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 Post subject: Palmetto bugs?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 7:54 am 
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Ok, so as I was getting ready to move to Florida, whenever I ran across someone who had lived there they would tell me about the huge palmetto bugs they have down there. I've heard that they are brown or green or somewhere in between. I've heard they are between 2 and 3 inches in length. I didn't think much more about them and figured I would just wait and see for myself.

After my landlord mentioned something about them, I decided to look them up to see what they look like. I was shocked to find out that Palmetto bug is just another name for a cockroach. So what's the deal? My theory is that people have a big hatred if roaches, but if they call it a palmetto bug then it's maybe not so bad. A roach is an indestructible harbinger of disease that will colonize in your home, but a palmetto bug is just an annoying large bug. Am I onto something here?



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 Post subject: Re: Palmetto bugs?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 6:10 pm 
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The common name is applied to two species of cockroach that I can find, the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana and the Florida woods cockroach Eurycotis floridana.

I suspect the native was labeled as "Palmetto bug", and then the name carried over to anything looking like a cockroach. I mean none of them are even bugs!

Orin might have something to add too.

Check out BugGuide:

http://bugguide.net/node/view/33670



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 Post subject: Re: Palmetto bugs?
PostPosted: Thu Mar 07, 2013 7:44 pm 
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TheVez2 wrote:
Ok, so as I was getting ready to move to Florida, whenever I ran across someone who had lived there they would tell me about the huge palmetto bugs they have down there. I've heard that they are brown or green or somewhere in between. I've heard they are between 2 and 3 inches in length. I didn't think much more about them and figured I would just wait and see for myself.

After my landlord mentioned something about them, I decided to look them up to see what they look like. I was shocked to find out that Palmetto bug is just another name for a cockroach. So what's the deal? My theory is that people have a big hatred if roaches, but if they call it a palmetto bug then it's maybe not so bad. A roach is an indestructible harbinger of disease that will colonize in your home, but a palmetto bug is just an annoying large bug. Am I onto something here?


Almost 60 years ago my family lived in the Tampa Bay area for a while. Even back then, the locals talked about palmetto bugs. And they really were P. americana, and I can't tell you how many I ran over with my roller skates under the street lights at dusk! None of these people had even heard of wood roaches or the like.

People in the south coined the name "palmetto bug" because it is considered bad form to admit to having roaches in one's home. Palmetto bug sounds so much nicer.

While they do colonize our homes, they are seldom as much a problem as the little German cockroach or croton bug. But, they're almost impossible to eliminate because they naturally live outdoors along the US Sunbelt and only invade our homes casually, looking for food and a little shelter. Since there's a naturally occurring wild, reservoir population in your or your neighbors' yards and surrounding wild spaces, there's no hope of completely getting rid of them. As soon as you eliminate your house guests, another contingent moves in from outdoors.

You need to explore the possibility of signing a contract with a local exterminator. Just be certain to impress upon them the fact that you have tarantulas that are also very sensitive to pesticides and that the EXTERMINATOR'S life may depend on their not killing your tarantulas along with the roaches! Generally, they'll be very compliant.

WARNING - If a cockroach eats or contacts a pesticide, then wanders into a tarantula's cage before dying, and the tarantula eats the cockroach, THE TARANTULA WILL AT LEAST DISPLAY SYMPTOMS SIMILAR TO DKS, IF NOT OUTRIGHT DIE! You want to do whatever you can to avoid this sort of situation (e.g., stand cages in pools of oil, seal with "microscreen, etc.). Just remember that the palmetto bugs and other roaches can reach overhead some distance to grab the bottom of the cages away from the pools of oil, or drop onto the cages from above. (Click or right-click the thumbnails to see larger images.)

Image

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(Photos by Jen Burge. Used with permission. Way to go Jen!)

Now you're just barely beginning to scratch the surface of what the true meaning is of "Life on Earth!"

Enjoy your little 6-legged housemates!



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 Post subject: Re: Palmetto bugs?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2013 12:32 am 
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Like Stan said, the term "palmetto bug" is generally applied to the American cockroach (strange considering its native range is probably tropical Africa). My understanding is that the name originated because they can often be found outside hiding in the palmettos (in the southeastern USA); the species is considered a peridomestic pest (i.e., it's not a species that often causes severe infestations inside homes but instead is more abundant in sewer pipes and other similar situations outdoors). They're ubiquitous throughout the southeastern USA and it doesn't matter how clean one keeps their home... an occasional cockroach will inevitably find its way inside. And also like Stan said, they are mechanical vectors of all sorts of bacterial and viral diseases (they've also been experimentally inoculated with various protozoan parasites and are known carriers of dog tapeworms).


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 Post subject: Re: Palmetto bugs?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2013 11:27 pm 
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Another euphamistic name for cockroaches I used to hear back in Virginia (mostly from real estate agents) was "water bug", because they were found in damp areas of the home, like basements. However, they do at least have a superficial resembalance to real wate bugs, especiallty Lethocerus americanus.


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