaches you WILL find in Florida homes:

The American Cockroach (a.k.a. “Waterbug”) – Up to 2 inches long, they love our hot, humid Florida weather. American roaches are commonly found in damp places like basements and sewers, but they are scavengers and will eat just about anything, so you’ll also find them hanging around food preparation areas as well.

The Brown-banded Cockroach – About a 1/2 inch in length, brown roaches prefer warm, dry locations, so while they can still be found in kitchens and bathrooms, they are also found in bedrooms, living rooms and closets more than other roaches. The brown-banded cockroach prefers feeding on starchy materials. However, they can be found feeding on almost anything, and have been known to chew on such non-food materials as nylon stockings (presumably for the residues of body oils and skin flakes).

The Oriental Cockroach – About 1.25 inches long, the Oriental cockroach is generally found outdoors, but during times of drought, may venture inside. Once indoors, you may find them in high moisture places such as sewers and drains. They prefer to feed on all sorts of decaying matter, making them especially fond of garbage bins. They are seldom found on walls or in furniture and cabinets.

The German Cockroach – This is the one you really need to keep a watchful eye out for. Because they are smaller than many other species, they can more easily hide and evade humans. Controlling German cockroaches takes expertise and persistence due to their rapid reproductive rate. At least 95% of the populations must be eliminated during initial treatment or they will return. Baits are an effective way of controlling them, but correct placement in cracks and crevices near harborage areas is critical.

No matter what type, cockroaches pose a serious risk to you and your family. The saliva, droppings and decomposing bodies of cockroaches contain allergen proteins known to trigger allergies and increase the severity of asthma symptoms, especially in children. They are also capable of transmitting disease organisms, such as the bacteria that cause food poisoning, and are known to spread 33 different kinds of bacteria, six parasitic worms and at least seven other kinds of human pathogens.

Here are some things you can do to reduce your risk of finding roaches in your home:

  • Do not allow dirty dishes to accumulate and remain in the sink overnight
  • Keep food scraps in the refrigerator or in containers with tight-fitting lids
  • Remove garbage from your home on a routine basis and vacuum regularly
  • Periodically check and clean the evaporation pan under the refrigerator or freezer
  • Seal cracks around the outside of the home to prevent pest entryways

15 Household Bugs in Southwest Florida That May Freak You OutTo learn more about this and 14 other Household Bugs in Southwest Florida That May Freak You Out, download our free ebook now!

If you suspect you have an infestation, contact us to identify the species and recommend a course of treatment.  Call (800) 314-8813 or contact us online for a free inspection and quote. Please feel free to leave us any questions or comments below. Your feedback could very well help others seeking information about roach control for their home.

If you found this blog post helpful, share it with your friends! Thanks! -Keith