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Waterbug, sewer roach, Palmetto bug...what is this Tempe pest?

Everyone calls this pest something different, and that causes a great deal of confusion around its identification. Between the scientific name, street names, and misidentification, you might hear this bug called a water bug, palmetto bug, sewer roach, or most simply, cockroach. But chances are, the reddish-brown insect you’re seeing is an American Cockroach, or Periplaneta americana. No matter what you call them, they may be crawling through your drains. These pests love warm, damp places, particularly the sewers of Tempe, Arizona.


Sewer roaches in Tempe

According to the City of Tempe, the city’s manholes are treated regularly in an effort to control sewer roaches. However, with Tempe’s 9,100+ manholes and 1,100+ clean-outs, it is a difficult task to keep these pests under control. Not to mention, the storm drain system and private sewer systems are not treated by the City of Tempe. If not monitored by another party, there is great opportunity for cockroaches to move in.     

Water bug vs. cockroach

Cockroaches, particularly American cockroaches, are often referred to as water bugs by those that spot them. The water bug is actually a different insect altogether. Even though cockroaches like warm, damp areas, they are not actually aquatic insects. Water bugs, however, are aquatic and spend a great deal of time in the water. Cockroaches need water to survive, but they do not make a point of gliding through it as water bugs often do.


Palmetto bug vs. cockroach

“Palmetto bug” is often used in reference to the American cockroach, but it is actually a generic term that can refer to other cockroach species, such as smoky brown or oriental cockroaches as well. This colloquial name comes from the insect’s tendency to hide underneath the leaves of palmetto trees, particularly in the southern United States.

Health risks of cockroaches

cockroach eating sugar

American cockroaches feed on filth and decaying materials, meaning they are frequently exposed to a lot of bacteria. The cockroaches carry this bacteria around on their legs and bodies and then deposit it on surfaces over which they crawl, from food preparation surfaces to food itself.

A study from the Journal of Medical Entomology found American cockroaches to carry at least 22 species of bacteria and fungi. When humans ingest this bacteria, they can contract various forms of gastroenteritis or other diseases. Additionally, cockroach saliva, feces, and discarded skin are significant allergens that can trigger asthma attacks.

How to prevent roaches in Tempe

The primary way to keep your home or business roach-free is to maintain a sanitary environment. Roaches are attracted to food sources and collections of filth, so reducing these will lessen the chances of a cockroach infestation. This includes ensuring that garbage receptacles are sealed tightly. Additionally, make sure to seal any cracks or crevices that could allow cockroaches to enter, especially in basements.

Though the air in Tempe is generally fairly dry, keeping the humidity low in your home or business will also help to deter roaches, so using a dehumidifier may be advantageous. Drains should be used a minimum of once a week to maintain water barriers.

You may also want to pour bleach down your drains to flush out any pests that are taking up residence in your pipes. If you’re not going to use a drain for an extended period of time, cover it to prevent roaches from crawling through.

If you’re seeing cockroaches in your Tempe home or business, give Western Exterminator a call at 888-444-6138. Our pest specialists have the knowledge and resources to get rid of your cockroach infestation quickly and effectively.

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