What Attracts Palmetto Bugs?
Uninvited house guests are never fun to discover in your house, but few send shivers down your spine like a palmetto bug. At over one and one-half inches long and one-inch wide, these supersized insects can leave you wondering how to deal with such a huge pest. Knowing what attracts palmetto bugs to your house is a good starting point for controlling an infestation.
What’s the Difference Between Palmetto Bugs and Roaches?
Palmetto bugs really are just giant cockroaches. Most notably, they tend to be American or Florida woods species. People tend to call them palmetto bugs as a regional name, which clues others into the fact that huge roaches are running around a property.
The size is the biggest giveaway that you’re dealing with a palmetto bug, but you might also notice a few other defining features. These monster-sized bugs lack proper wings but can glide from one place in your house to another.
Their exoskeleton tends to be a shiny, reddish-brown color, and you might notice some yellow edges along their body. While you might find smaller roaches in larger numbers, palmetto bugs might not have such an obviously large population running through your house. However, they can still lead to a serious infestation if they begin to reproduce inside.
What Attracts Palmetto Bugs to Your Home?
Even the best housekeeper can find palmetto bugs in their home, but insects prefer dark, damp places with good food sources.
They love water, and you can often find them traveling up through pipes and drains, which is why you might discover them lurking around the bathtub or sink.
Clutter is also attractive to these bugs. They will live underneath piles of clothing or stacks of items you’ve designated to put in the recycling bin. They’ll find a cool, dark place to rest and lay their eggs if possible. Kitchen cabinets, closets, and other hiding spots are where you’ll often find evidence that they are living in your house.
How Do Palmetto Bugs Get Into Your Home?
Despite their large size, palmetto bugs can get through the tiniest spaces. They might come through the bottom of an exterior door without a good seal. They can also crawl through holes and cracks that exist around the windows.
If you spend lots of time outside, they could hitch a ride on items you bring in from your yard, such as cookware from your outdoor kitchen or the gear you use for camping and fishing.
Since these bugs can move rather fast, they can even come in with you when you open the front door. Some can even crawl up plumbing lines to make an easy entrance without you noticing.
Do Palmetto Bugs Pose a Risk to Humans?
When you think about the unsanitary places where palmetto bugs feed, it isn’t too hard to see how they could potentially make humans sick.
After crawling through bathtub drains, garbage disposals, and trash cans, the insects can transfer many bacteria and viral particles to your living space. Palmetto bug to human disease transmission often happens when people eat food or touch a contaminated object that the roaches have recently walked across.
Food poisoning is among the most common types of diseases that palmetto bugs pass to humans, but you could also find the insects to be irritating to your respiratory system as well.
Palmetto bug droppings and discarded parts of their shell can cause allergic reactions in sensitive people. If you have asthma or another serious respiratory condition, then you’ll need to be extra cautious about being around places where these bugs exist.
Skin rashes, watery eyes, and nasal congestion are a few allergy symptoms that you might experience if you are sensitive to palmetto bugs.
How Do You Identify a Palmetto Bug Problem?
Luckily, these bugs are big enough that you can often spot them immediately. They tend to come out at night, and you might see one scurrying for shelter when you turn on a light or open up a cabinet.
Palmetto bugs leave larger droppings compared to smaller insects, and you might see what looks like coffee grounds in the places they inhabit.
They’ll also chew through materials such as envelopes and packages, where they feed on the glue. Although they prefer decaying food matter, they might also chew holes in clothing that’s been starched or other materials that could stave off starvation.
When there are many palmetto bugs in an area, you might also notice a musty smell that is distinctive from mold or other foul odors.
How to Repel Palmetto Bugs
Making your house unsuitable for palmetto bugs requires a multi-pronged approach that enhances your overall living environment.
First, you’ll want to remove attractants. Repairing plumbing leaks is a great place to start since it reduces moisture around your house and can seal up potential entry points around pipes. Some people even place drain covers in their sinks and showers with holes too small for most palmetto bugs to get through.
Cleaning up food sources is another effective strategy for eliminating these insects. Check your food storage areas for spilled food and drinks that could serve as a tasty snack for the bugs. Then, make sure that all food is stored in airtight containers. You’ll also want to keep pet food in covered containers and avoid leaving leftover food out overnight.
Getting Rid of Palmetto Bugs
Once palmetto bugs invade your home, you have several options to get rid of them. There’s always the old-fashioned smash them and dispose of them trick, but this only works if you see one or two and are sure it’s not a major infestation.
You’ll also find traps are available that may have bait. These can sometimes work, but they rely upon the palmetto bug opting to go for the bait instead of other easier food and water sources that might be available. Traps can also be potentially hazardous for children and pets if they contain poison.
Professional pest control services typically recommend using a combination of exclusion and spraying to eliminate palmetto bugs. During an inspection, you can find out if there are areas that you might have overlooked that allow the bugs to come inside. You can also inspect the outdoor area, which is where the problem usually starts.
Once the source of the infestation is found, pesticide works quickly and has residual effects that can last long after spraying. While it may take a few sprays, you’ll notice that the insects don’t keep coming back.