Palmetto bug is a term that refers to a variety of cockroach species, most commonly the American cockroach and smoky brown cockroach. Australian cockroaches and Asian cockroaches are also referred to as palmetto bugs. Palmetto bugs tend to thrive in dark, damp areas such as sewers and wood piles.
American cockroaches are red to brown in color and are approximately 1 1/2 inches long. Smoky brown cockroaches are approximately 1 1/4 inches in length and are brown to black in color. Asian cockroaches are black in color and are approximately 1 inch long. Australian cockroaches are red-brown in color and are identifiable by light yellow markings on their forewings.
Palmetto bugs enter narrow openings leading into homes and buildings. Signs of a palmetto bug infestation include dark droppings that look like pepper or coffee grounds, musty odors, and egg casings that are often found behind furniture and on the inside pages of books.
Palmetto bugs feed on plants and meat. They typically don't bite humans, but they have been documented to feed on human flesh due to lack of other food sources during severe infestations.
American cockroach feces and saliva contain allergens and proteins that can lead to asthma and illness in certain individuals, so it is always important for home or building owners to consult with a professional exterminator in the event of an infestation.