Sunday, July 19, 2009


First thing we noticed on the first night we moved in, is that the house is already occupied -- by hundreds of roaches! Not the kind I'm most familiar with, my friends from my PhD, the German roaches (though I probably would NOT consider them my friends if they came to visit), but brownbanded roaches. The pretty ones. I don't think they're pretty when they're in my kitchen (and, in fact, all over the house!). So we immediately declared a war, and filled our house with anti-roach WMDs.

What looks like shelters and tanks for roaches are actually COMBAT gel baits in roach motels and liquid baits (don't remember the brand), respectively. The white powder is a mix of flour, borax and sugar.

Boric acid goodies: The solution is based on one of Chad's papers, the "cookie" is a mix of the ingredients described above for the powder on the paper, with some water to make it stick. I don't think the roaches could eat it once it hardened.

We still see a few of them every now and then. I think we'll have to use the professional gel baits that Rick sent me.

A few days later, probably because of the potential for extra prey, we found a black widow dangling from inside the above-the-stove hood. [It looks like the perfect place for things to hide. I'm glad we're going to get rid of it soon.] She spun her webs directly onto our pots (which we kept on the stove, because we don't want to use any of the cabinets for the following two reasons: 1) there's no point in unpacking the kitchen boxes before we get our new kitchen installed; 2) there's too many roaches running around!) She didn't last very long... It wasn't easy to catch her in a jar, because of the position she assumed (though I did try to persuade her to get into a jar, baited with a roach -- it didn't work), so we just had to squish her -- well, Mark did it -- with a rolled piece of newspaper.

The black widow's hiding place. Nasty!

Another thing we noticed as soon as the sun went down on our first day in the house, was a hoard of beetles attacking every wall and window that happens to stand in their way. They looked familiar to me, and sure enough - they are Khumeini beetles (better known as Maladera matrida). It reminded me of my days in the dorms in Rehovot, when every summer the hallways and window sills were covered with beetles who did not make it in the fight against the hard surface... We don't see quite as much of them anymore - they were mostly abundant on our first few nights in Tucson.

One of the few we still see around - still banging into walls! One website described these beetles as a non-intelligently-designed specimen used as an example by non-creationists.

Here are a few more creatures we found and got to take pictures of:

A wiser black widow decided to build her web outside

A newly eclosed sphynx moth

Same moth, a few minutes later

Ha! Feels much better with some air in the wings!

Palo verde beetle -- one of the largest beetles in North America!

A cat, belongs to one of the neighbors, but spends a lot of time in our yard.

** I really shouldn't pretend I know all that much about insects... Turns out the scarab beetle I identified as
Maladera matrida does not really exist here in North America. Instead, there are apparently similar scarabs here that behave in a very similar way.


  1. Thank you for sharing the moth during different stages. That is very neat! Good luck getting rid of the unwanted critters.