Q: We have noticed palmetto bugs (a.k.a. large brown roaches about two inches long) in vast numbers all over our driveway. My daughter is afraid to walk up the driveway and I am always prepared to hear one crunch under my frequently bare feet. They don’t seem to be as bad at other drives. We like a natural environment but we seem to be out of balance with these creatures. How can we manage their population?
A: It is one of life’s mysteries that Darwinian selection has not produced roaches able to drive cars by this point in history. After all, the insects have survived every poison and trap mankind could devise but they still seem to thrive and multiply.
Their secret is adaptability. Roaches can find their basic needs of moisture and organic food material just about anywhere. I don’t know why your driveway is “Party Central” for them but I believe human brainpower is still superior to theirs.
Your best bet for immediate short term control is to sprinkle outdoor insecticide granules (click for sources) in a two foot wide band beside the driveway and onto any mulched areas in your landscape. Consider raking out and replacing mulch before you apply the poison; this will eliminate moist harborage areas under the pine straw.
For the long term, roach bait stations work very well. Use at least a dozen, placed in sheltered locations around the exterior of your house. Look for products containing fipronil (click for sources) . They will give you short term and long term protection from the crawling critters.