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Palmetto Bugs in Southern California

Kevin Kinder

They go by many names: water bugs, cockroaches, palmetto bugs and more. No matter what you call them, these creatures are unwelcome in the home. Cockroaches can spread diseases such as food poisoning and diarrhea, and some people are allergic to this bug's very presence. There are many different types of cockroaches in the world, and five types of these palmetto bugs are common in Southern California.

German Cockroach

Some subspecies of cockroaches are capable of producing 150 offspring per year.

German cockroaches are the most common type of these bugs, and they are found throughout the country, according to EPestsupply.com. These six-legged creatures are about a 1/2 inch or slightly larger in size and are brown or dark brown. They prefer damp locations, such as kitchens and bathrooms. German cockroaches, on average, live between 100 and 200 days and produce as many as 400 offspring during their life span.

American Cockroach

American cockroaches are often referred to as water bugs and, particularly in southern parts of the country, palmetto bugs. These roaches are longer than their German counterparts, averaging about 2 inches when fully mature. American cockroaches are reddish brown and have a yellow figure-eight shape on the backs of their heads, says Pest World for Kids. They prefer warm, wet places.

Oriental Cockroach

Oriental cockroaches are present throughout the United States. These 1-inch-long roaches, which are also sometimes referred to as water bugs, are dark brown or black. This species lives in sewers or among decaying matter, such as decomposing leaves. Because of their habitat, Pest World for Kids describes Oriental cockroaches as "one of the dirtiest of all the cockroaches."

Smoky Brown Cockroach

Smoky brown cockroaches are closely related to American cockroaches, but are slightly smaller and more of a mahogany brown in color, says EPestsupply.com. The same website notes that while these roaches are not often found in Northern states, their presence has been documented in Southern California, as well as the Gulf Coast, East Coast and Texas. They often eat plant material and can be found near decaying organic matter such as wood shingles or firewood.

Brown-Banded Cockroach

Brown-banded cockroaches are less common than German, American or Oriental cockroaches but are found in California. Brown-banded cockroaches can be identified by the lighter-colored bands that circle their bodies. These bugs eat starchy foods such as book bindings and wallpaper and can be found in any room of the house. Brown-banded cockroaches are the smallest of the California cockroaches, with an average size of 1/2 inch.