A Trip to the Harrell House

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.

Photo by P. Nixon

Photo by P. Nixon

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.

Photo By:  P. Nixon

Photo By: P. Nixon

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.

2 thoughts on “A Trip to the Harrell House

  1. We’d be happy to ship you some Dominican la cucarachas, if you’d like! Fortunately we don’t have many in our house, but they are abundant here. That was nice of you to humanely dispose of him via death by hypothermia.

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