Identifying the Palmetto Bug aka(Water Bug) in Your Home

The Palmetto Bug is a commonly used nickname for the American cockroach. Many refer to the Palmetto bug as water bug, flying water bug and the Bombay canary. The palmetto bug earned its nickname because it likes to hide under the safe and shaded leaves of palm trees. These pests were accidentally introduced to the United States through trade with Africa. These pests are reddish brown in color, 1” to 1 ½ in size, and have six legs.

Palmetto bugs are not known to bite people. However, in extreme infestations, cockroaches have been known to nibble on people when there is no other food available. Palmetto bug bites are not serious and should cause nothing more than a small red mark. Their diet consists of both plants and meat. These pests carry a variety of disease-causing pathogens from their tendency to hide in unsanitary areas like sewers and drains, and eat decaying food scraps and animals. Further, these cockroaches can easily contaminate kitchen counters, clean dishes and food. Also, the most common illnesses people get from palmetto bugs are digestive diseases. These symptoms include vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea. Many have complained of experiencing allergic reactions to cockroaches or their shed skins and droppings. Allergic reactions to cockroaches include sneezing, rashes and even asthma attacks.

Palmetto bugs are known to live in large groups, sometimes in the hundreds or thousands. They hide in safe places that are damp and dark. They are known to find shelter under palm leaves, in hollow trees, among shrubs and in woodpiles. Furthermore, these pests like to hide within the foundation of your house, near your pool, in your sprinkler system and even under your roof shingles. These cockroaches are usually active at night; this is when palmetto bugs search for food. They will eat almost anything whether its food scraps in the garbage or the glue from bookbindings. They seem to like sweet and starchy foods. Palmetto bugs are known to live for 2 to 3 months without food and a month without water.

The female is likely to make one egg capsule of 14 to 16 eggs each week and can lay anywhere from 15 to 90 capsules in a lifetime. The egg capsule is less than a half inch long and dark brown. The female will usually hide it in a safe place near food. The egg will hatch in less than two months. The nymphs are a grayish brown when they first hatch and will continue to darken and get more brown as they molt. They will molt 9 to 13 times before it becomes an adult. These pests can live for a year and sometimes longer.

From all the cockroaches that frequently invade houses, palmetto bugs are the largest. These reddish brown cockroaches can grow as long as 1.5 inches or more. Both males and females have wings. When outside conditions are found unsuitable, these insects will migrate indoors and that’s when you find palmetto bugs in your home. These pests like to hide in dark, moist spaces like basements, sewers, crawl spaces, drains, and near the bathtub or garbage can. They usually stay hidden during the day, you may not notice a problem until there is a big infestation.

Some of the many signs of a palmetto bug infestation to look out for include a distinct musty smell; look for chew marks on curtains, stamps, envelopes and bookbindings.  Palmetto bugs love to eat anything with glue or starch. Another sign of a palmetto bug infestation to look out for are shed skins and droppings, that look like pepper flakes, in cracks and crevices around your home.

If you are experiencing a Palmetto bug infestation call a pest control professional who has the education to identify your pest problem. Lastly, find a pest control professional that has the equipment and skills to effectively address your bug problem.