Palmetto Bug vs Cockroach: What’s the Difference? (Updated 2024)

The question of whether a Palmetto bug and a cockroach are the same insect has caused much confusion. Despite their similar appearance, these two creatures are actually the referring to the same bug. Therefore, there is no distinction between them. The term “palmetto bug” is simply a regional alternative for “cockroach”, used mainly in the South, leading many types of cockroaches to also be referred to as palmetto bugs.

What is a Palmetto Bug? – Palmetto Bug Vs Cockroach

Palmetto bug vs cockroach? Have you heard both of these names before and are wondering what the difference is?

palmetto bug vs cockroach

Palmetto bugs and cockroaches are the same thing, palmetto bug is simply a regional term for cockroaches that live indoors and outdoors. Generally when someone says palmetto bug they are referring to an American cockroach, but some people use palmetto bug as another term for any cockroach.

A palmetto bug is a slightly more glamorous name for cockroaches. Cockroaches are a species of pests that are part of the Blattodea, and are also called palmetto bugs. There are over 4000 known species of cockroaches, worldwide, seventy of which can be found in the United States. Many types of palmetto bug can live both indoors and outdoors.

Are Palmetto Bugs The Same Thing As Cockroaches?

Yes, palmetto bugs are another name for American Cockroaches!

Types of Cockroaches in America

There are many different types of cockroaches in the United States and around the world. Each of these individual species of roach looks differently, behaves differently, and requires a slightly different treatment plan.

American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana)

The American cockroach is commonly referred to as palmetto bugs, and they are typically reddish-brown and have a yellowy band around the edge of their pronotum (the shield-like area that protects their heads).

american cockroach

American cockroaches can be found lurking almost anywhere, but are typically fond of warm, dark places like wood piles, basements, sewers, landscape materials, kitchen cupboards, drains, and more.

These roaches are often confused with other bugs such as beetles and crickets.

Smoky brown cockroach (Supella longipalpa)

Smoky Brown cockroaches tend to be a dark brown/mahogany color and are more shiny than American cockroaches. Although you may find these in your home, they generally prefer warm outdoor areas, such as woodpiles and trees, similar to American cockroaches.

German cockroach (Blattella germanica)

Despite the name, the German Cockroach can be found worldwide and is one of the most common types found in northern America, and can be found lurking in kitchens and bathrooms, as they like warm, damp environments.

german cockroach

German cockroaches actually have wings, but generally they prefer to scuttle instead of fly. If you enter an indoor area that has a musty odor, this could indicate a German cockroach infestation.

Florida woods cockroach (Eurycotis floridana)

Naturally, due to the name, they are typically native to southeastern United States areas, but are unlikely to be found in the home; instead these insects prefer the outdoors. Not all cockroaches are a home risk, thankfully.

How to Get Rid of Palmetto Bugs in Your Home

Roaches are common pests in America and can be difficult to get rid of. If you discover a palmetto bug (or palmetto bugs) in your home, such as in your kitchen, bathroom, attic, or basement, it is important you act quickly to remove them, as they spread diseases, ignite allergic reactions, and are just plain unpleasant house guests.

What Attracts Palmetto Bugs into Your Home?

Roaches or Palmetto bugs, whatever you choose to call them, there are many things that might be attracting roaches to your home. There can be several reasons why you may find palmetto bugs in your home, some of which include:

  • Shelter: Palmetto bugs don’t like extreme types of weather and will often seek shelter in homes, businesses, and other indoor environments. Particularly if the area is damp and suits their preferred temperature. Cockroaches are common in hotels because they provide all the shelter and food sources needed to survive!
  • Food Sources: Palmetto bugs follow an omnivore diet and will eat almost anything, so any food waste not properly disposed of will attract roaches. This includes pet bowls on the floor, dirty dish water, and countertops with crumbs.
  • Location: Some areas in America will attract more palmetto bugs than others purely due to the climate. Areas such as Florida, South Carolina and other southeastern United States locations can be particularly rife with roaches.
  • Water: Water sources appeal to roaches because, like almost every other species, they need to hydrate to survive. They prefer dirty water but will choose sanitary areas too.
  • Gardens: While roaches are happy to lurk in your home, they’ll be partial to your garden too, particularly if it’s rife with plant pots and fruity bushes/trees for them to feed on.

What to Do if You Find Palmetto Bugs in Your Home

  • Pest control services: Calling your local pest control agents is the most effective way to exterminate a palmetto bug infestation in your home. Pest control companies have the chemicals and know-how to quickly tackle the problem and turn your home into a roach-free zone.
  • Use home remedies: Baking soda can help you get rid of a roach infestation. You’ll need to put down food laced with the baking soda (such as something with a prominent odor, like onions) so they will eat it. The soda gases will kill the palmetto bugs.
  • Essential oils: Essential oils will help keep palmetto bugs at bay – but will not kill them if they are already in the house. But the best cure is often prevention.
  • Roach bombs: Sometimes known as cockroach foggers, roach bombs emit pesticides into the air. It is worth noting that this should be a last resort, as they are extremely toxic, even to humans and larger animals, such as dogs and cats.

View our guide on natural ways to get rid of roaches!

Palmetto Bugs: FAQs

Do palmetto bugs bite?

While not particularly considered a threat to our physical wellbeing, palmetto bugs will eat human flesh if given the chance. Their bites can cause irritation and trigger an allergic reaction, and you should seek medical advice if bitten by a palmetto bug. Read more on if cockroaches bite humans!

Does one palmetto bug mean an infestation?

In our experience, palmetto bugs are always in groups. This means if you find just one, this often will mean that the entire colony is near by. These groups can mean hundreds of palmetto bugs, so you need to act quickly!

Can palmetto bugs kill us?

No, palmetto bugs are not fatal to humans. Their bites are itchy and annoying, not unlike fleas when they bite. A roach bite does not contain venom or poison. They are merely a pest.

What are palmetto bugs afraid of?

American roaches (whatever the type) tend to be fearful of larger species, and will avoid humans if possible. There are also certain aromas that repel roaches, such as citronella, lavender, vinegar, and peppermint.

Why are palmetto bugs and cockroaches the same?

They get their name because they can often be found living in or around palmetto trees, which is a tropical plant with fan like leaves.

Are cockroaches related to mosquitoes?

The two are similar because they both belong to class Insecta/pest of the phylum called Arthropoda.

How do cockroaches get in the house?

Pest infestations occur because they are known to sneak in via plumbing fixtures and cracks in the wall. Even large cockroaches can get in easily, and will be drawn to the smell of food.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide on palmetto bug vs cockroach and really breaking down on where this additional name came from!

Final Thoughts On Palmetto Bug Vs Roach:

It can often be confusing when you hear the term palmetto bug vs roach, and it will often get you thinking that these are two different insects. That being said, they are the exact same insect, these are just regional terms that differ depending where you are.


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