"Palmetto bug" is the popular name applied to several species of large cockroaches. In some parts of the country, this name is often used to refer to the American cockroach.

what attracts a palmetto bug

These pests are often nicknamed "palmetto bugs" because they prefer to remain sheltered under leaf litter and other decaying organic materials, including the leaves of the palmetto tree. Although they primarily live outdoors, these cockroaches may occasionally find their way indoors in their search for food, shelter and moisture. Once inside, they may contaminate food and cause health problems.

American cockroaches prefer dark, warm and damp environments. They are also most comfortable at temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit and won’t survive below 15 degrees Fahrenheit. During the winter months, these roaches may wander inside seeking warmth and moisture. They are frequently encountered in basements and crawl spaces. However, they may also be found in bathrooms, particularly in or near bathtubs, clothes hampers and floor drains.

These cockroaches can measure between 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches in length and are usually reddish-brown to light brown in appearance.

These roaches can act as mechanical vectors for different kinds of bacteria, meaning they can carry the bacteria on their bodies. As they forage for food and water, they can deposit these bacteria on any objects with which they come into contact. Further, their waste and molted (or shed) skins can both contain allergens that may trigger allergic reactions in some people. These reactions can include nasal congestion, skin rashes, watery eyes and asthma.

What Do Palmetto Bugs Eat?

American cockroaches (which, again, are often referred to as "palmetto bugs") prefer to eat decaying organic matter but will eat a variety of foods and household materials, including cheese, beer, leather, bakery products, the starch in book bindings, potted plants, dirty clothing, cosmetics, soap and pet food.

How Can You Help Keep Palmetto Bugs Out of Your House?

These roaches are known stowaways and may make their way into your house via infested boxes, suitcases and furniture. Inspect these items closely before bringing them indoors.

To make your home less attractive to American cockroaches that may have already established themselves in your home, start by eliminating the food, moisture and harborage sites that can attract them. Take steps like:

  1. Fixing leaky pipes
  2. Storing recyclable cans and bottles outside
  3. Not leaving water in the sink
  4. Using caulk to seal holes, cracks and crevices in your cabinets, closets, kitchen, bathrooms and other places where the bugs may hide or travel from place to place
  5. Reducing clutter to eliminate palmetto bugs’ hiding places
  6. Cleaning up spilled pet and human food immediately
  7. Not leaving food (including pet food) out overnight and storing food in airtight containers

These are some of the measures that can help you avoid future cockroach infestations.

How to Help Get Rid of Cockroaches

Although DIY cockroach control can be tempting, it's best to leave pest control to the professionals. Without knowing the cockroach species you’re dealing with, you may make the issue worse. For example, sprays and foggers may cause cockroaches to scatter, making it even more difficult to remove them from your home. In fact, most DIY methods only address the roaches you can see – not the ones that may be hiding in your walls, crawl spaces and around your plumbing fixtures.

In the long run, temporary fixes that don't address your cockroach infestation's underlying issues may only cost you more time, money and aggravation. Instead, contact Terminix® today for a pest solution.