Sand cockroaches, also called Desert cockroaches, are members of the cockroach family Polyphagidae. Many of these roaches belong to the genus Arenivaga. This name comes from the Latin words for Sand and Wander.
There are many species of these roaches. They are found in many dry countries of the world. In the United States, they are in the dry or desert-like areas of several states.
Some of the desert cockroaches are able to get water from the plant roots that they eat underground. Other desert cockroaches are able to extract water from the atmosphere around them.
Sand cockroaches are not considered pests. An occasional male flies into a house because it is attracted to the light. However, these roaches do not reproduce inside homes. They have not been reported to carry disease, and they are not known to be a health threat to people.
The Desert sand cockroach, Arenivaga erratica, is found in New Mexico and Arizona. The males are tan-to-brown insects. They have long wings and they are good fliers.
The female desert sand roaches have darker and rounder bodies. They do not have wings, so they cannot fly like the males do. The females burrow into the sand. They move up or down in the sand during the day as the temperature changes.
The Arenivaga bolliana (Sausure) is the Boll’s Sand Cockroach. It is found in parts of Texas. The Arenivaga floridensis lives in the sand ridges and scrubland of Florida.
Another of these cockroaches, Arenivaga investigata, has been reported in Colorado. The species Arenivaga genitalis has been reported in Arizona.
Homeowners can ensure that cockroaches do not invade by closing entryways. Exterior doors should close tightly. If necessary, weather-stripping should be added to eliminate a gap under the door. Access doors to crawl spaces should be secure. There should be screens on attic and crawl space vents.
Hiding places, like woodpiles, should be moved away from the house. Granular roach bait can be applied in flowerbeds. A barrier of liquid insecticide can help prevent outdoor cockroaches from gathering near the home.
Because sun and rain break insecticide down, the barrier will have to be re-applied periodically. Many homeowners prefer to have a pest control professional make these applications to keep outdoor roaches away from their homes.