Palmetto Bugs vs. Cockroaches

Pests are something that almost every homeowner has experienced. One of the most common types of pest are cockroaches. So, what is the difference between a cockroach and a palmetto bug? Is there a difference? The answer may surprise you.

The Difference between Cockroaches and Palmetto Bugs

According to PestWorld, a palmetto bug is a common name that is regularly associated with various species of cockroaches and even some beetles found in the southeastern parts of the United States, predominantly in Florida and South Carolina. 

Certain species of cockroaches are often called palmetto bugs because they are found living in and near palmetto trees, a tropical plant with fan-like leaves. So, it turns out that cockroaches and palmetto bugs are indeed one in the same.

Different Types of Palmetto Bugs

According to the Smithsonian, there are 4,500 different species of cockroaches in the world! Fortunately, we don’t find all of them in the United States. However, palmetto bugs are often used to describe large cockroaches including, the Smoky Brown Cockroach, Florida Woods Cockroach and American Cockroach. 

Smoky Brown Cockroach:
Smokey Brown Roach

This roach is uniform in color, typically brownish-black and very shiny. They are good flyers and are attracted to lights at night.  They can be found in warm, dark, moist areas such as tree holes, ivy, mulch, woodpiles and soffits/eaves of attics with moisture problems. These pests have a reputation as being the most difficult to control because they are so active and have many habitat preferences.

Florida Woods Cockroach:

 This roach is often called the “stinking cockroach” because of the foul-smelling fluid it produces to protect itself from predators. They are mainly found in North and Central Florida and are commonly found in leaf mulch, wood piles and underneath rotting logs.

American Cockroach:
American Roach

This species is commonly referred to as “Palmetto Bugs” and is the largest of the roaches that infest homes. They have reddish-brown wings and are good flyers. They often invade from sewer systems and heavily mulched areas. They can be found nearly anywhere in a home and can contaminate food, carry disease, damage book bindings, fabrics and wallpaper. 

Behaviors and Habitats of All Palmetto Bugs

Palmetto bugs are known to live both inside and outside. When inside, they like to hide in places such as kitchens and cupboards. They can be found outside in sewers and wood piles. Additionally, while some of these roaches love the palmetto tree. If those trees are too close to a home, they have no problem making their way inside.

As with all cockroaches, palmetto bugs are a health threat because they can have encounters with humans after they emerge from unsanitary areas such as garbage storage, sewage systems and septic tanks. They can carry salmonella into your kitchen, which can cause food poisoning and gastroenteritis. Moreover, palmetto bugs can also induce asthma attacks and cause pneumonia.

What Homeowners Can Do to Prevent These Pests

Massey Services, a leader in pest prevention, offers these tips to combat palmetto bugs and cockroaches:

  • Roaches need water to survive. Eliminate any leaky pipes, and do not allow water to build up inside or outside of the home.
  • Most roaches are cannibalistic and will eat dead roaches if they are not cleaned up. That’s why it’s important to clean up all dead roaches in and around your home rather than attract and feed live roaches.
  • Larger roaches leave droppings that look like coffee grounds. Make sure there are no “coffee grounds” in any of your drawers or cabinets.
  • Roaches are most frequently spotted near garbage cans and refrigerators. Be sure to seal garbage cans, dispose of trash properly, and clean up any crumbs or food that is left out.
  • These tiny, flat creatures have the ability to sneak in through the tiniest cracks and crevices in the home. Make sure to seal off any openings.
  • Keep shrubbery and firewood away from the home, as well as newspapers, bags and clothing.

To prevent palmetto bugs and cockroaches, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) suggests keeping a meticulously clean kitchen, eliminating moisture in bathrooms, sealing all cracks and crevices inside and outside the home and keeping basements and crawlspaces dry and well-ventilated.

Homeowners are urged to contact one of our pest prevention service professionals at 1-888-2MASSEY (262-7739) or fill out the form below to schedule a free, no obligation inspection.

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