ABC Blog

Can You Guess Orlando’s Most Hated Pest?

What’s dark brown, winged, and lives in even the cleanest of homes? We’re talking about palmetto bugs.

Also known as the Florida woods cockroach, palmetto bugs are prevalent in damp regions with high humidity and tree cover. We’ve encountered many homes overrun by these particularly troublesome insects, especially in the late summer months. We’ve compiled a few of our most frequently asked customer questions and useful tips to eliminate Orlando’s most hated pest.

roaches spread bacteria and affect allergies and asthma

Palmetto Bug FAQ’s:

Question: Is it a palmetto bug or something else?

Answer: Knowing what the bugs, their nymphs, and their eggs look like is a good way to determine whether or not you are dealing with palmetto bugs.

Full-grown palmetto bugs are dark brown and range in size from 1 to 2 inches, with long thick antennae. They do have short forewings but rarely fly. Their tiny, brown, oval-shaped egg sacks are only about 15mm in length but can contain 20-23 eggs. Palmetto bug nymphs, which range from a few centimeters to a half-inch in size, are present in areas where palmetto bugs have begun to nest. The presence of nymphs and eggs is a sign of infestation.

Question: Do palmetto bugs make noises?

Answer: “Crunch.” The sound of stepping on a palmetto bug is probably the loudest noise attributed to these pests.

Aside from the fluttering of wings or the clicking and scampering sounds that a variety of bug species make, palmetto bugs don’t typically make a lot of noise. However, some species of cockroaches do hiss and chirp.

American Cockroach

American cockroach with longer wings

Question: What’s the difference between a palmetto bug and other cockroaches?

Answer: Palmetto bugs, which are sometimes referred to as water bugs despite the fact that they do not live in water, are found primarily here in Florida and in other coastal states. American and german cockroaches are also found in Florida, but they can dwell anywhere across the U.S. The key difference between these primary species of cockroaches is body shape, color, wing-span, and size.

American cockroaches are slightly lighter brownish red in color and have longer wings, while german cockroaches are only about a half-inch in size and are very light gray with smaller wings. German cockroaches do not fly very well compared to the larger-winged roach species.

All three species produce oothecae (egg sacks) that look fairly similar to the untrained eye. And all of them can infest a building.

Question: Do palmetto bugs pose health risks?

Answer: Yes. Cockroaches carry bacteria into your home. They can crawl into pantries and cabinets where cookware, plates, and cutlery are kept, effectively spreading the infectious bacteria to your food source. We most often find palmetto bug nests in and around the kitchen area.

It is very unlikely for a cockroach to bite a human, in normal circumstances. They are omnivorous, meaning they eat meat and plant-based substances, but they do not feed on humans or our blood the way other insects, like mosquitos, do.

nymph-sized baby water bugs sign of infestationQuestion: How do I know if I have a roach infestation?

Answer: If you see multiple dead adult roaches around your home, multiple nymph-sized immature roaches, and the tiny oval-shaped egg sacks, you may have an infestation on your hands. If you think you have these roaches hiding in your home, look to the dark corners and damp spaces, like under the refrigerator and in the pantry or laundry room. A serious infestation may be identified by a strong musty smell that is often associated with these bugs.

Question: Will palmetto bugs try to crawl into my ears, nose, or mouth while I am asleep?

Answer: It might sound silly, but people really do ask this question. No, roaches do not intentionally try to crawl inside living people’s heads.

It is true that cockroaches like damp and dark hiding spots, but your ear and mouth is also attached to the rest of your body. Cockroaches will avoid a human if they know they’ve encountered one because humans are perceived as a threat.

That said, it isn’t uncommon to find a palmetto bug crawling on your bed if your bed is in the travel path between the insect’s entry point or nesting area and the food source it is trying to reach. Keep in mind that the hiding place may be under your bed.

If you DO find much smaller brown bugs in your bed, you likely have a bed bug problem on your hands.


DIY Home Care to Beat the Bugs

The one question we don’t have to answer is whether or not your family wants to get rid of palmetto bugs. Of course you do!

The truth is that even the cleanest of homes are subject to an occasional invader from the outdoors. But there are a few things you can do to minimize the chances of an infestation.

  • Do the dishes. Roaches of all kinds will go wherever food is available to them, and that means a sink full of dirty dishes will be a magnet for these pests.
  • Keep your pantry, laundry room, closets, and other dark storage areas of your home organized. De-cluttering your space leaves little room for cockroaches to hide.
  • Keep lids on trash cans and pet food.
  • If you live around a lot of tree cover and foliage, you are likely to see a palmetto bug or two around your property. Make sure your windows are screened off from the outdoors.

If you have spotted a few cockroaches you can take steps to eliminate them on your own.

  • Roach motels won’t keep palmetto bugs away, but they will tell you whether or not you have a problem.
  • You can find boric acid in the detergent aisle of the drug store. Sprinkle boric acid around entry points and in areas that are vulnerable to cockroaches. If you have pets and children, make sure they cannot access and ingest the boric acid.
  • Placing satchels of catnip in dark or damp areas of the home, like the closet or the pantry, can deter roaches naturally.
  • Store-bought pesticide sprays are a type of poison — use these products at your own risk. If you do opt for this method, use good judgement. Do not spray areas where you or your pets eat, and keep your home ventilated for at least 24 hours after spraying.

If All Else Fails, Call A Professional.

Integrated pest management companies like ABC follow industry best practices and have professional grade products not sold in stores. In some cases, you can actually save money by paying for an exterminator, who can locate palmetto bug nests and eliminate the pests more efficiently.

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  • JM Webster

    Flies, rodents, ants, bed bugs, bees, wasps, spiders, cockroaches and many more to mention are undoubtedly unwanted to each and every home. However, no matter how much they are unwelcomed, they still manage to get into people’s sanctuary and create havoc not just to properties, but also to human and pet’s health. ~ Eco Pro Pest Control | Exterminator Service New Jersey, NJ

  • Carl

    In my case i use the special gel to get rid of this palmetto bugs, works perfectly.