Florida’s Palmetto Bugs: A Unique Species

A multitude of cockroach species exist throughout the world. Residents of Florida are most familiar with the species known as the palmetto bug. The term “palmetto bug” has been used indiscriminately to refer to a few different varieties of cockroach, but is most often meant for the Florida woods cockroach.

The Florida woods cockroach is larger than average, growing up to 2 inches long. Its wings are quite small and as a result, it is not a good flier. Often a dark shade of reddish-brown, the body of a Florida woods cockroach tends to be wide and flat. It employs a personal defense system of chemical spray which has given it the additional monikers of Florida stink roach and skunk roach.

Largely found outdoors, the Florida woods cockroach is more comfortable in high heat and humidity. As they often subsist on decaying vegetation, these insects are found under piles of leaves or wood as well as the brush surrounding buildings. Finding these palmetto bugs indoors means the insects likely hitched a ride on an outdoor item (such as wood) that was then brought inside.

As with any unwanted pest in the home, the spread of disease is a possibility. Food can become contaminated through the roach’s germs, chemical spray or even its feces, leading to sickness for residents in the home. Allergic reactions can also occur for some and could include the uncomfortable side effects of sore throats, rashes and irritated itchy eyes.

Homeowners can discourage palmetto bugs with a few preventative measures. Eliminate hiding places by keeping the areas around the house’s perimeter clear of woodpiles, leaves and grass, especially around the foundation. Bring any outdoor pet food in every night and eliminate standing water or leaks, making the roach’s food and water supply difficult to acquire.

To further discourage palmetto bugs, granular bait or an insecticide in liquid form can be used close to the foundation. Liquid insecticide may have to be employed regularly due to deterioration from sun or rain. A reputable company specializing in pest control can also aid homeowners in the removal of these insects.