Palmetto bugs are a common pest in Florida — especially in parts of Flagler and Volusia Counties like Port Orange, Ormond Beach, Deltona, Debary, and more. While commonly referred to as “palmetto bugs,” these pests are technically the American cockroach and got their nickname for their affinity for spending significant time underneath palm leaves.
Identifying Palmetto Bugs
Palmetto bugs look like cockroaches because they technically are cockroaches — the American cockroach. They’re reddish-brown and can grow up to 1.5 to 2 inches. Both male and female palmetto bugs have wings. While they can fly short distances, most often, they use their wings to glide from trees and buildings.
Palmetto Bug Infestations - Where to Find Them
Palmetto bugs got their name from living underneath palm tree leaves and are usually found under bushes, in decaying logs, or near wet areas like pools — all things that are common in parts of Florida like Volusia and Flagler Counties.
In Florida, palmetto bugs often live in close proximity to humans. They like warm, tropical weather and prefer dark and damp areas. Many areas of homes provide excellent shelter for palmetto bugs — including near pools, in sprinkler systems, in the foundations of houses, storm drains, and even places that homeowners see regularly like underneath roof shingles.
While usually found outside, palmetto bugs will migrate into homes to avoid flooding, excessive rain, and predators. They like dark and damp areas, so it’s common to find them under sinks, in drains, in hidden areas near kitchens, and in sheds and pool houses. They can live 2–3 months without eating, so they can be patient and elusive. They’re opportunistic and not in a rush to eat and expose themselves. This explains why spotting palmetto bugs is usually the sign of a bigger exterminator problem.
Another way to spot palmetto bugs is to look for their eggs. Palmetto bugs lay egg capsules containing a little over a dozen eggs. They tend to lay egg capsules weekly and can lay up to 75–90 egg capsules over a lifetime.
Beware. Palmetto Bugs Pose Health Risks
Palmetto bugs can actually pose a health threat. While it’s very rare for them to bite humans, they sometimes do because of lack of food, but bites are not serious. The bigger issue is contamination. They often live in unsanitary environments, like sewers, drains, and trash areas and eat decaying food scraps. In houses, they often hide in drawers or other hidden areas in kitchens and can contaminate plates, utensils, and other kitchenware while hiding and moving around.
Exterminating Palmetto Bugs
The most effective way for palmetto bug pest control is to spray cracks, crevices, and common palmetto bug areas with broad-spectrum insecticides. It is also crucial to treat areas of the house where palmetto bugs may enter from the outside, such as attics, windows, and exterior parts of house foundations.
Call an exterminator immediately if you spot even a single palmetto bug within your home or see any signs of a palmetto bug infestation. Any indication of palmetto bugs is usually an indication of a bigger problem. If you see any signs of palmetto bugs in Port Orange, Ormond Beach, New Smyrna Beach or elsewhere in Flagler and Volusia Counties, call Dave’s Pest Control. If you don’t live in these parts of Florida, find a certified pest control company in your area.