How to Get Rid of Palmetto Bugs

A roach is a roach by any name, but the palmetto bug is a serious critter with which to contend. Palmetto bug traps can catch a few of these creepy crawlers as they make their way through your home, but you need a full plan of attack to completely rid your living spaces of the palmetto roach.

Man Spraying Pesticide In Kitchen
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How to Get Rid of Palmetto Bugs

What Is a Palmetto Bug?

They are larger than the prevalent German roaches that breed indoors and are hardier than brown-banded cockroaches. They tend to frequent damp, moist areas in basements and attics and along cement foundation lines in the dirt.

The palmetto roach is native to the southern area of the United States and is often referred to as a water bug. The palmetto bug, or American roach, is large — about an inch in size or more. The roach's fat brown body has wings that tuck behind its back and has a ringed marking on its prothorax that mimics the look of sunglasses.

The palmetto bug is reviled for its flight. The large, bulbous body of the palmetto bug flying through the air to get to a porch or bathroom light is not a pleasant experience to encounter for most people.

Smokybrown vs American Roaches

Similar in size, the smokybrown and American roaches are often confused as the same type of creepy crawly. While both types of bug are on the larger side of roaches, the American, or palmetto roach, can grow to be a full inch larger than the smokybrown.

Each type of roach can fly, although it's more likely that they are launching from a few feet below a light or gliding down from attic spaces to land near brightly lit areas.

Palmetto Bug Habitat

The palmetto bug prefers to set up colonies in moist, humid areas. They love marshy soil and tropical areas.

If you are attempting to eradicate palmetto bugs from your interior spaces, you should address areas in your home where they will find the best conditions. These include:

  • Under sinks
  • Crawlspaces
  • Kitchen cabinets
  • Attic corners
  • Bathrooms
  • Under appliances
  • Septic tanks
  • Large trash bins
  • Behind dishwasher cabinets
  • Mulch bins

Even if you don't see signs of a palmetto roach infestation, you may still want to spray the area to be safe. Female palmetto bugs will lay their eggs in these humid, moist areas to offer a spring surprise of a wave of winged pests.

How to Keep Palmetto Bugs at Bay

Once you have sprayed and eradicated the skittering roaches from your space, you can ensure they don't return by following through with a few maintenance issues.

Aside from wiping down counters and keeping trash secure in bins, you can also:

  • Sweep floors and wash them down with Lysol or some other disinfectant daily.

  • Clean and put away dishes you use immediately. Keep a tub of soapy water to store used dishes until you are ready to do the work of scrubbing, drying and putting them away.

  • Vacuum carpeting daily.

  • Keep pet food dishes and kitty litter boxes clean of debris.

  • Declutter kitchen and bathroom counters so you can disinfect them daily.

Palmetto Bug Killer

A broad-spectrum insecticide will rid your indoor living spaces from generations of palmetto bugs. To ensure you have good coverage, you need a plan of attack. A commercial cleaner for cockroaches can take out palmetto bugs. It's where and how you apply the bug spray that truly counts.

  • Spray the exterior walls of your home or apartment. Get into the cracks of the foundation and pay particular attention where walls meet the ground.

  • Inside, spray nooks and crannies in and around the walls and exposed flooring. Make sure to outline electrical outlets, attic entrances or other entryways to the walls and subspaces.

Kimberley McGee

Kimberley McGee

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.