What are Palmetto Bugs?
Well, in short, Palmetto bug or is a fancy nickname for the common American cockroach. The nomenclature appears to be regionally focused on Florida and neighboring states. The bugs got the nickname because they can be commonly found hiding under the big leaves of the palmetto tree. Cockroaches are indigenous to the region. The weather and habitat are perfect for them to thrive in large colonies. In other parts of the country it’s much easier to eliminate a roach infestation. In Florida, the conditions are just right for them to overrun almost every home if left untreated.
Are there different kinds of Palmetto Bugs?
While it is true that every Palmetto Bug is actually a cockroach, it is also true that all kinds of different roaches get lumped in under the name. The most common is the American Cockroach, but there are others, such as the wood cockroach and the increasingly widespread asian cockroach.
Do Palmetto Bugs bite?
While they are capable of biting, cockroaches don’t see humans and large animals, like dogs and cats, as a food source. They live primarily on waste, both meat and vegetable matter; anything you would be able to compost can feed a cockroach. Their diet can include strange items such as book pages, paper, plaster and most definitely each other. Cockroaches will eat their dead because it’s efficient. If cockroaches resort to biting humans it means they’re hungry. They have run out of whatever natural source of sustenance they’ve been living on and are on the lookout for new food sources. Normally this is not a big problem, but there have been cases where roaches took a liking to infants or elderly bed bound patients.
Water Bugs, which are related to cockroaches, but a different subspecies, live outdoors, near ponds or creeks and these bugs are active hunters. If a water bug crosses your path, it may take a bite out of you and it can be rather painful. These specific bugs are known in some locations as toe biters.
Do Palmetto Bugs fly?
Palmetto bugs do have wings that they will use under certain conditions. Only adults have fully developed wings which they use primarily to glide. Cockroaches tend to use their wings to drop from high elevations unharmed and you can see them flying from ceiling fans or walls if they are startled and are trying to make a quick getaway.
Not all species of cockroaches are equally proficient fliers. The American cockroach does well with its wings, using them frequently to traverse distances or drop down onto unsuspecting people from the ceiling. Some other species, such as the german cockroach don’t fly, although they have wings.
Even though a large portion of the cockroach population is capable of short distance flight and gliding, they tend to prefer foot over wing. The reason for this is weight. For many of the larger specimens it would be a less efficient use of energy reserves to fly. So they only do it if it’s absolutely necessary. Or to scare the bejeebus out of you when you least expect it.
How to fight a Palmetto Bug invasion
The best bet is to contact a professional to fight a roach infestation with special bait, fumigation and roach traps. Over the counter roach killer may or may not work effectively, depending on the level of immunity the colony has developed. In recent years, roaches have been growing resistances and immunity at an alarming rate. New and stronger methods of eradication are required to fight the growing plague.
Things you can do to get rid of Palmetto Bugs
Keep a clean kitchen. Palmetto bugs love to eat whatever you love to eat and your leftovers are what draws them into your home. Dishes left in the sink overnight and overflowing trashcans are an open invite to an all you can eat buffet for the little pests. Keeping a lid on pet food and storing your food in sealed containers goes a long way towards cutting off the supply lines.
There are also a number of home remedies that may work on keeping a growing roach population in check. You can create different kinds of traps with glass jars, vaseline and food based bait. The vaseline prevents roaches from crawling back out after falling into the baited jar. Some of the best kinds of natural bait reportedly include coffee grounds and fruit and vegetable clippings. Pretty much any kind of compostable refuse will do. Set up these bait jars around the house and wait for them to fill up with roaches. Once the jars have a number of roaches trapped, dump them into a bucket of hot, soapy water. Cockroaches are not very good swimmers because they breathe through their legs and the soap in the water will prevent them from floating. Any kind of dish liquid will get the job done. Be aware though, roaches can hold their breath for about 40 minutes. The water needs to be very hot and you have to wait them out. Flushing them down the toilet might remove them from your home temporarily but it may not kill them and they could just crawl right back in through the pipes.
Boric acid has been widely and successfully used to eliminate large roach populations. It is commonly available as a fine powder that you use to dust your home. Be mindful though, boric acid is a toxic substance and you don’t want to accidentally inhale the powder. Dusting with boric acid may also be unwise if you have pets or small children in the home that could potentially inhale or eat the insecticide dust. Any time you deal with poisonous pesticides, use safety precautions.