Australian Wildlife

  Koch's Sandgroper (Cylindraustralia kochii)

Koch's Sandgroper | Cylindraustralia kochii photo
Sandgroper at Western Australian Museum

Image by GlenDillon - Some rights reserved.    (view image details)


The Sandgroper is an unusual insect, related to grasshoppers, that spends most of its life underground. Their bodies are long and cylindrical and well adapted to burrowing with short powerful flattened front legs for digging. They are wingless and have small simple eyes. The rear two pairs of legs are near the middle of the body and are small and can be tucked in close to the sides of the body. They burrow by parting the soil in front of them with their strong front legs and compressing it against the sides to form a tunnel. Nymphs and adults produce an unpleasant smelling secretion from a pair of glands on the abdomen. Adult sandgropers are brown with lighter bands on the abdomen. Nymphs are a paler creamy colour.

length about 50mm

They prefer sandy soil where they can burrow easily. Adult and nymph sandgropers create galleries in moist soil by digging through and compressing the soil with their strong front legs. They burrow to depths of up to 1.9m. After rain they often burrow close to the surface forming raised trails.

Sandgropers are omnivorous, and feed on roots, stems, leaves, flowers, seeds, fungi and invertebrates. They are reputed to be an agricultural pest, responsible for crop and pasture loss in some parts such as the wheat belt of Western Australia.

The Sandgroper lays eggs in an underground chamber about 40cm to 190cm deep in moist soil. The eggs are suspended singly from the roof of the chamber. Eggs are laid from autumn to spring and hatch in summer. The eggs hatch into nymphs which resemble small adults, and go through several stages (instars) before reaching maturity. The complete life cycle from egg to adult may take several years.

Koch's Sandgroper is found in Western Australia

Common Name:Koch's Sandgroper