Last year, workers in New York City's High Line park found some unusual-looking cockroaches they'd never seen before. And now, two biologists have identified the bugs as a species from Japan, pictured here (male on the left, female on the right) which can survive in icy weather that kills typical American roaches. New York may become roachtown all year long.
According to NBC News:
Rutgers University insect biologists Jessica Ware and Dominic Evangelista said the species Periplaneta japonica is well documented in Asia but was never confirmed in the United States — until now. The newcomer was first spotted in New York in 2012, by an exterminator working on the High Line. The scientists suspect the little critter was likely a stowaway in the soil of ornamental plants used to adorn the park. "Many nurseries in the United States have some native plants and some imported plants," Ware said. "It's not a far stretch to picture that that is the source."
The Japanese roaches thrive in sub-zero weather, and are known to "ice skate" on frozen water. Will they take hold in New York, or are these sightings just flukes? Ware and Evangelista said that the invaders would get a lot of competition from local roaches, and might not be able to out-compete them. That said, these new roaches will be the only game in town during the winter. So they will have unfettered access to food during that time, and over time might begin to edge out the locals.
In case you're worried about these ice-loving roaches breeding with New York natives, that's not likely to happen. Evangelista told NBC, "The male and female genitalia fit together like a lock and key, and that differs by species. So we assume that one won't fit the other."
Read Ware and Evangelista's paper on New York's new cockroach population in the Journal of Economic Entomology