Palmetto Bugs: Seriously, What Are They?

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Palmetto Bugs: What Are They?

No one likes roaches. The mere thought of them is enough to make your stomach turn. And imagining them crawling all over your kitchen? Gross! Don’t even go there.

Here in South Carolina, roaches can be a serious problem. Thanks to our humid climate and year-round warm weather, roaches are something you can encounter throughout the year. Once an infestation gets out of hand in your home, you’ll likely need to contact a roach control professional to do something about it.


In this part of the country, though, it’s common to hear people referring to “palmetto bugs” rather than roaches. But when you ask them what they mean by that, they just say: “You know, palmetto bugs. Like roaches.” Wait, what?

What exactly are palmetto bugs? Are they the same thing as roaches? Are they different? Can they fly? Are they dangerous? And, most importantly, what can you do to keep them out of your home?

We’ve put together this quick guide to palmetto bugs to answer all of these questions. Ready to learn more? Here we go!

What Is a Palmetto Bug?

Is a palmetto bug a roach? Yes and no.

The term palmetto bug is actually just another name for the American cockroach, or Periplaneta americana. So in this sense, yes, a palmetto bug is a roach. However, there are also lots of other cockroach species in the United States, many of which are found here in South Carolina. So, to put it another way: all palmetto bugs are roaches, but not all roaches are palmetto bugs.

Not sure if the roach-like insect you’ve encountered is actually a palmetto bug? Unlike many other species of cockroaches, palmetto bugs are huge. They can grow all the way up to 3 inches in length, making them the largest cockroach here in South Carolina. So if you see a roach that’s a couple inches long, it’s almost certainly a palmetto bug.

Can Palmetto Bugs Fly?

Many roaches have wings, but some are better at flying than others.

Unfortunately, palmetto bugs can indeed fly. However, they’re not all that adept at it. More often than not, you’ll see them doing something more akin to gliding or floating from a higher altitude to a lower one. For instance, they might jump off of a wall and “fly” down to the floor below.

Are Palmetto Bugs Dangerous?

Just like other species of cockroaches, palmetto bugs can be dangerous.

For one thing, palmetto bugs are capable of spreading disease. This includes salmonella, E. coli, and even certain parasites. They tend to leave a trail of fecal matter wherever they go, and these pathogens often show up in their feces.

Additionally, palmetto bugs will leave behind various sheddings and egg casings that can trigger asthmatic responses and allergies in some individuals. And, palmetto bugs have been known to bite (gross!), which can result in skin irritation, too.

How to Control Palmetto Bugs

To sum up, then: palmetto bugs are 3 inch long, flying, biting, egg casing-shedding roaches that spread disease and can cause allergic and asthmatic reactions. At this point, you’re probably focused on how you can prevent them from entering your home!

Since palmetto bugs are capable of flattening themselves down to an almost impossibly tiny height, they’re very good at entering homes through even the smallest of cracks. That said, you’ll need to ensure that there are no gaps around the outside of your home, including around windows, screens, pipes, and so on. It’s also helpful to pick up dog and cat food rather than leaving it laying around outside, as these are known to attract various kinds of roaches (including palmetto bugs).

If you do end up with a palmetto bug infestation, you’ll want to contact a roach control professional right away. At Home Pest Control, we’ll start by eliminating any palmetto bugs currently residing in your home. From there, our Home Shield Pest Prevention program will ensure that you never have to deal with them again! To learn more, follow the link below.

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August 31, 2018

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