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Palmetto Bugs


Summary: Palmetto bugs are American Cockroaches, but with a more appealing name. These suckers are big, they can fly, and they aren't scared of anything or anyone. Palmetto bugs are creepy, but getting rid of palmetto bugs can be a cinch.

The easiest way to kill roaches that have made their way inside the house is to take a boot and smash them. I am not the least bit sympathetic towards such a rude trespasser. If you are skittish around big, flying, filth covered, insects that can bite (I did mention that they can bite, right?) as I am, then you can also use a pesticide like Tempo 1% dust. The dust should be sprinkled along the edges of walls or cabinets, or any other crack where there is evidence of roach activity like shed skins, brown fecal stains, or dead bodies. (Don't ask me why the dead bodies always seemed to be turned over on their backs with the legs curled up. That's a whole different article.) An insecticide duster could help you apply the Borax more efficiently. Don't want to touch pesticide? Go for the Advion Roach Bait Arena. It's large enough the handle the American cockroach.

You can start with your control efforts by applying Maxforce Complete Granular Insect Bait around the exterior foundations. Palmetto bugs love it and so do all the various ant species.

If I had to vote in a contest for world's ugliest animal I would have to cast my ballet for the Palmetto Bug. These things are gross. It also has horrible manners.

Palmetto bugs are reddish brown and grow up to two inches in length. It is also known as the American cockroach. It has a pair of large wings on its back that can be used for flying, but wings that are tough enough to act like a shield when the cockroach is on the ground. Palmetto bugs need moisture to survive and only live in warm, tropical climates. It can be found outdoors across the southern United States, but is also a common insect found in commercial facilities with high heat and humidity.


The reason I say that Palmetto bugs have horrible manners is not only because they invade homes in search of food or to avoid cool weather. It is bad enough that they come in uninvited, but they also leave excrement in the cracks and crevices where they inhabit. The Palmetto bug feeds on any kind of organic material and this often includes garbage or sewage waste. They can get inside by way of sewer connections and they can track in bacteria laden particles. This contamination can lead to health problems like food poisoning, dysentery, and diarrhea. Cockroaches molt as they age, shedding their skins as their bodies grow larger. These shed skins can cause allergy problems for people sensitive to them, and can contribute to childhood asthma.

Once, while in New Orleans, I saw a cockroach on a kitchen counter. I think it saw me, too. I'm pretty sure of this, because the cockroach stood up on its back legs, making the terrifyingly large bug appear even bigger, and it hissed at me. Apparently Madagascar hissing cockroaches aren't the only species of roaches that can audibly alert you to their discontent. Next, there was a kind of showdown. The cockroach spread its wings. It seemed to be gauging my reaction to determine if I would have the courage to confront it with the shoe I had taken off of my foot for the purpose of squashing it. Sensing that I was indeed planning on making a move, the cockroach leapt into the air with a flurry of beating wings and flew straight towards my face, sending me ducking for cover. The battle ended with me grabbing a can of Raid so I could kill the roach from a distance. I would have to say the Palmetto bug won that showdown. See what I mean about horrible manners?


Most American cockroaches are probably not that aggressive, but they are noted for not scattering from light like many other species of roach. Luckily, they are also not as difficult to get rid of as smaller roach species like the German cockroach. Palmetto bugs have a comparatively slow reproduction rate, and their large size makes them easier to exclude from buildings than smaller species. Palmetto bugs can be kept out by adding weather stripping under doors, adding wire mesh barriers over storm drains and crawl space vents, and by caulking the cracks around water pipes that might be providing an entryway into a home. Fixing leaky pipes can also take away a water source that the roaches might be depending on.

Still too complicated? Buy a cat. Palmetto bugs make fantastic toys for fun loving felines. Or, simply call the local exterminator to solve your pest control needs.

Ask Rick A Question


01 Sep 2011, 01:40
ahh i got attacked by a bunch my house was litterally infested bye these pest. i was helping my mom and we have a little plant tree in our back yard and when my mom sprayed the pesticide zoom hundreds hundreds came out and climbed the tree unfortunatly i was right under the tree and there i was screeching while the huge palmetto bug raced around my neck and my mom farced me to stand still and i was shivering in fear and she sqished it on my shoulder oh god i will never for get that day ugh!
27 Oct 2011, 18:23
I was surprised when I read that these things bite. I was bitten in my bed last night by one and had to do a little research on here to see if that is common. Felt like an ant bite. I'm staying at my Mom's to help her as she has Dementia and she is infested with them. She is on a monthly maintenance program with Cook's Pest but it is only scratching the surface. The cat thing doesn't work. Mom has 5 and they ignore them. Plus the cat food is adored by these things. Are the Maxforce granules safe to use around pets ?
Ask the Exterminator
27 Oct 2011, 20:43
Yes, when used as directed. The granules are used outside around foundation walls. Read and follow the label!
10 Nov 2011, 20:53
I am emptying a storage unit in South FL. Contents are mainly boxes of books/files and misc household items. I have had the unit for about 2 years. I want to load everything in a rental truck and bug bomb before moving the stuff into my home. I am concerned about roaches and any other types of insects in there. I have no way of knowing what may be hiding unless I unpack everything in my home. What is the best way to handle this type of situation? Should I double up on a certain type of bug spray and let it sit sealed in the truck for 4 hours?
Ask the Exterminator
15 Nov 2011, 07:16
Bug bombs will kill insects if the insects are exposed, but it won't do a thing to the insects that are hidden deep inside the boxes. Only unpacking the boxes and inspecting for insects will assure you of no hitchhikers.
Morgana Haertjens
13 Apr 2012, 02:59
I live in Palm Bay Fl, and have a pretty wild backward. Pepper trees NOT included but HUGE oaks and Palmetto Trees (Floridas PROTECTED palm BTW) Any whooo a huge storm came through 3 weeks ago...1st of the season, and all of the sudden our bedroom has them all over the place. I handles it untill last night when at 2AM a small one burrowed into my EAR.

NASTY and FREAKED me out. Of course I poured rubbing alcohol in my ear while my husband was on the net looking things up....and I dropped to my KNEES in pain. They bight, scratch hiss and click.

He took my VERY expensive 1st cold press olive oil to chill it out...but let me tell you...the can and will do that.

I dont know what was worse, the embarrassment of having to go to the er TO HAVE IT REMOVED BY WHICH TIME MY HUSBAND WAS begging THEM TO SEDATE ME i WAS sooooo PISSED, OR THE FACT THAT WHAT i THREW ON TO LEAVE WAS A bad CHOICE...

Sorry for the caps, this just happened last night and I REFUSE to sleep any where but the couch right now.


But right now the house is at 69 degrees and they are hidden, but Pyrithra cans and a pro exterminator is coming Tuesday.

Suggestion, if your cats or dogs get bored with chasing them and you have smashed more than 10 in one day....WEAR EAR PLUGS when sleeping. They love the folds of sheets, and emit a HORRIBLE smell when in those numbers. And love humidity. If you make the mistake of not shaking your sheets, and your ear is on the pillow, what do you think they would crawl into for warmth and humidity. And ladies, dont wear loose leggins when in bed if you have that problem .....


20 Apr 2012, 01:18
do they bite are they harmfull to my children????...
08 Jun 2012, 00:20
Oh my gosh! I hate them so much! I didn't know they actually BIT folk! At first, I felt a little ridiculous about my undying fear of the palmetto bug, but now it's safe to say my phobia is JUSTIFIED. See, I just recently discovered there were more than one type of roach in the house. I just heard about waterbugs and how they differ from wood roaches-which s what we called all big roaches. And now I'm finding out there is nt only a wood roach, but a waterbig and now a palmetto bug, and I think those are the ones we mainly get. They are tid smaller than woods and I was a little less creeped out by them(a little) but now I'm even more freaked out. Effing hate those things and we get all three.
26 Mar 2013, 20:39
I have used all kinds of bug killer,even Ortho but the best and cheapist is made by Shaklee,it's called Basic H and it works. Just fill a dollar store spray bottle with water and about a tablespoon of Basic H,it kill ywice as fast and a bottle of Basic H makes 50 gallons of spray.
Ask the Exterminator
27 Mar 2013, 13:30
According to Shaklee's website, Basic H is not a legally registered insect repellant, yard spray, or soil adjuvant. Your use of the product goes against the label.
13 Apr 2013, 15:37
I've seen these bugs in my dishwasher as they climb up the front and enter through the dishwasher door vent. Is there anything that I can spray into the vent to keep them out? Also, there are openings along the sides and tops of the dishwasher that I have seen one that I was doing battle with run into. What can I spray in there to discourage them hiding there? I don't like poisons, but I've had it with them. I currently rely on a good old fly swatter which works much better than a shoe. I have to laugh when I wack them because they are sooo dramatic once they are about to die. You have recommended a product for use outside the foundation of a house. Can the same productbe used indoors, and if so, where? Thanks in advance.
02 Oct 2013, 13:19
I currently live in Memphis, and am moving further north. I was wondering if they travel like other roaches I'm used to? Or do they stay in warmer more humid climates? And also how do I make certain that I'm not carrying them while I move?
Creeped out
11 Sep 2014, 12:51
We live in the Sandhills of NC and we see these suckers every year but for some reason they're making themselves at home in our house more frequently this summer. We used to be under contract with an exterminator to keep all the unsavory critters away but when we found our Koi pond's resident Pig Frog looking unhealthy and eventually declining into seizures we assumed it was the exterminator's chemicals and called off any future treatments. Do you know of any products professional exterminators can use to treat our home/yard that WILL NOT be harmful to either our Koi or their pet frogs?
Thank you for any assistance you can offer.
Ask the Exterminator
11 Sep 2014, 16:04
Pesticides and frogs simply don't mix. So, you cannot spray the general lawn area. However, you can use granular insecticide around the foundation of the house to help ward off occasional invaders. Make sure your door thresholds are well sealed, as well.

28 Jan 2015, 13:07
I have huge palmetto bugs crawling up my kitchen sink drain as well as both shower drains. They also hide in the door jam at the entry to my home. How can I stop them?
john callaghan
01 Feb 2015, 18:07
how small are palmetto bugs at birth can they get and stay on you at that stage? some one put them in my car and I am homeless in my care know, I feel something crawling all over me will the palmetto bugs at a little stage come in contact with you for warmth and food and water? I sweet,I have dead skin cells,and I am warm.can I get real sick from them? I have sprayed my car 4 months ago but I know that there not gone. Help me. I do not have lice in any way. I still can keep my self clean.
17 Jun 2015, 13:06
Does garlic plants or catnip plants dieter roaches from coming into the yard?
Nancy Worthington
20 Jul 2015, 23:44
My daughter just moved to Charlotte, SC & tofilthy things ?ld me tonight about these disgusting creatures. Funny how they don't say a word about them in the tourism book. Anyway she kept her lights on all last night because of seeing one in the master BR. After reading these articles & seeing how putrid they are I understand. She has small children. What is the very best thing to cut down on the number of these biting (!)
Ask the Exterminator
21 Jul 2015, 10:07
Palmetto bugs, or American cockroaches as they are technically referred to, live outdoors during the hot weather in your part of the country. Remove leaf litter and old mulch from along foundation walls. Cut back over-hanging trees. Turn off night lights and make sure your windows and doors are sealed well. Bad door thresholds invite these roaches inside. You can also apply a granular insecticide along the foundation, but follow the label instructions carefully.
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