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Your SC home may be infested with Palmetto bugs. Here are the warning signs

Are you prepared to start seeing more palmetto bugs either outside or even inside your home?

Without proper pest control, these crawling insects could become a common occurrence.

In South Carolina, many residents share a strong dislike for the quick insect. These common bugs may even leave small scattered piles of brown speckles lying around your home.

Here are five things to know about palmetto bugs in South Carolina and six ways to tell if your home is infested.

What is a Palmetto Bug?

The name palmetto bug is a polite moniker for a cockroach.

In South Carolina, the term palmetto bug is used as a sort of nickname for the neighboring species of cockroaches such as the smokeybrown and American cockroaches in the southern United States.

The nickname has also been applied to the Florida woods cockroach.

“A palmetto is a type of tropical plant with fan-shaped leaves. Cockroaches common to the Southeast United States are sometimes called palmetto bugs and cockroaches because they are commonly associated with the palm leaves or shrubs in that region,” according to Terminix.

Palmetto bugs are generally reddish-brown overall with a cream-colored thorax and brown wings. Smokybrown and American cockroaches are both similar in size ranging from around about 1.5–2 inches in length. However, the American cockroach is about a half inch longer than the smokeybrown. The smokeybrown is also more dark mahogany in color and its entire body is shiny. Although both species do fly, they’re not the best at the skill and can only fly short distances.

Where do they live?

Palmetto bugs tend to make their homes outdoors during the warmer months in palmettos, palm trees, beneath pine straw, wood piles, rotting trees or sewer systems to name a few. However, when the temperatures begin to drop or they smell food nearby, these little critters will try to find a way indoors.

Inside, they typically can be found creeping around at night, in kitchen cabinets, dresser drawers, behind blinds, in storage rooms, closest, bathtubs, under refrigerators or appliances, garages, behind a hot water heater or typically anywhere they wish to go. These are also places a female could choose to lay her eggs, up to 14-16 a week and even 320 within five months, as they choose places for their eggs that are moist, provide protection and are near food.

Are palmetto bugs a sign of uncleanliness?

The general misconception is that finding cockroaches around a residence is a sign of dirtiness.

In reality, the presence of palmetto bugs is not the stamp of disapproval around a home or any other establishment as they can even be found in the nicest homes, hotels and resorts.

“Palmetto bug” is a common nickname for the American cockroach.
“Palmetto bug” is a common nickname for the American cockroach.

Palmetto bugs aren’t on a mission to find a filthy environment so much as they are to find food, water, warmth and shelter.

These insects are capable of dining on practically anything. A newly mulched garden is just as appetizing to a palmetto bug as the leftover dinner scraps from the night before in your neighbor’s garbage receptacle.

“Palmetto bugs are attracted to homes for a number of different reasons. First, they love humidity and warmth, and homes often provide that. They tend to eat decaying vegetation, and again, homes can usually provide that, too. Moreover, though, they need a reliable source of water, and homes, particularly bathrooms, often are able to provide that as well,” according to Slug-A-Bug, a pest control servicing company.

Will they bite?

“Palmetto bugs stick to a diet of plants, food scraps, garbage and decaying meat, so it’s very unusual for them to bite humans. However, if bitten, the bite will look like a small, red mark that should heal within a couple of days,” according to House Method.

Seldom will a palmetto bug ever choose to get close enough to a human to bite them, but, on a rare occasion, you might get bitten if they can’t find enough food to eat. Palmetto bugs are not aggressive and won’t attack. If a bite does occur, you will likely be left with mild skin irritation.

Additionally, the insect’s cleanliness comes into play in terms of certain dangers they may pose.

Palmetto bugs can pose different but several health risks. They serve as hosts to a number of harmful pathogens, including salmonella, which can contaminate food or be spread as they walk across kitchen countertops or other surfaces, leading to illness.

Their feces and sheddings they leave behind can also cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks in some people who might not even know they are allergic.

During their many adventures, these insects can also pick up dangerous diseases such as salmonellosis, typhoid fever, cholera, gastroenteritis, dysentery, listeriosis, giardia, and E. coli infection, reports Planet Natural Research Center.

Along with yourself and your family, dogs can be affected by their presence.

“Palmetto bugs can serve as an intermediate host for parasites that infect dogs and humans. These include whipworms, the giant human roundworm, pinworms, tapeworms, and hookworms. These are shed in their feces and can then infect the dogs and people in the house,” Planet Natural Research Center states.

Signs you might have an infestation

Palmetto bugs can often avoid detection for quite a while if you don’t know what to look for, as these insects are typically nocturnal.

So, if you want to remain vigilant, some of the following signs may mean it’s time to call pest control.

  • Finding little black droppings, typically in the morning when they weren’t there the night prior, that appear like pepper grains or specks of dirt. This is a key telltale sign of an infestation.

  • Spotting a live bug. Some Palmetto bugs may forage for food during the daytime if there is a heavy infestation.

  • A lingering musty spell. This may be around where they reside during the day.

  • Damage to items in your home from their chewing behavior.

  • Left behind fecal smears.

  • Finding egg cases in or around your home.