A palmetto bug is an insect of the outdoors. It is comfortable living outside under tree trunks, decaying leaves, flower beds, compost, etc. They are fond of too much moisture.
Therefore, they will only infest an abandoned or very moist surrounding.
There are multiple species of palmetto bugs, and all of them have different natures concerning an infestation. You can learn more about the species here: About Palmetto Bug.
If you see a palmetto bug in your home, you don’t need to panic. It might have sneaked in because of the rain last night or must be a bug that has lost its way.
Back in the days when I traveled Florida often, I felt these roaches held grudges against me. They would crawl out of nowhere and scare the hell out of me in every place I would reside.
So, I did some research about palmetto bug infestation, and here is how to identify it.
Do Palmetto Bugs Infest? Yes, they infest homes with a very favorable environment. You know you have a palmetto bug infestation after analyzing palmetto bug droppings, eggs, shredded skins, and a few of them in all hidden and damped places in your house like behind sinks drawers, appliances, bathroom shelves, etc.
Also, monitor how clean you keep your house, check if you have too much over leftover food, and survey around your house for overgrown vegetation.
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Do palmetto bug infest homes that are clean?
No, palmetto bugs don’t infest homes that are clean and maintained. Palmetto bugs don’t like being indoors. These roaches prefer being outdoors, with nests in old tree stumps, shrubs, and vegetation.
They fancy moist and rotting vegetation, not a clean kitchen linoleum. They are not a sign of filth. You might witness one or two of them even if your house is immaculate.
You will see more of them during the rainy season and around the end of July through the whole month of August when they fly and mate.
Palmetto bugs enter the house when doors and windows are open. Any cracks are also the entrance points. Poorly sealed drain holes in washrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, or toilets are additionally the emerging spots for Palmetto bugs.
But they will scurry away through the holes without infesting your home. These roaches would only come from outside to look for food and water or if it’s getting cooler or raining suddenly.
If your house is super nasty, with damp and dark conditions in an attic or a basement, then palmetto bugs might come up your plumbing and nest in your house as the American type of these roaches lives in and around the sewer pipes.
Identify Palmetto Bug Type and Kind
According to the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) program, Palmetto bug infestation is a biological hazard. It is defined as the pervasive inrush, clustering, or hatching of bugs harming humans and property.
Different species of roaches are called palmetto bugs, but we will focus on American cockroaches, Florida Wood cockroaches, and Smokybrown cockroaches.
Identification of the kind is important because it makes termination easy, effective and helps save time and money. Also, it indicates what place might have been the entrance point for the bug.
The American and smoky brown bug would probably emerge out of pipelines, drains, etc., in the washroom, bathroom, or toilet. In contrast, the Florida bug might get inside through an open window, door, or any cracks in the walls.
Additional Read: Are Cockroaches Dangerous?
How do you know if you have a palmetto bug infestation?
These are a few things to analyze before reaching out a conclusion on whether you have a palmetto bug infestation or not.
Step 1: Analyse How Dirty is Your Home?
Palmetto bugs are basically decomposers. They typically like to munch on decaying organic matter. They also attack stale food scattered all over the place or rotting in the kitchen dustbins.
To identify the palmetto bug infestation at your place, you need to examine how clean your house is. For example, an untidy house that provides nasty and dark surroundings for the bugs to sneak in might make your house prone to palmetto bug infestation.
Palmetto bugs are fond of moisture. Water seepage in the basement floor and walls and dripping roofs are the ideal places for the bugs to survive indoor.
Sewer pipelines with the unsealed draining end in bathrooms, washrooms, kitchens, etc., help palmetto bugs crawl inside.
So, you must assess how clean you keep your place and how moist the indoor is, are there any entrance points that would likely allow the bugs to creep in?
Step 2: Recall How Often Do You See Them?
Suppose you see one or two palmetto bugs crawling near your kitchen or behind a bathtub. You don’t really need to grieve. They probably would have entered from your front door, windows, or a sewer pipe. They usually hide from humans and mostly get in or emerge from drains when it’s dark.
But finding them too often can reflect a grave palmetto bug infestation. So it is important to regard where do you see them?
If you find them crawling on kitchen counters or behind the garbage can, you should get serious. This scenario can signal a palmetto bug infestation. On the other hand, sighting the bugs on your porch or near the front door is not that serious. It might be attracted to the light of your home. But eliminating this single bug is important, as it might become the cause of roach infestation in the future.
Step 3: Analyse Outdoor Spaces
Moist overgrown grass and branches trailing over terraces can also draw in palmetto bugs to your home, So, there is a probability that the palmetto bug you saw came from the outside. However, if you keep your outdoor neat and clean, your home will surely stay uninfested.
A few species of roaches might enter your house if you reside in the woods. But this won’t lead to an infestation as this kind of bug needs a lot of moisture and lives on fungus in the woods. Therefore, they can’t survive indoors.
Palmetto bugs love to dwell in outdoor areas that are warm, damp, and dark. Palmetto bugs are fond of palmetto trees, long grasses, leaf litter, flower beds, compost, tree holes, and mulch. Make sure trees are not close to your front door and windows.
If you have any bushes against the house near windows, trim them back and treat them with insecticide. Cut down long grass patches as well. When it gets cooler or rain suddenly, close your windows.
Step 4: Is there too much leftover food to help palmetto bug grow population?
If you are doing good housekeeping and making sure there is no leftover food, then there are fewer chances you will have an infestation.
However, as mentioned earlier, these cockroaches survive on leftovers. Therefore, if your kitchen or trash bins are dumped with leftovers, these bugs might wander across in search of food. An abundant supply of food and dark and damp conditions will keep them engaged inside, inducing the palmetto bug population growth.
Sure Sign of Palmetto Bug Infestations
These steps will help conclude an infestation. Therefore, you need to follow these steps if you think you have an infestation problem concerning the steps explained above.
Step 5: Check all Hidden Places in Your Home
The most appealing places that a cockroach likes to hide in are behind refrigerators, sinks, stoves, damp woody furniture, dark and moist basement or attic, etc.
Check All the hidden places in your home. For example, peep under the bed, inside the closet, inspect kitchen counters and cabinets, etc. If you can find more than 5 roaches, try to look more carefully for the nest, as this will predict palmetto bug infestation.
The first thing you should start to look for is palmetto bug shredded skins etc.
Step 6: Look For Shreded Skins, Wings etc.
Palmetto bugs, like many insects, have an exoskeleton. This is shed several times during the entire course of growth of the creature. The exoskeleton is made of chitin, which doesn’t decompose rapidly. Therefore, if you find many shredded skins, you should assume a large number of cockroach molts growing at your place.
Roaches don’t typically shed the wings, but you might find shredded wings of a dead cockroach. Too much-shredded skin and wings are directly proportional to the chances of infestation.
Step 7: Look For Palmetto Bug Droppings
Palmetto bugs drop solid poop and deep brown in crystal form. It is tiny, like a wheat grain with round edges. The poop has a musty, unpleasant smell. A palmetto bug poops once or twice a day, but it also depends on how often it eats.
An infested home can have piling cockroach feces. If you find the poop in large quantity in your kitchen, basement, attic, or any place that is moist and dark, you can expect a palmetto bug infestation.
You can learn more about how and where to find palmetto bug droppings here.
Step 8: Look For Palmetto Bug Eggs
Palmetto bugs lay their eggs in a solid case called ootheca. This capsule has an identical color to the type of female cockroach that laid it. On hatching, 14 to 16 nymphs are born. These roaches lay their egg cases in areas that are hidden or dark. These sacs can also be found near leftover food and moist surfaces.
Finding too many egg cases can be a clear sign of infestation. You can learn more about how the eggs look like here: Palmetto Bug Eggs.
A wandering bug doesn’t lay eggs inside. However, if the cockroaches stay longer because of the suitable environment, they may plan to grow inside by laying ootheca.
Step 9: Look for Palmetto Bug Babies
While searching all hidden places, you may also stumble upon baby palmetto bugs. These will be quite small in size than the regular roaches but very similar in shape to their parents.
Baby palmetto bugs normally do not have wings until they are fully mature, so you may mistake them for other insects. They are white-grey in color at the early stage of their lives and will become darker as they grow. However, they will still have bright red color than their actual parents.
You can learn more about them here in this article: Baby Palmetto Bugs
Step 10: Unique musty smell
Palmetto bugs have a stale, damp, and moldy smell. This is because they release a specific kind of chemical called pheromone. Which helps in communication and mating.
A dead cockroach also produces this stinky smell. They smell bad because of the chemical components in their bodies and the unsanitary environment they live in. Since they are decomposers, they drop poop which also has a unique musty smell. This pungent odor can be easily recognized in an infested area.
If you can smell a musty odor, some cockroaches might be living inside—the more intense the smell, the more chances of infestation.
Step 11: Try to Hear Out Palmetto Bug Noises
Palmetto bug noises are tough to hear out and quite low in volume. But you can still listen to it if you try VERY hard. Hearing out some noises can be a clear sign of some infestation. You can learn more about how it sounds here: Palmetto Bug Noises.
Call an Exterminator
If you still can’t conclude that your house is infested with palmetto bugs or not, you should call an exterminator. He will have enough knowledge and experience to help you out.
They are professionally trained and have seen enough cases to identify an infestation in your home. An expert will also help you attain a bug-proof perimeter around your house.
Additional Read: Natural Palmetto Bug Repellents
How bad is an infestation?
The palmetto bugs can be unsanitary, harmful, embarrassing, and a freeway to health issues. But only in case when your home is really infested, which happens only in worst cases.
A palmetto bug infestation is always of low intensity and can be easily wiped out with simple measures.
Hand-Picked Additional Read: Are Cockroaches Dangerous?
According to researchers, cockroaches spoil food and transfer pathogens, causing allergic reactions and psychological distress. In addition, they are a potential mechanical vector of human diseases. They have been studied, and it is concluded that different kinds of these roaches carry more than 25 kinds of bacteria, including those with resistance to antibiotics.
A study conducted by Acta Tropica, an international journal, revealed that the cockroach infestation trend had increased rapidly. The prevalence of asthma has also dramatically expanded over the decades. Thus, suggesting that the infestation is directly affecting the development of asthma.
Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research also indicated that exposure to cockroaches was significantly linked with asthma and can be deemed a risk factor for the disease.
Cockroach infestation is also a cause of mental torture, especially in people who have a mental illness. Due to this, they overuse pesticides and other hazardous chemicals that could be harmful to them.
But the good news is, the type that is associated with bad cockroach infestations, critical health issues, and dirty homes is the German cockroach, not a palmetto bug.