Palmetto Bugs

What is a Palmetto Bug?

A Palmetto bug is another (nicer) name given to the generally nasty American cockroach.  Although adult palmetto bugs English: American cockroach
do have wings, they usually run very quickly and rarely fly. The Palmetto bug (American cockroach) is the largest cockroach to infest homes. Males and females grow to be about the same size (approximately 1 1/2 inches long) and they look very similar. Both have finger-like appendages called “cerci” that detect air currents, but males have an additional set of appendages called “styli” on their abdomens, these appendages can be used to differentiate the sex of the bugs. Young American cockroaches look like wingless adults.

Although palmetto bugs may set up camp in your house, these pests generally live outside. During winter months, roaches move inside looking for moisture and warmth.If you have cockroaches you have probably discovered that they like to nest and live in food preparation areas like kitchens, restaurants, grocery stores, and bakeries. They also like warm, moist locations like boiler rooms and sewers.

These are the conditions this pest prefers:

    • Outdoors
    • Moist, humid environment
    • Areas with easy access to water
    • Temperatures between 70°F and 85°F (cannot survive in temperatures at or below 15°F)

American cockroaches eat all sorts of things, including cosmetics, beer, cheese, bakery products, potted plant shoots, soiled clothing, wallpaper paste, starch in book bindings, postage stamps, hair, dead animals, and fermenting fruit. They have ever been known to nibble on humans but bites are very rare and usually only occur if the roach population is large, and the food supply is low.

Roaches produce a strong, unpleasant odor and you can often smell them before you actually see them. They also pose several health risks.

Bacteria problems:

    • Known to carry infectious bacteria on bodies and in guts.
    • Transfer infectious bacteria to food and other items cockroaches contact.
    • Bacteria can cause food poisoning, dysentery, and diarrhea.

Allergy problems:

    • Produce allergens on their bodies, in fecal matter and from shed skin.
    • Can cause allergic dermatitis and childhood asthma.

If you want to get rid of cockroaches you need to find them first. To do so, there are a few methods you can try:

    1. After dark, examine dark places with a flashlight to spot them.
    2. During the day, search hiding places by poking around with a wire, which will cause the roaches to come out and play.
    3. Use sticky traps to monitor where an infestation is occurring, and put them around your home and leave them in place for at least 24 hours.

Using traps works to detect roaches, but not as a method for population control.

Chemical treatments:


The most common active ingredients in American cockroach baits are: hydramethylnon, fipronil, abamectin, and imidacloprid.

    • Dusts are applied into cracks, crevices, and wall voids with a bulb duster or as an aerosol
    • Pastes and gels come in a syringe for application.
    • Most granular baits are used around the perimeter of a structure, but can be applied in wall voids using a bulb duster.

Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs):

Common active ingredients include hydroprene and pryipoifen.

    • Usually professional-use-only products
    • Slow-acting
    • Disrupt normal development of immature cockroaches making them sterile as adults
    • Roaches die of attrition
    • Available in spray or point-source dispensers

Inorganic Dusts:

Dusts and aerogels are respiratory irritants. They should always be use with extreme caution.

    • Applied for indoor control with a squeeze-bulb duster.
    • Dust puffs into cracks and crevices.


    • Silica aerogel dehydrates roaches.
    • Boric acid poisons roaches.

Chemical Sprays:

Always read the label and follow instructions and precautions precisely when using insecticidal spray.

Be cautious. Sprays should not be used to treat entire floors, walls, or ceiling, nor should they be used where food is prepared.

To use:

    1. Enter a dark room and turn on the light to see where roaches run—these are their hiding places.
    2. Spot treat the hiding places and pathways you just discovered; some of these may be under and behind loose baseboards.

Treating cracks / crevices and void spaces behind walls (where roaches spend the majority of their time) is more effective that spraying open spaces.

Non-Chemical Methods:

Seal Entry Points

    • Weatherproof windows and doors.
    • Screen vents in attics and crawlspaces.
    • Caulk around cracks in water pipes.

Eliminate Moisture

    • Fix any pipe leaks.
    • Store rinsed recyclables, like cans and bottles, outside and away from the house if possible.
    • Insulate pipes to prevent condensation.
    • Drain sinks, don’t leave standing water because it will attract thirsty roaches.

Don’t Feed The Pests! 

    • Clean up excess and spilled pet food daily.
    • Remove crumbs from behind stove and between cabinets with a vacuum hose.
    • Wash dishes immediately.
    • Keep leftovers in tightly sealed containers.
    • Take trash out nightly in tightly sealed receptacles.

Give them no place to hide!

  • Remove all clutter—boxes, bags, paper goods, old clothes, and magazines.
  • Trim vegetation that is close to your house. This

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