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A palmetto bug, also known as the American cockroach or smokybrown cockroach, can infest homes when the weather gets cooler. Palmetto bugs carry a wide variety of disease-causing pathogens and can easily contaminate kitchen counters, clean dishes, and food. They can even cause digestive diseases in humans, causing vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.
Get rid of palmetto bugs quickly and efficiently with these natural and chemical solutions, and learn how to prevent them from infesting your home in the future.
A palmetto bug is a large, reddish-brown insect with a cream-colored thorax and brown wings. Smokybrown and American cockroaches are similar in size (about 1.5–2 inches), but the American cockroach is about a half inch longer. Though both insects can fly, they’re not great fliers. Other nicknames for a palmetto bug include water bug, flying water bug, and Florida woods cockroach.
Palmetto bugs stick to a diet of plants, food scraps, garbage, and decaying meat, so it’s very unusual for them to bite humans. However, if bitten, the bite will look like a small, red mark that should heal within a couple of days.
Since palmetto bugs are rarely seen during the day, it may be difficult to know if you have an infestation. Look for these signs to help you determine if you have an infestation:
Palmetto bugs prefer damp and moist conditions and can often be found outside under palm leaves, among shrubs, and in sewers, woodpiles, and mulch. They can also gather under your foundation, roof shingles, and palm trees, and near your pool. These pests will enter your home by crawling under doors or through pipes and holes in your wall when outdoor temperatures drop. They’re also likely to be found in kitchens, attics, and crawl spaces, in tub drains, behind dishwashers, by garbage cans, and under refrigerators.
Because of their attraction to warm, tropical climates, palmetto bugs can be found in Florida and other parts of the southeastern United States.
They’re most active at night, when they’re most likely to look for food. Palmetto bugs are attracted to light and may fly toward porch lights in the evening in search of insects to eat. They can live up to three months without food and one month without water, so it’s important to take action—get rid of them as soon as you spot them.
To prevent future palmetto bug infestations, follow these recommended tips:
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