Palmetto bug is a name that is used to describe the Florida woods cockroach, its scientific name is Eurycotis floridana. It is often found on palmetto trees, which is how it got its name. It is commonly found in Florida and other nearby coastal areas, and is one of the largest cockroach species found in North America.
Palmetto Bug Identification
The palmetto bug is reddish-brown to black in color and has very small wings (they have fore wings and lack hind wings). They do not often fly and are clumsy and slow runners. Just like most of the other cockroach species the palmetto bug adults have flat elongated bodies with a set of long antennae and six legs. They are normally 1.2–1.6 inches (30–40 mm) long.
The species’ egg case is dark brown in color, 0.55–0.63 inches (14–16 mm) long, and contains 21-23 eggs. The egg case has indentations that show where the eggs are located. When alarmed, the adults emit an extremely foul smelling glandular secretion, this method of defense is quite unpleasant and has earned them alternate names like skunk roach and Florida stink roach.
It is often confused with the American cockroach, and many people use the ‘palmetto bug’ name to refer to the two species. Both cockroach species are large, and up to around 2 inches (around 5 cm) and are also superficially similar. One method of distinguishing them is by observing how the insects in question move, since the American cockroach is a proficient flier and runs more quickly than the Florida woods cockroach. Another difference between the two is that American cockroaches are usually found in large numbers in buildings while the Florida woods cockroach prefer outdoor conditions.
Signs Of A Palmetto Bug Infestation
The most conclusive sign of a palmetto bug infestation is simply seeing them in your house, but because they are nocturnal insects and prefer living outdoors they aren’t always easy to spot. You can use the signs below to identify a palmetto bug infestation.
- Palmetto bug sighting – When a very severe infestation is present, the palmetto bug can often be seen during the day. Although this may not be true in all infestations, the severity of the palmetto bug infestation is directly proportional to the number of sightings during daylight hours. You can easily identify the palmetto bugs using the above descriptions. You may also see dead palmetto bugs.
- Shell Casing – One of the most common signs of palmetto bugs is the presence of their small dark brown oval-shaped shell casings. These are usually found in hidden areas such as, behind kitchen cabinets, behind dishes, behind refrigerators, stoves and sinks, under floor drains and inside of motors and major appliances and within wall cracks.
- Unpleasant Smell – Palmetto bugs give off a strong, oily odor, which becomes extremely pungent when they are in large numbers. Apart from the hygiene issues associated with a palmetto bug infestation in your home, their smell itself is quite unpleasant and it can easily permeate food that’s left exposed to the air.
- Shed Skin – As immature palmetto bugs shed their skin, you can easily see old body shells around your house during the infestations. These body casings may include parts of a casing or maybe whole.
- Fecal Matter – Palmetto bugs deposit fecal waste along the routes that they travel. Smaller palmetto bugs produce fecal waste that looks like black, sandy grains. You can also identify a palmetto bug infestation by sighting cockroach specks. These dark colored specks are regurgitated food and fecal pellets and they look like grains of ground pepper.
- Other Signs – Since palmetto bugs will feed on nearly anything, including fabric and books, you may notice small holes on some of your items. You may also observe brown matter on your books and furniture, which is regurgitated food.
Where Palmetto Bugs Are Found
They prefer damp locations, and do well in warm, damp climates. Their native habitats include areas such as , such as West Indies and Florida. The species is found mostly outdoors and isn’t considered a major pest in houses. However they may sometimes be found indoors especially in extreme infestations and during cold weather conditions.
When they are found near houses, they are usually living in the surrounding trees, sheltered outdoor locations, such as under boards and lumber, under leaf litter, in tree holes, and other crevices. They may also be found in compost piles, vegetable or flower beds and shrubs. Outdoor garages and sheds that provide access to vegetation may also shelter palmetto bugs.
How To Kill Palmetto Bugs In 9 Steps
- Caulk the crevices, holes and cracks in your home (you may also use steel wool or copper mesh ) so that palmetto bugs don’t find routes through which they can enter your home. You can also use wire screens in air vents, windows and floor drains.
- Remove cardboard boxes from your home – The honeycomb design of cardboard provides palmetto bugs and other cockroaches the perfect space for reproducing and hiding.
- Eliminate water and food sources that palmetto bug could use such as leaks, dripping faucets, pet food and water, and dirty kitchens makes your house less attractive to palmetto bugs.
- Use a trash can that has a tight fitting lid.
- Fix any leaky faucets and drains ; palmetto bugs can live on water alone.
- At night empty pet food containers, or place them in a plastic bag.
- Vacuum your house regularly, and restrict consumption of food to one of the rooms. This will help in preventing palmetto bugs from spreading into others areas of your home.
- Baits -You can lightly dust boric acid where you have seen the bugs. You can also make your own bait by mixing one part sugar, two parts flour and one part boric acid. Add enough water to form little cakes or balls.
- Spray pesticide – The best organic sprays for palmetto bugs are the citrus products. To avoid purchasing expensive pesticides make your own natural pesticide by mixing one tablespoon of black pepper, 3.5 grams of tobacco dust and one teaspoon of liquid dish-washing detergent. Spray the mixture in areas where you can see the bugs. If you want to get rid of an extreme palmetto bug infestation it is advisable that you seek the help of a pest control expert.
Remember to always put the baits and pesticides in areas where children and pets cannot reach.