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Differences Between a Palmetto Bug and Cockroach

Jul 21, 2022 -- Posted by : Thomas Pest Control

If you’ve ever been told you have an infestation of Palmetto Bugs, then you may be wondering, “how is a Palmetto Bug different from a cockroach?”. Considering these two critters look very similar, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re exactly the same.

Although a Palmetto Bug is a type of cockroach, it varies in several ways to other more common species of cockroach, such as the German Cockroach.

Keep reading to learn the main differences between these two critters, including their appearance, habitat, what attracts them, and more.


Despite their many similarities in appearance, it is only once you familiarize yourself with the differences between a Palmetto Bug and a cockroach’s size and markings that you can tell them apart.

Firstly, Palmetto Bugs are larger than most other types of cockroaches, including common varieties such as German Cockroaches and Smoky Brown Cockroaches. Palmetto Bugs typically grow to a length of 30–40 mm.
Additionally, they vary in terms of color and markings. Palmetto bugs' shells are often redder or more orange in color than other brown or black varieties of cockroaches. They feature a cream-colored anterior region between their first two legs. This cream color is accented with darker patterns.

Palmetto Bugs also have wings and can fly. This is something most other varieties of cockroaches (particularly those found indoors) cannot do and is, therefore, a major differentiator.


Palmetto Bugs are commonly found in Florida and are named after their love of residing in palmetto bushes. In fact, they’re drawn to warm climates and are most commonly found living in areas along the coast.

Perhaps one of the biggest differences between Palmetto Bugs and other varieties of cockroaches, however, is the fact that Palmetto Bugs prefer to live outside. Therefore, if you stumble upon a rather large-looking cockroach outdoors, then it’s most likely a Palmetto Bug, rather than one of its more common cockroach cousins.

Palmetto Bugs will occasionally wander into a home, however, particularly when seeking warmth and moisture. As a result, they’re often found in areas such as bathrooms, basements, kitchens, or attics. When outdoors, they’ll nest among trash cans, trees, leaf litter, mulch, and septic tanks.

This is in contrast to the average cockroach, which typically prefers to live indoors all year round.

What Attracts Them

While a Palmetto Bug will mainly move indoors to seek out a more humid environment in the cooler months, a standard cockroach resides indoors for plenty of other reasons. Most specifically, cockroaches are primarily attracted to indoor food scraps and waste, which make up their main diet.

Palmetto Bugs often feast on scraps and other insects outdoors, so they are less likely to live indoors purely in search of food sources.

The Bottom Line

Despite their many similarities, Palmetto Bugs are distinct from other common varieties of cockroaches, including German Cockroaches and Smoky Brown Cockroaches.

Being able to differentiate between these species can greatly assist you in knowing whether you have a Palmetto Bug or a cockroach infestation in or around your home. This then allows pest control services to get to the bottom of the problem and prevent these critters from coming back again!


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