The flying cockroach is, of all the fearsome pests one hopes to never encounter, perhaps the most viscerally repulsive. Discovering a cockroach skittering across your counters or floors is bad enough. Seeing that same large bug take flight is another thing entirely.

Whether you’re curious about flying cockroaches or in urgent need of a roach exterminator, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading to learn more about flying cockroaches in the Southeast, the potential risks they pose to your home and family and why Terminix has been the trusted name in cockroach control for over 75 years.

What Are Flying Cockroaches? What Do Flying Cockroaches Look Like?

In our neck of the woods (North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia) the most notorious flying cockroaches—the giant ones you hear stories about, that inspire nightmares and send homeowners running to call in professional cockroach exterminators—are usually adult members of the American or smokybrown cockroach species. 

Flying cockroaches are dark brown with a shiny carapace and pronounced antennae. They grow quite large especially compared to other common species, from about one-and-a-half to two inches, with antennae nearly equal in length. And, unfortunately for homeowners in the area, they do especially well in the warm and humid weather typical of the Southeast.

These large cockroaches—colloquially known as palmetto bugs—thrive at a temperature range in the 70s and 80s in dark, damp environments. As summer arrives, palmetto bugs often seek cooler shelter indoors, scurrying and flying into homes across the Southeast. The quest for food and water also drive flying cockroaches into homes.

Palmetto bugs are known to nest in basements, crawlspaces, drains, and other dark out-of-the-way places. Here’s what you need to look out for.

Signs of Flying Cockroaches in Your Home

Cockroaches have a reputation for stealth, and oftentimes avoid detection for weeks or months. They are naturally nocturnal, avoiding the light and encamping in tight, tiny spaces, so it’s important to be on the lookout for signs of their presence.

Keep an eye out for cockroach droppings. From larger roaches, droppings look like small cylindrical capsules. From smaller ones, they resemble ground coffee or black pepper.

Also note any discarded carapaces, wings, or legs—these are signs of a growing population.

And if you’re not seeing any signs of palmetto bugs, you might be able to smell them. These cockroaches give off a distinctive musty scent that is easy to identify.

Of course, the biggest (and worst) sign that you’ve got a flying cockroach in your home is having one fly at you. In part, this is where flying cockroaches get their reputation for repulsion.

How to Get Rid of a Flying Cockroach

For many homeowners, the first instinct is to squash a cockroach, but we’d advise against it. If you come across a flying cockroach, your best option is to try and remove it with a vacuum or usher it outside without killing it. (Hopefully it will take the hint and not return!) 

Squashing a cockroach hastens the spread of bacteria, which can be dangerous to humans. There’s also the chance that a squashed cockroach will attract others. Dead cockroaches release a pheromone when they die, alerting others in the area to a cannibalistic dining opportunity. Extra gross!

For a homeowner actively dealing with cockroaches, removal is the priority.  Professional cockroach removal services—like those available from the friendly experts at your local Terminix branch—are a safe and efficient way to solve the problem quickly. (Not to mention, pest and cockroach control from Terminix is backed up by the industry’s strongest guarantee.)

Flying Cockroach FAQs

1. Can Cockroaches Fly?

Yes, cockroaches can fly. If you’ve spent any time in the Southeast, you’ve probably encountered so-called palmetto bugs, the local name for the large, flying American or smokybrown cockroaches. 

These seemingly supersized pests have a reputation for spooking people by flying right at them. (In reality, they’re flying at the brightest light source. You’re just in the way!)

2. Do German Cockroaches Fly?

Adult German cockroaches have wings, but they never fly. As a rule, they prefer running, and are much faster and agile on the ground. In fact, their wings aren’t capable of powered flight, meaning it’s impossible for German cockroaches to “take off” and start flying like roaches of other species.

3. Do All Cockroaches Fly?

All cockroaches have wings, but not all cockroaches fly. Most cockroaches do not fly at all, and those that do are typically clumsy, awkward fliers. Some species are more graceful in the air, and others go their whole life without ever using their wings to fly.  

4. Do Baby Cockroaches Fly?

No, baby cockroaches (also known as nymphs) do not fly. At that point in their lifecycle, cockroaches do not yet have wings.

5. Where Do Flying Cockroaches Come From?

Flying cockroaches typically come from the outside, seeking shelter, food, and water. During the warmest months, cockroaches will head inside to beat the heat. 

As to where they enter from, the answer is  “just about anywhere.”  Drains, windows, and miniscule cracks in the foundation are just as inviting as an open door to these pests. 

There’s also the possibility that flying cockroaches are coming from an already-established nest inside your house. If you’re seeing multiple flying cockroaches with any frequency, this could very well be the case in your home.

6. Do Flying Cockroaches Bite?

Flying cockroaches are unlikely to bite humans. They could, but instances of this happening are pretty uncommon.

7. Are Flying Cockroaches Dangerous?

For homeowners, flying cockroaches are just as dangerous as regular cockroaches, and for the same reasons.

While they won’t be chomping down on you or your pets, flying cockroaches can still pose a serious health risk to your family, carrying and spreading diseases and other harmful microorganisms as they move about.

For Flying Cockroach Removal, Trust Terminix

Terminix has been helping homeowners in the area deal with flying cockroaches — as well as all of the other common pests — for more than 75 years. Our teams of local, expertly trained technicians have the knowledge and experience you need to rid your home of cockroaches (flying or otherwise). 

Even better, our services are all backed by the strongest guarantee in the industry. If the bugs come back, so do we.

Don’t let flying cockroaches —or any pest— terrorize your home this year. Call Terminix to request a free inspection or schedule a service visit today!

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