Summary: Palmetto bugs are American Cockroaches, but with a more appealing name. These suckers are big, they can fly, and they aren't scared of anything or anyone. Palmetto bugs are creepy, but getting rid of palmetto bugs can be a cinch.
The easiest way to kill roaches that have made their way inside the house is to take a boot and smash them. I am not the least bit sympathetic towards such a rude trespasser. If you are skittish around big, flying, filth covered, insects that can bite (I did mention that they can bite, right?) as I am, then you can also use a pesticide like Tempo 1% dust. The dust should be sprinkled along the edges of walls or cabinets, or any other crack where there is evidence of roach activity like shed skins, brown fecal stains, or dead bodies. (Don't ask me why the dead bodies always seemed to be turned over on their backs with the legs curled up. That's a whole different article.) An insecticide duster could help you apply the Borax more efficiently. Don't want to touch pesticide? Go for the Advion Roach Bait Arena. It's large enough the handle the American cockroach.
You can start with your control efforts by applying Maxforce Complete Granular Insect Bait around the exterior foundations. Palmetto bugs love it and so do all the various ant species.
If I had to vote in a contest for world's ugliest animal I would have to cast my ballet for the Palmetto Bug. These things are gross. It also has horrible manners.
Palmetto bugs are reddish brown and grow up to two inches in length. It is also known as the American cockroach. It has a pair of large wings on its back that can be used for flying, but wings that are tough enough to act like a shield when the cockroach is on the ground. Palmetto bugs need moisture to survive and only live in warm, tropical climates. It can be found outdoors across the southern United States, but is also a common insect found in commercial facilities with high heat and humidity.
The reason I say that Palmetto bugs have horrible manners is not only because they invade homes in search of food or to avoid cool weather. It is bad enough that they come in uninvited, but they also leave excrement in the cracks and crevices where they inhabit. The Palmetto bug feeds on any kind of organic material and this often includes garbage or sewage waste. They can get inside by way of sewer connections and they can track in bacteria laden particles. This contamination can lead to health problems like food poisoning, dysentery, and diarrhea. Cockroaches molt as they age, shedding their skins as their bodies grow larger. These shed skins can cause allergy problems for people sensitive to them, and can contribute to childhood asthma.
Once, while in New Orleans, I saw a cockroach on a kitchen counter. I think it saw me, too. I'm pretty sure of this, because the cockroach stood up on its back legs, making the terrifyingly large bug appear even bigger, and it hissed at me. Apparently Madagascar hissing cockroaches aren't the only species of roaches that can audibly alert you to their discontent. Next, there was a kind of showdown. The cockroach spread its wings. It seemed to be gauging my reaction to determine if I would have the courage to confront it with the shoe I had taken off of my foot for the purpose of squashing it. Sensing that I was indeed planning on making a move, the cockroach leapt into the air with a flurry of beating wings and flew straight towards my face, sending me ducking for cover. The battle ended with me grabbing a can of Raid so I could kill the roach from a distance. I would have to say the Palmetto bug won that showdown. See what I mean about horrible manners?
Most American cockroaches are probably not that aggressive, but they are noted for not scattering from light like many other species of roach. Luckily, they are also not as difficult to get rid of as smaller roach species like the German cockroach. Palmetto bugs have a comparatively slow reproduction rate, and their large size makes them easier to exclude from buildings than smaller species. Palmetto bugs can be kept out by adding weather stripping under doors, adding wire mesh barriers over storm drains and crawl space vents, and by caulking the cracks around water pipes that might be providing an entryway into a home. Fixing leaky pipes can also take away a water source that the roaches might be depending on.
Still too complicated? Buy a cat. Palmetto bugs make fantastic toys for fun loving felines. Or, simply call the local exterminator to solve your pest control needs.