Have you ever met palmetto bugs? Those are giant black or brown bugs, which can appear as outside, as well at home… Many people are scared of sleeping in a room where they met such bug or taking a shower in a bathroom where that “surprise” can occasionally fall on your head. Does it look familiar to you? Let’s look closer and understand what type of insects they are, can Palmetto bug be called a cockroach and, which is the most important, how to get rid of palmetto bugs and save your nervous system!
Who are palmetto bugs? Palmetto bug vs. cockroach
So, who are palmetto bugs? Many people think that palmetto bugs are not cockroaches. But this opinion is totally wrong and can be easily exposed by entomologists from all over the world. In fact, those are several “peridomestic species” of big flying cockroaches, which are usually called “palmetto bugs” in particular in the southern and southeastern parts of the USA, e.g. in such states as Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and the “Palmetto state”, i.e. South Carolina. This name appeared a long time ago when someone noticed that these bugs appear not only at home, but also live on palms. According to the scientists of the Clemson University, the state of South Carolina is inhabited with more than 15 different species of cockroaches, but only a few of them are pests called “palmetto bugs”.
Thus, the American cockroach is considered the most common specie of pest cockroaches not only in the south or southeast of the country but all around the USA. Exactly this specie is most frequently called palmetto bug. But the American cockroach has many other folk names in addition to the mentioned one, including a water bug, a croton bug and other, which often cause confusion during the process of identification.
These big (about 1.6 inсh in length) black-brown or red-brown cockroaches prefer warm and wet tropical regions (that’s why so many of them can be found in the south) where they live in rotting wood, leaves, near pools, houses and in cracks of building basements. While trying to find comfortable places, they choose humid entrances and basements, attics, bathrooms with poor ventilation, getting there through sanitation or ventilation systems and chinks in the house. One can easily find them in sewer outlets and in steam heat tunnels in the northern part of the country. The majority of American roaches infestations mostly happen at home or office premises in the northern states, because insects can’t bear cold and instinctively trying to find a warmer place. They prefer night lifestyle, thoroughly hiding from people during day time. They also know how to fly.
INTERESTING FACT: The American cockroach is one of the 3 fastest insect species in the world. The speed record of 1.5 meters per second (which is equal to 5,4 km/h = 3.4 mph) was registered already in the year of 1998 (according to researches of The University of Floridа entomologists)! That’s why it can hide so fast when a human is approaching.
Periplameta Americana can eat virtually anything that find, i.e. sugar and other sweets, beer, bread, yeast, fatty products, glue, particles of skin, hair, nails, starch, cellulose, and of course it won’t mind eating their dead relatives. One thing that they need more than food is humidity because they can survive only a month without water (and up to three months without food).
Scientists ascertain the fact that people from different regions are considering the Australian cockroach, the Florida woods cockroach, the Smokybrown cockroach and the Brown cockroach as palmetto bugs, but the main “bug on the palm” according to the people’s opinion is the American cockroach. All mentioned “relatives” of it prefer the very same types of food and living conditions, having slightly different size, color or preferred regions for living.
Do palmetto bugs bite?
Even though cockroaches are disgusting creatures, people commonly believe that they don’t eat blood, thus they can’t bite. But is it 100% true? In order to answer this important question we asked a biologist Joe G Kunkel (Professor Emeritus, Biology Department, Massachusetts Amherst) whose researches helped us many times, when we were trying to find the truth about pest insects. According to Kunkel, cockroaches “rarely bite a human but might nibble on a sore in the middle of the night when an animal is sleeping”.
You may say, “Not enough details!” and you will be totally right. Because asking this question we want to know if the American cockroach a.k.a. palmetto bug can bite us, as well as other species of cockroaches, widely known under this nickname. But professor Kunkel makes a clarification, “The cockroach is an omnivore, that is, it eats everything edible, animal and vegetable. So if we do not move around too much while sleeping, they might be inclined to nibble on our earlobes at night. They are rarely aggressive enough to attack us while we are awake. When visiting Tulane University in New Orleans many years ago, I slept in a dormitory room, and cockroaches were flying down from the ceiling onto my head. I would guess that these large American cockroaches (Periplaneta Americana) would be capable of taking a good bite out of me. Only the larger species could take a bite through our skin. Of course the skin of children is much more tender and vulnerable to a roach bite”.
Keeping in mind that all cockroaches classified as palmetto bugs are having pretty big size, we can make a conclusion that there’s a theoretical chance that one can be bitten. Furthermore, they are having several significant advantages, i.e. fast speed of movement and ability to fly, which give them high chances to bite you and run away as far as possible. Such situation is really dangerous for kids with smooth skin, thus you need to know the best way to get rid of roaches, allowing you and your kids to sleep patiently at night.
If you are interested in cockroach bites - read our research “How dangerous are cockroach bites?”
How to get rid of palmetto bugs: the best cockroach control and prevention methods
We all know that the very first reaction when one meets a cockroach is to kill it with a shoe. But this method will allow you to kill only one or two of them… and only if you are very lucky! (Do you remember how fast they can run?) So, it’s not a solution. Furthermore, sometimes you think that you killed one, but it’s still moving under your shoe. There can be something even worse: one guy told that he cut a head of an American cockroach, but it was still alive for a while (by the way, professor Kunkel confirms that a cockroach can spend UP TO A MONTH in such state). What a hardy creature!
In fact, you need to fight with “palmetto bugs” in the same way as any other cockroaches, i.e. desperately, but consistently and patiently. One method won’t allow you to get rid of these uninvited guests, usually, it’s recommended to use a system of various methods:
- choose ready-to-use products: cockroach gel baits, killer sprays, IGR, traps and other
Poison gel baits are considered as one of the most effective weapons because nimble cockroaches will have enough time to eat poison themselves and to distribute it around their neighbors. Dead bodies of poisoned cockroaches will be eaten by others, continuously killing the whole population. Furthermore, this way is much cheaper than services of an exterminator.
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The active ingredient is this bait is Indoxacarb, 0.6% which attracts and then kills the roaches. Unfortunately, this chemical substance has an expiry date of 2 years after the manufacturing date. The pack will hardly last longer, though.
The manufacturer recommends applying 0.5 g dozes of gel 10 ft apart from each other. 3-5 such dozes will suffice even for the most infested house, and a regular infestation requires 1-3 drops of this gel. The poison exterminates a dozen of different types of insects, including the most spread types of cockroaches.
91% of customers claim that this product is useful; therefore Advion can be called the best roach killer. Consumers also state that using this poison 3-4 times per year is enough for fully controlling a cockroach infestation at home. Most of the insects die within a week. It is also mentioned that this gel needs to be hidden somewhere inaccessible for pets and small children and should never be placed near food.
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- carry out preventive measures
This aspect has the same level of importance as the usage of chemical products. If you don’t want to live together with cockroaches, or you don’t want to see them again, then you have to:
- Keep your kitchen clean, i.e. remove food remnants, throw garbage away and wash dishes, not giving the cockroach even a chance to eat!
- Put your bathroom in order, i.e. fix your leaking tap, and solve ventilation problems, removing all humidity from your bath. Purchase plugs for drains, using them at night if cockroaches are coming through the sewerage system of your home.
- Clean living area in a timely manner (Do you still remember that cockroaches eat organics, i.e. particles of hair, skin or nails, don’t you?)
- Repair your house if necessary, i.e. remove all cracks and chinks in walls, floors, and windows. Make sure that all windows can be properly closed and buy protective nets.
- Check and ventilate the attic and the basement more often, because cockroaches often choose such places for living and breeding.
- Reduce or stop usage of motion activated sprinklers in your yard, because constantly wet grass attracts cockroaches, thus they can create a population in it. Remove all sources of still water in your garden.
- Put all big plants in order, i.e. remove all garbage, branches and, which is the most important, deposits of wet leaves under trees! Make sure that there’s no rotting wood or stumps.
We want to remind that one can eliminate “palmetto bugs” only using chemical products and keeping his or her garden and home clean and tidy. By making correct steps, you can finish these creeps off and start to sleep without fear that “night troops” will appear from your ceiling.