How to Get Rid of Palmetto Bugs? | Effective Methods and Prevention Tips

Written by George Climer

Palmetto bugs are common pests that can be found almost anywhere, especially at home. Some people can be terrified knowing of them lurking inside the house. Some of you may be unaware that the cockroaches you’ve feared could be palmetto bugs. Fortunately, there are several steps to get rid of these terrifying pests and keep them at bay.

How to get rid of palmetto bugs? To get rid of them, use insecticides, cockroach baits using borax, or homemade sprays. Essential oils such as peppermint, oregano, catnip oil, rosemary, cedar, and eucalyptus oil can be used. Make a spray of water combined with dish soap and keep the house clean, dry, and sanitized at all times. Hire a pest management professional if the infestation has gotten out of hand.

Cockroaches, such as palmetto bugs, can be unpleasant inside the house. Learning more about them and understanding their nature and habits can help prevent infestations and help decide how to get rid of them.

In this article, we’ll go over more about palmetto bugs, including what they look like, how they behave, and more ways on how to get rid of them.

What Is a Palmetto Bug?

What Is a Palmetto Bug.

Palmetto bug refers to a kind of cockroach known as the American cockroach or Periplaneta Americana. They are also known as water bugs. 

This is also considered the biggest type of cockroach. Additionally, palmetto bugs prefer damp and moist environments. They are commonly found under plants, palm leaves, sewers, and moist woodpiles. However, they are common inside houses, looking for food and water.

What Does a Palmetto Bug Look Like?

Palmetto bugs range in color from reddish to brown. They range in size from 1.5 to 2 inches. Also, they have light patterns on their heads with a pair of antennas, and their back is covered with their wings. Lastly, they have a total of six legs, each with numerous spikes.

Do Palmetto Bugs Bite?

Palmetto bugs are not aggressive and are not known to bite humans. However, there are few instances in which they bite or nibble on humans. This happens if there is no other food source. 

Another scenario is that there might be food stains on people, and palmetto bugs try to eat them and scratch humans in the process.

Do Palmetto Bugs Fly?

Palmetto bugs have wings and can fly. However, they are one of the types of cockroaches that prefer to crawl than fly. Nonetheless, palmetto bugs can fly short distances and glide from higher altitudes to lower heights.

What Attracts Palmetto Bugs?

What Attracts Palmetto Bugs

Palmetto bugs are primarily attracted to food and water sources. They are attracted to starchy and sweet foods as well as fruits and vegetables. Additionally, they like unclean, wet, and moist environments to grow and lay eggs.

Related: Cockroach Eggs | Unnoticed Indicators And Egg-Laying Habits

Where Do Palmetto Bugs Live?

Palmetto bugs are known to live and thrive in damp, wet, and moist environments. They are often found outside under plant leaves such as palms, under moist woodpiles, and shrubs. When the weather outdoors is cold, palmetto bugs can infest houses.

Palmetto bugs will seek warmth and humidity inside homes, as well as food and water sources. They’re most frequent in kitchens, tub drains, behind dishwashers and refrigerators, and garbage cans.

Additionally, they can also get into drains, sinks, bathtubs, and floor drains, as well as toilets, by crawling through sewer pipes. They are small enough to go into and out of drains and pipelines.

Related: Where Do Cockroaches Live? | Preferred Habitats and Prevention Techniques

What Do Palmetto Bugs Eat?

What Do Palmetto Bugs Eat

Palmetto bugs will eat practically anything they can get their hands on. These animals consume both fruits and vegetables, as well as meat. They can have many food sources which is why they are abundant almost everywhere. 

Food scraps, as well as dirty garments and fabrics, paper, and glue, are all edible to them. Additionally, palmetto bugs also like food with a strong smell. They enjoy rotting fruits and vegetables, sweets like sugar and candies, and starchy foods.

What Eats Palmetto Bugs?

Palmetto bugs are preyed upon by a variety of predators. They are a common food source for a variety of spiders. Wasps have been observed to feast on palmetto bugs and use them as a host for wasp eggs. 

Additionally, palmetto bugs are eaten by geckos and lizards. They are also preyed upon by birds, snakes, frogs, and opossums.

Palmetto Bug vs. Cockroach | What’s the Difference?

There is no difference between a palmetto bug and a cockroach since a palmetto bug is a specific name or a term for a type of cockroach. Palmetto bug is a name for American cockroaches, which are also called water bugs and smokybrown cockroaches.

How Do Palmetto Bugs Get In Your House?

How Do Palmetto Bugs Get In Your House

Palmetto bugs can get into your home through open doors and windows. They most commonly infiltrate homes through cracks and gaps in house structures. 

Moreover, they can get into drains and pipelines, pass through and emerge on sinks, toilets, and floor drains.

Does Having Palmetto Bugs Mean Your House Is Dirty?

If there are palmetto bugs inside the house, it does not mean the house is dirty. Food and damp locations in the house with water leaks may attract palmetto bugs. In addition, compared to the weather outside, the house may be warm and humid enough for them to seek shelter.

Even if the house is clean, palmetto bugs can be found inside your house if they have access to food and water. However, cleaning and sterilizing the house can help prevent pest infestations, including palmetto bug infestations.

How Long Can a Palmetto Bug Live In a House?

Palmetto bugs are resilient insects that can survive for up to three months without food. However, they can only survive for one month without water. 

If they notice that they don’t have a constant source of food and water within the house, they are likely to go to a new place where they can have food and water.

Do Palmetto Bugs Carry Disease?

Because palmetto bugs are frequently found in unclean and unsanitary environments, feasting on garbage and food waste, they are more likely to contract and spread diseases that can be dangerous to humans if infected. 

Digestion problems such as Salmonella bacteria or food poisoning are common illnesses caused by palmetto bugs. Vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea are some of the symptoms. 

Some people are allergic to cockroaches, which results in a lot of sneezing and skin rashes. Palmetto bugs can potentially carry severe diseases such as typhoid fever and cholera.

How to Get Rid of Palmetto Bugs for Good?

Palmetto bugs can be eliminated using insecticides . You can also use baits  and traps . On the other hand, there are also natural ways to get rid of them that will not harm you, your family, or your pets.

However, attacking them at close range may be difficult and frightening, especially if they attempt to fly.

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How to Get Rid of Palmetto Bugs Naturally?

To get rid of them naturally, you can do the following: 

  • Clean and sanitize the house. 
  • Food should be disposed of properly. Make sure there is no unattended food and water accessible to palmetto bugs.
  • You can bait them with sugar, flour, and borax powder.
  • Make homemade spray using water and dishwashing soap.
  • Use essential oils such as peppermint, oregano, eucalyptus, lavender, citronella, tea tree, and catnip oils. 
  • Make sure there are no damp or moist areas inside the house.

Related: How to Get Rid of American Cockroaches | Effective Methods and Prevention Tips


Palmetto bugs are mostly found outside, in damp environments. However, they can be frequent inside houses, looking for food and water and a warmer and more humid habitat, especially when the outside temperature is colder. 

There are a variety of methods for getting rid of palmetto bugs, including the use of insecticides and essential oils. Using borax and homemade sprays can also help kill palmetto bugs. Cleaning and sanitizing the house can help keep not only palmetto bugs but also other pests away.

List of Sources

Koehler, P. G., Bayer, B. E., Branscome, D. (2017). Cockroaches and their management. University of Florida.

Merchant, M. (2018). American cockroach. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Entomology.

Barbara, K. A. (2021). American Cockroach. University of Florida.