What does a Garden Gnome do when she is not gardening, in the kitchen or doing genealogy? Well the answer might just surprise you so read the entries to find out more. This blog focuses on everything we do to make our house a home. There will be a strong emphasis on home energy efficiency and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. At the same time there will also be crafts, knitting and crocheting projects along with any other little tips we do to create that down to earth, I want to be here home. Please enjoy your visit :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Palmetto Bug (Waterbug)

palmetto bug
Palmetto Bug
May 25, 2010

On the last day of our vacation I spotted what I thought was a Palmetto bug on the outside of the lanai so snapped a picture to find out what we were dealing with.  Despite the house being empty for a year and a half it was surprisingly free of any signs of insect infestation.  There were a few tiny flies that were dead on some of the windowsills which would be quite normal even if the house had been open.  Other than that the only other bug in the house was again what I thought was a live Palmetto bug in the toilet but I was half awake so didn't think much more about it other than flushing.  When we arrived home I decided to do a bit of research.

The bug in the toilet and outside the lanai were Palmetto bugs.  The Palmetto bug aka Waterbug is also called the American cockroach.  They are frequent house pests in the southern United States.  Palmetto bugs reach a length of about 2 inches.  They can walk across ceilings and fly.  Palmetto bugs will not hurt you unless trapped in something like a shoe then they will bite.  They may fly at your face mistaken you for a tree if trying to get to safety.  Great just what I need!  The solution to Palmetto bugs is much the same as any other insect that invades the house.
  • remove all sources of food and water
  • block and seal all entry points
  • manual removal
  • in the case of large infestations do a complete knockdown with a residual pesticide
  • clear any encouraging vegetation (habitat) from around the perimeter of the house
  • hang damp clothing and towels rather than leave them on the floor
In the case of Palmetto bugs it is advised to keep all drains plugged when not in use.   Since the vacation home will be closed up when we are not there or when rented out keeping the food area meticulously clean won't be a problem.  There won't be any food in the cabinets the bugs could get into either.  I will take the precaution of sealing the toaster in a large sealable bag as well, a trick I learned when dealing with the large black ants here.  We don't have any potted houseplants so that removes that source of water.  On our next trip I will put out a few of the sticky mouse traps.  I don't think it is really necessary but it won't hurt when the house is closed up just in case.  I will also be going around the house to caulk any cracks or openings these bugs could get in. 

Again this is a fairly new house (2007) so this is not going to be a big task and I certainly don't think there is any real infestation but the time to deal with this is the first time the pest is spotted.  I think the area to focus on is the lanai as we know the small gecko can get in.  Geckos will catch and eat Palmetto bugs so the lanai to some degree is protected with out little guy.  From experience if the patio door between the lanai and kitchen is not closed then anything that gets into the lanai can get into the house.  So I will focus on sealing the lanai then check for any other areas that need sealing.

Garden Gnome