The bug, buzzing and trapped on its back, caught my eye just as I was about to turn out the living room light. I didn’t recognize the inch-long insect, but it looked suspiciously like a cockroach. I was baffled; we don’t have roaches (or at least not many) in Santa Fe.
Dave and I relocate spiders and stinkbugs outside, if possible, but since I wanted to know more about this one I picked it up with a tissue and put it in a baggie in the freezer. Ollie, a local bug collector, had told me this trick to preserve a specimen–at the time, I hoped I would never have occasion to use it.
A few months ago when I was writing about cockroaches I called an exterminator to answer my questions, but since I wanted help identifying this bug I decided to pay a visit to the Harrell House of Natural Oddities in the DeVargas Mall. The shop is filled with dinosaur models, butterfly t-shirts, and mounted spiders. In back is a bug museum.
Last week when Dave and I had a few errands at the mall, I took the roach out of the freezer and found it in perfect condition. We stopped in the Harrell House and talked to Thomas, a high school student. Fascinated with the blue-tongued skink in a glass case behind the counter, it was a while before we got around to showing Thomas the bug, but he didn’t know what kind of cockroach it was either. I gave him the bug (and told him I didn’t want it back) along with a note for Wade, the shop’s owner.
By the time we got home, Wade had left a message identifying the creature as a Pennsylvania wood cockroach, not native to the West. We decided it must have hitchhiked to Santa Fe, but on what? Wade mentioned landscaping mulch, but I suspected a book that I had just received in the mail from a used bookstore, until I realized it came from Nevada.
I was still thinking about it a couple of days later when this pile of latillas (fenceposts) on our back patio caught my eye. Dave and I had recently purchased them from a local company and loaded them into our Explorer–they had come from Arkansas. .
I think that solves the mystery and I am happy to report that we haven’t seen any more cockroaches, outside or inside.