Brown, large Florida Woods Cockroach on brown and tan colored tree trunk.
image by iNaturalist user ethanjohnsonwildlife (CC BY NC 4.0)

What’s going on? 

With over 55 species of cockroach in the United States, it can be difficult to tell them apart. 

You might have come across a cockroach-looking insect and thought, “palmetto bug!” 

Palmetto bug is a regional term used in the Southern United States to refer to cockroaches or similar-looking insects.  

A few species of cockroaches that fall under the palmetto bug name are the American cockroach and the smoky woods cockroach. 

Large, brown Florida Woods Cockroach on big green leaf.
image by iNaturalist user sullivanribbit (CC BY NC 4.0)

Why it matters.

Perhaps the most deserving of the palmetto bug name is the Florida woods cockroach who enjoys the habitat that cabbage palms provide, hence the name palmetto bug.  

Cockroaches are beneficial insects who usually find their way into your home by accident, transported by firewood or some other material that spent time outdoors.  

American Cockroach on gray and brown rocks
image by iNaturalist user mecopteron_bouillon (CC BY NC 4.0)

What you can do. 

Simple actions like inspecting bags and boxes that enter your home, regularly wiping down your trashcans, and reducing the presence of free-standing water such as a full sink and leaky pipe can help reduce the chances of cockroaches establishing themselves in your home.  

Information from IFAS UF and Planet Natural. Image by iNaturalist users ethanjohnsonwildlife (CC BY NC 4.0), sullivanribbit (CC BY NC 4.0), fherrerav (CC BY NC 4.0), and mecopteron_bouillon (CC BY NC 4.0).  

Important insects like the Florida Woods Cockroach are declining globally, and they need our help. To learn what you can do to Protect the Insects, visit: