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Bug of the day — Florida woods cockroach

First things first – this is NOT a palmetto bug, at least not by the BugWeek Web Team’s definition.

Why? Because if there’s anything the palmetto bug is known for, it’s the ability to fly… and the Florida woods cockroach, Eurycotis floridana, has no wings.

Disappointed? Surprised? Just thankful for the fact that there isn’t one in your house right now?

Anyway, here’s what distinguishes this roach —

For one thing, it’s big, reaching a maximum length of about 1.6 inches.

For another, it’s relatively easy to identify, due to its very dark brown coloration and the prominent ridges across the upper side of its abdomen.

As its name suggests, the Florida woods cockroach is found almost exclusively in Florida, along with small, southern portions of Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

Even though this species is commonly found around human dwellings, it doesn’t usually want to invade our living spaces.

This critter feeds on damp, decaying plant matter. So it typically dwells in and around woodpiles, plant beds with too much mulch, compost bins, sheds, storage areas, and other quiet places where there’s lots of food.

When the Florida woods cockroach does show up inside a home, it’s probably because someone accidentally carried a specimen inside, accompanying a load of firewood or a box of stored items.

Occasionally, this species will enter dwellings when it’s out foraging for food. Or it may look at your home as a shelter from sunlight, cold or rain.

So, if you encounter a Florida woods cockroach indoors, the BugWeek Web Team asks that you suppress the urge to stomp (we know it’s tough) and instead try to relocate the bug.

One removal method that’s worked well for the BugWeek Web Team is to take a paper towel, crumple it slightly, then use the paper towel to seize the cockroach and hold it firmly, just long enough to walk outside. Once there, you can simply throw the paper towel on the ground and let the roach find his or her way out.

This not only helps the cockroach survive its adventure, it helps keep your hands clean – this species secretes a stinky (but basically harmless) chemical when alarmed. One BugWeek Web Team member confesses that she just picks them up bare-handed (though we admit she’s very brave, and occasionally smelly.)

We realize that it’s hard for most people to let a cockroach go about its business unharmed, but Eurycotis floridana performs a beneficial service, so it deserves a little bit of consideration.

You can read more about the Florida woods cockroach in this document from UF/IFAS Electronic Data Information Source, also known as the EDIS online library.

Also, here’s information about managing cockroaches in and around your home.