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Palmetto Bugs: How To Get Rid of These Pesky Creepers for Good?

Have you ever encountered palmetto bugs? Those are giant black or brown bugs, which can appear outside as well as at home… Many people are scared of sleeping in a room where they have seen such a bug or of taking a shower in a bathroom where that “surprise” can occasionally fall onto your head. Does that sound familiar to you? Let’s look closer and figure out what type of insects they are, whether a Palmetto bug can be called a cockroach and, most importantly, how to get rid of palmetto bugs and save your nervous system!

Who Are Palmetto Bugs? Palmetto Bug vs. Cockroach

So, what 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, there 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, 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. 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 species of pest cockroaches, not only in the south or southeast of the country but all around the USA. To be more precise, this species is most frequently called a palmetto bug. But the American cockroach has many other folk names in addition to the mentioned one, including water bug, croton bug and others, which often cause confusion during the identification process.

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 roach infestations mostly happens at home or office premises in the northern states, because insects can’t bear the cold and instinctively try to find a warmer place. They prefer a night lifestyle, thoroughly hiding from people during day time. They also know how to fly.

the American cockroach: photo

INTERESTING FACT: The American cockroach is one of the three 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 in 1998 (according to the research 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 it finds, 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 its 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 have established that people from different regions consider the Australian cockroach, the Florida woods cockroach, the Smokybrown cockroach and the Brown cockroach to be palmetto bugs, but the main “bug on the palm”, according to people’s opinions, 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.

Palmetto Bugs in Florida

Many people wonder why palmetto bugs are so widespread in Florida. The reason for that is the same as it is in many Southern states – the warm and damp subtropical and tropical climate. The so-called monsoons last from May to October and along with the heat contribute to an even greater increase in palmetto bug population. They breed in wet leaves and move around through trees and on the streets. Although it is an outdoor species, they avoid direct sunlight. At night, when the temperature falls, they crawl into houses looking for shelter and food.

What Do Palmetto Bugs Eat?

American cockroaches (aka palmetto bugs) are considered to be omnivorous pests. They prefer fruit and sweets, but they also consume decaying organic matter (hair, skin particles), bread, old grains, paper and book bindings, beer, glue and dirty cloth. The scientists claim that they do not disdain eating fish and even their own dead kin! According to the Department of Entomology of Penn State , they are rather greedy and gluttonous, and it is this greed that does real harm to humans. Palmetto bugs “contaminate far more food than they are able to eat.”

Do Palmetto Bugs Bite?

Even though cockroaches are disgusting creatures, people commonly believe that they don’t drink blood, thus they can’t bite. But is that 100% true? In order to answer this important question, we asked a biologist Joe G Kunkel (Professor Emeritus, Biology Department, Massachusetts Amherst), whose research has 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.”

do palmetto bugs bite?: photo

You may say, “Not enough details!” and you will be totally right. Because, in asking this question, we want to know if the American cockroach a.k.a. the 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 have a pretty big size, we can conclude that there’s a theoretical chance that one can be bitten. Furthermore, they have several significant advantages, i.e. fast speed of movement and the ability to fly, which give them high chances to bite you and run away as far as possible. Such a situation is really dangerous for kids with gentle skin, thus you need to know the best way to get rid of roaches, allowing you and your kids to sleep carefree 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 us that he cut off the head of an American cockroach, but it was still alive for a while (by the way, professor Kunkel confirms that a cockroach can survive UP TO A MONTH in such a 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 to be 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 the services of an exterminator.

best cockroach killers: photo

Best Fast-Acting Roach Killer – Advion Cockroach Gel Bait, 4-syringes

Here is the most popular cockroach control product. Advion gel bait costs Check current price (4-pack) and is loved and trusted by its consumers. It is the #1 Best Seller in Pest Control Baits & Lures category.

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 two 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 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.

Price: (4-pack) Check current price

Combat Source KIll Max Roach Killing Gel

Combat Gel is also sold as a Check current price syringe. It contains food bait and its active ingredient is fipronil, a slow-acting poison similar to other gel poisons. Once the cockroaches take some along, they eat it, share with other insects and gradually they die. Fipronil acts slower than indoxacarb in Advion gel, but it provides more chances to eliminate the entire colony.

Roach Killing Gel: photo

The manufacturer recommends applying this gel on the spots of the pests’ entrance to your house, anywhere where you’ve been able to notice their activity or directly near their nest. Their favorite spots are under and behind the furniture and household appliances, in the corners and crevices; sometimes they crawl along the skirting boards and walls. Depending on the invasion scale, apply drops or even a continuous stripe of gel. Hungry bugs can attack a single drop of this gel.  The roaches can be defeated within five-seven days. Such a victory is definitely worth waiting for!

Price:  Check current price

Gel baits are the most effective treatment for American cockroaches, aka palmetto bugs, but you should be careful if you have children or pets that can accidentally taste this gel. To avoid this, use gel bait stations that are inaccessible for both kids and dogs.

Combat Roach Killing Bait, Large Roach Bait Station, 8 Count

Large Roach Bait Station: photo

These child-resistant bait stations are a treasure for the parents and owners of curious kids and pets that inquire about everything! Eight bait stations with several entrances for pests are available for only Check current price. A slow-acting poison based on Hydramethylnon is securely hidden inside from everyone but the palmetto bugs! They would climb inside and be attracted by the bait odor, grab some bait along and return to their colony to share the treasure! After that, they will die one by one. This won’t be very fast, but will help remove the entire population.

Price: (8-pack) Check current price

Trapper Insect Trap (90 sticky): photo

Classic sticky traps, such as the Trapper Insect Trap are also considered to be cut-rate treatments. A whole 90 sticky traps allowing monitoring of the population of palmetto bugs at home during poisoning are supplied. There are so many traps that you can locate them anywhere.

Price: Check current price

Especially for you, we listed the most efficient baits, traps and other bestselling products into 12 Best Roaches Killers.

  • Carry out preventive measures

This aspect has the same level of importance as using 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:

  1. Keep your kitchen clean, i.e. remove food remnants, throw garbage away and wash dishes, and don’t give the cockroach even a chance to eat!
  2. 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, use them at night if cockroaches are coming through the sewerage system of your home.
  3. Clean your living area in a timely manner (You still remember that cockroaches eat organics, i.e. particles of hair, skin or nails, don’t you?)
  4. Repair your house if necessary, i.e. repair all cracks and chinks in walls, floors, and windows. Make sure that all windows can be properly closed and buy protective screens.
  5. Check and ventilate the attic and the basement more frequently, because cockroaches often choose such places for living and breeding.
  6. 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.
  7. Put all big plants in order, i.e. remove all leaf litter, branches and, most importantly, deposits of wet leaves under trees! Make sure that there’s no rotting wood or stumps.

Best Palmetto Bugs Killers Comparative Chart

Product Type Active Ingredient Best Use Price
Advion Gel

Fast Acting Roach Killer – Advion Gel min: photo

Poison Gel Indoxacarb (fast-acting) Apply in cockroaches’ activity spots (e.g. under and behind the furniture and household appliances, in the corners and crevices) and at house entrances.
Combat Gel

Roach Killing Gel min: photo

Poison Gel Fipronil (slow-acting)
Combat Bait Station

Large Roach Bait Station min: photo

Bait Station Hydramethylnon (slow-acting) Place the devices in cockroaches’ activity spots.
Trapper Insect Trap

Trapper Insect Trap (90 sticky) min: photo


We want to remind you 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.

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4 thoughts on “Palmetto Bugs: How To Get Rid of These Pesky Creepers for Good?”

  1. Is it possible to get rid of palmetto bugs by not using poisonous traps? I have a baby and I am afraid that it will find the poison and eat it.

    1. It’s known that cockroaches, including the American cockroach a.k.a. palmetto bug, are extremely hard to kill and you will not deal with it simply by cleaning your house once – they will always find something to eat. However, rather harmless control methods can be used: gel bait stations, roach tablets or glue traps. Unlike simple tubes with poisonous gel in gel bait stations, the gel is contained deeply inside – and a child will not be able to reach it and eat it. The most important thing is not to allow children to play with it. Scientists say that roach tablets (based on boric acid) are the most non-toxic and harmless ways to get rid of cockroaches. And glue traps are totally harmless to people, but catch cockroaches perfectly. As you see, you may avoid using poisonous gel – use what you like to get rid of palmetto bugs.

      1. I have found a house in Florida, but I’m afraid to buy it as it may be infected with palmetto bugs. What should I check to make sure that everything is OK?

        1. The right approach to buying a house! You should know that palmetto bugs like warm, dark and humid places. Pay particular attention to the bathroom and the kitchen. Frequently you can find them in quiet places in the kitchen near the food, under a sink (in the kitchen or in the bathroom), in cracks on the floor, in vegetable boxes, wall niches, next to heating units etc. If you see at least one palmetto bug, remember that they live in colonies! If there is one, you can be sure that there will be others. So let the current owner struggle with them, you don’t need those troubles.

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