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Desert Diary



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How can the cockroach survive so well? Cockroaches have been on earth long before the dinosaurs and they have adapted to survive in almost any location, including our Chihuahuan Desert. Of the approximately 4,000 species, only about 550 live in the United States.

One scientist examined the gut of one cockroach and found bits of "boiled potatoes, cereal, chocolate, honey, butter, Vaseline, bread flour, sugar, feather, wool, shoe polish, book bindings and even dead and diseased cockroaches." It is reported that they like beer, and if you leave a beer soaked paper towel out overnight, they can be found drunk and squashable the next morning. They can live up to 3 months without food and 1 month without water. They can survive freezing for 2 days and higher radiation doses than humans.

One reason it is so difficult to swat a cockroach is because there are many, fine sensory hairs all over its body. Any movement in the air around it, sends pen and inkthe cockroach scampering.

Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Elaine Hampton, Associate Professor, Department of Teacher Education, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.




Hanson, J.K., and D. Morrison. 1991. Of Kinkajous, Capybaras, Horned Beetles, Seladangs and the Oddest and Most Wonderful Mammals, Insects, Birds and Plants of Our World. HarperCollins, New York.

Web Resources

Roach World.