Palmetto Bug…Pretty Name…Ghastly Pest

We’ve lived in Florida for about 24 years now…practically natives.  We’re what they call “Damn Yankees,” the kind that won’t go home.  Actually we love Florida—the emerald gulf coast and white sand beaches; the glorious sunshine; lush, green, tropical vegetation; the laid-back lifestyle and southern hospitality—it’s home, sweet home.

But, everywhere has its down side.  California is gorgeous, but earthquakes without warning would make me a nervous wreck.  New York has tons of culture, but I’ve been there, done that, and its fast pace is too frenzied for the southern gal I’ve now become.  (I used to honk my horn at everyone when I first moved here.  Now I can’t even find the horn.)  The Midwest is too dang cold for me in the winter…chilling me to the very bone.  And Arizona is too dry for this water lover.

Florida has hurricanes, tornadoes, humidity…and Palmetto bugs.  What a pretty name for a bug!  But don’t be fooled.  It’s nothing but an overgrown, fat, two-to-three-inch cockroach.

I was horrified to find these little, well-armored monsters running across our living room carpet after first moving here.  I called the bug man and had him spray everywhere.

“Don’t worry, Ma’am,” he assured me.  “They don’t breed in the house.  They just come in from the outside.  Best to seal all the openings in your house, to keep ‘em out.”

Don’t worry???

I immediately went to the hardware store and scoured the shelves for something to seal all the openings around my pipes, wiring, and anything else that poked a hole through my drywall.  I had no idea how many kinds of calking were on the market.  My eye caught the words “foam calking.”

Aaaaah.  Just what I need.

My husband came home from work that day to find large “poofs” of hardened foam calking around every opening and crevice in our house.

“So, how was your day?” he asked, with a slight worry in his voice.  Perhaps he feared that if he made the wrong move, or said the wrong thing, he’d get a mouthful of foam calking.

“Very productive.  Our house is now sealed…from Palmetto bugs.”

He didn’t say another word.  Smart man.

But I’ll be darned if those little monsters didn’t know how to flatten their ugly, reddish brown bodies and squeeze their way into our home anyway.  I absolutely freaked one morning while making the bed.  As I lifted my pillow to fluff it a little, there…under my pillow…was a dead Palmetto bug.

What was it doing in our bed while it was alive?!  How long was it crawling around?  Holy-shamoley, what if my mouth was open???

California’s earthquakes were beginning to look pretty good.

I’m not one for drama, but I had to get on the phone and call all my native Florida friends for a solution.  Combat Roach Bait was the resounding reply.

I went to the store.  They had lots of different kinds of Combat.  I snatched up ten boxes with the scariest looking label.  I brought them home and planted the traps everywhere…under beds and sinks, in cabinets, behind TVs…anywhere those creepy fiends could invade.

Now, if we encounter a Palmetto bug, it’s usually dead…and on its back.  Why do they always die on their backs, legs curled upward?

I can hear them now.

Time to die!  Better roll over on my back!

But such wasn’t the case a few nights ago.  I was working at my desk when I spotted an especially large Palmetto bug scurrying over the top of my monitor.  I screamed and lurched back, alerting the hubby.  Trouble is, the little monster flew directly at my face…yes, flew!  And my mouth was still open…screaming.  Not too smart.

Fortunately, it missed my mouth as I went into a frenzied spasm and fell off my chair to the floor.  It landed on the chair as my hubby arrived on the scene.

“Kill it!” I shrieked.  “Kill it!”

Here’s the difference between guys and gals.  I scream with my mouth open, while a large, kamikaze flying cockroach is zeroing in on my gaping orifice.

My hubby calmly asks, “Where’s a tissue?”

A tissue?!  I would need a big wad of paper towels!

He snatches a tissue from his pocket and scoops up the assailant—squashing it—with only the thin fibers of tissue between his skin and the monster.

What a man!

I’m safe once more…and still loving Florida.

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7 Responses to “Palmetto Bug…Pretty Name…Ghastly Pest”

  1. Don Jones Says:

    Judy, It brings back memories of the ten years I lived there. I remember picking up a sheet of plywood in the yard and finding hundreds of them scurring everywhere. Very funny story. Thanks Don

  2. Robyn Says:

    Leave it to southerners to name something so disgusting a pretty name. “Rhett, Rhett, get that ugly cockroach off our veranda”. “Frankly, Scarlett, it’s a Palmetto bug and I don’t give a damn if it lives or dies.”

    Very funny! You have the talent!

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