The scientific name of this pest translates from Latin to “sand wanderer.” These desert-loving pests, also known as “desert cockroaches,” like it hot. They come from the cockroach family Polyphagidae. You can tell if sand cockroaches are in the area if there are small ridges in the sand, a result of their habit of burrowing. The females of this sandy species like the nightlife—a female adult sand cockroach stays in her burrow during the day to avoid the light. Males, however, are attracted to light. Sometimes a sand cockroach’s precise location can be given away by a small lump of sand appearing to move along the surface of the desert. Sand cockroaches may gain weight by absorbing water vapor from the atmosphere. Only an object or substance preventing the mouthparts from moving will keep the sand cockroach from atmospheric water absorption.
Sand Cockroach Identification
What sets these roaches apart is their similarity in appearance to trilobites. Females are black, oval-shaped, and wingless. Males are medium-brown in color, have long wings, and are strong fliers. You can tell if the sand cockroach has absorbed a lot of water by looking at its mouth, which has two little bladders that function to condense water vapor.
Sand Cockroach Habitat and Food Source
They are only found in the driest areas in the world. Sand cockroaches like to live in deserts and sand hills. They live in the dunes for the majority of the year, burrowing into soil during the winter. In the United States they can be found living specifically in the Colorado desert dunes and at the base of San Jacinto Peak in California.
These insects feed on the desert shrub roots where they get most of their water. Some species can extract water from the air. They also eat decaying leaves.
Sand Cockroaches and Humans
On rare occasions, sand cockroaches will enter human habitations. They do not cause direct harm to people and will not breed inside the home.
They are not known to carry disease or cause health problems in people. However, any unwanted insect entering the home can be cause for anxiety, especially if they are as unsightly as the sand cockroach.
As with any other species of cockroach, asthma sufferers and people with allergies are susceptible to breathing and skin problems associated with cockroach fecal matter and dust generated by desiccated cockroach carcasses, which contain a protein called tropomyosin.
Sand Cockroach Life Cycle
The female sand cockroach produces an egg-case or ootheca which she carries by the flange. She then burrows into the sand to hide it.
Sand Cockroach Control
Sand Cockroach Identification: Contact a pest control specialist to survey your home and identify if you have sand cockroaches.
Bait and Insecticide: Since these insects do not breed within the home, baited traps and insecticide should be enough to eradicate sand cockroaches that have wandered in. If you so choose, you can ask an exterminator to use an insecticide in bait, powder, or spray form containing boric acid, fipronil, hydramethylon, deltamethrin, or pyrethrin to terminate sand cockroaches most effectively.
Removal of Sand Cockroaches: The pest control specialist will vacuum up sand cockroach carcasses and sanitize the affected area.
DIY and Green Solutions for Sand Cockroach Control
Shut it! Homeowners should close entryways making sure exterior doors seal tightly. Make use of weather stripping to insure a tight seal or gap under the door. Secure crawl space doors. Place screens on attic and crawl space vents.
Move it! Transfer woodpiles and other good roach hiding places away from the home.
Poison them! Apply granular roach bait to flowerbeds and mulch. Use a liquid insecticide as a barrier around the perimeter of your home to prevent roaches from congregating around the home.
Clean it! Cockroaches in general prefer dirty, unsanitary conditions, which provide them with free food. Take away the buffet by cleaning high traffic areas, like the kitchen, extremely well. After dinner, tidy up all exposed food scraps on the floors and counters. Sanitize appliances, chairs, counters, and floors. Run the vacuum around places cockroaches like to hang out like carpets, furniture, curtains, and cupboards to get rid of eggs and fecal material.
Dry it! Cockroaches need moisture to thrive. Since sand cockroaches absorb water through the air, the best way to keep things arid is to run a dehumidifier on low if the weather is not humid and run it on high when rain is falling. As with any species of cockroach, it is best to keep pet bowls empty when pets are not drinking, mop up condensation underneath the refrigerator, wipe up water left in sinks and dishwashers, and fix any problematic plumbing leaks that could be providing free water to cockroaches invading your home.
Sprinkle on some powder! A fine powder made from diatomaceous earth is not harmful to humans, but acts as an effective poison against cockroaches and other insects when kept dry. Sprinkle it in high traffic infestation locations around the home.
Set traps! Sticky type traps containing poison will stop sand cockroaches in their creepy tracks by fixing them to the traps surface where they will absorb the poison contained in the surface material. You can also make a homemade trap with a jar, some beer, Vaseline, and a stick. Fill the jar about an inch full of beer. Apply Vaseline to the top inner edge of the jar. Place a stick leading from the surface (counter top or floor) to the lip of the jar. Watch the roaches climb up the sticks, dive into the beer, and drown to death.