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“P” is for Palmetto Bug

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South Carolina from A to Z: “P” is for Palmetto Bug

“P” is for Palmetto bug. Three hundred million years ago during the Carboniferous period, cockroaches made their appearance on earth. The American cockroach or palmetto bug is the largest of the cockroaches to infest our homes. It may grow to one and one-half inches in length and has reddish-brown wings. Both males and females have fully-developed wings and can run fast and fly. They live in moist areas and love city sewer systems. There are several myths concerning the origin of the term “palmetto bug.” One theory is that the insect drew its name from its home in the stubs of palm fronds left on the trunks of palmetto trees. Another is that proper South Carolinians did not have common cockroaches in their homes, but rather a more genteel insect dubbed the “palmetto bug.”

Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.