Palmetto Bug VS Cockroach: What’s The Difference?

cockroaches in box

Do you have any idea what a palmetto bug is? The cockroach is the common name of about 4,000 species of bugs. Most people often end up confused about what precisely a cockroach is. This is because many bugs, like beetles, can look like them. This is also why so many of us also refer to them with one name.

Simply put, there is no difference between the palmetto bug and the cockroach. This is because the palmetto bug is just another name for this insect. Read on and discover why many people get confused with the word and why the common cockroach is also called the palmetto bug.

What Is A Palmetto Bug?


A palmetto bug is a moderate to a giant insect with a dark brown color and dark patterns near its head that look like dark glasses. As a nocturnal insect, this bug is very active at night as it tries to look for anything rotten to eat. It is opportunistic, and it can consume trash and even dead animals.

Although they will scurry away when there is light, they will sometimes fly towards it. Although this bug can eat a wide array of items, it does not consume blood. This is why it does not typically bite humans. If it does bite you, experts say that it can cause temporary irritations or a mild rash.

The palmetto bug does not have to come in contact with your skin to cause disease. If they can contact your food, kitchen utensils, or ingredients, they can easily contaminate it with Salmonella. If they have a nest in your house, they can also trigger asthma and allergies.


Sounds familiar? This is because the palmetto bug is a type of cockroach. But not just any cockroach. It is the widely known American cockroach commonly found in sewers, trash bins, and many unsanitary areas. It is also the same cockroach that carries deadly diseases.

The palmetto bug is considered the largest species of cockroaches. They release pheromones to signal that they are ready to mate, and they can produce 16 eggs in one case. The cockroach can produce hundreds of eggs in a lifetime. This is why it can be easy for them to create an infestation.

What’s In A Name?


The term cockroach has led to a lot of misidentification and misunderstanding. As mentioned, many people call all sorts of crawling and flying insects as a cockroach, thus giving the name away to other insects. This has also caused the actual cockroach to lose its own identity.

The palmetto bug is also known as the Periplaneta Americana. The name also refers to cockroaches commonly found in the Southern and Southeastern parts of Central America. The name “palmetto bug” is one of its folk names. Other folk names include “croton bug” and “water bug.”

When someone calls a bug a cockroach in the U.S., there is a huge chance that they are referring to another insect. For example, some people will call actual water bugs a cockroach, and a cockroach, even though it does not thrive in water, as a “water bug.”


roach on bread

To answer the question, the palmetto bug is the American cockroach. The term palmetto bug is a folk name given to the cockroach simply because they are commonly seen hiding behind the leaves of the palm tree. And because this bug is a cockroach, you need to understand its full impact.

This bug cannot live on the water, but it needs water or moisture for survival and breeding. Since its main focus is survival, you can expect that the palmetto bug will try to find suitable conditions inside your house. If it does find a good spot, it can multiply and create an infestation rapidly.

If you find a palmetto bug in your house, it might mean an infestation and that your home might need a lot of cleaning. You need to sanitize all the areas of your house, and you will need to use products that can kill the roaches on contact or bait them so that the infestation will be controlled.

If you see tens of them in your house, there is a big chance that hundreds more may be hiding somewhere dark, damp, and dirty. It might be best if you contact a pest control company so that the problem can be dealt with right away before the infestation spreads to other areas of your home.

Have you seen palmetto bugs scurrying around in your house? Tell us your story and share your experience with us in the comments section below.

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2 thoughts on “Palmetto Bug VS Cockroach: What’s The Difference?”

  1. Diatomaceous Earth (food grade only!) is very effective against all insects and for spiders as well and is not harmful to the environment, pets, or humans. However, it will kill our beneficial pollinators along with the pest insects so Please make sure it doesn’t get on any flowers or clover around the perimeter of your house. In fact, it’s probably best to use it inside under kitchen and bathroom cabinet sinks, on top of cabinets, behind and under home appliances, etc. Caulk and repair any entry holes, fix drywall cracks in walls and seal around water pipes and baseboards. Place mesh screens outside over windows, over floor drains, and vents. If you have gaps around doors and windows use weather stripping to seal them. If your entry doors don’t meet the threshold to seal properly, invest in a good sealer for the bottom of your doors. Use mesh screen cut to fit in sink drains (kitchen and bath) and cut to fit any vents in your home by screwing it in place under the vent covers. Keep your p-traps full of water by regularly running a bit of water in unused bathrooms flushing the toilets to keep the bowl from drying out. They’re not especially good swimmers as a rule, but some species can actually swim and remain underwater up to 15 minutes. So flush the unused toilet regularly. If this is a vacation home cover your toilet bowls with plastic wrap or mesh screen and duct tape it securely in place before you leave. The main thing is to make it as near to impossible for them to gain entry.

    They carry diseases that affect the digestive system including stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. They also shed their skins and leave droppings which can cause allergic reactions and asthma attacks in susceptible people.

    If any make it inside your home, the food grade diatomaceous earth will be effective to kill them. Other than that, just keep garbage out of your home, rinse your recyclable cans and bottles and keep your outside garbage cans away from your home. Clean and vacuum your home daily. Check your cabinets regularly for opened food and crumbs. Keep opened food sealed in containers or put in refrigerator. Keep pet food sealed in bins and pet food dishes cleaned out and put away every night before bedtime.

    I personally don’t use pesticides, boric acid, or borax because of environmental concerns and hope others feel the same way, not to mention the toxicity to humans and animals. I know this is a really long post, but I hope it helps others in the seemingly never-ending battle against these nasty pests.

  2. Also interesting is the potential origins of the Palmetto Bug’s name. One theory is that the term “palmetto bug” originates from its home in the stubs of palm fronds left on the trunks of palmetto trees. Another is that proper southern folks simply would not have common “cockroaches” in their homes, but rather a more genteel insect they dubbed the “palmetto bug.” I tend to enjoy the second possibility a great deal more!


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