The Periplaneta Japonica, also known as the Japanese cockroach, is invading New York City. Although the resilient roaches are common in Asia, they were never seen in the United States. Scientists believe the large cockroaches traveled to the US in boxed plants.
The invasive bugs were first spotted at the High Line Park in 2012. An exterminator identified the roach and brought it to the attention of entomologists. Rutgers University insect biologist Jessica Ware said unusual species are common in nurseries, as they often feature imported plants.
As reported by CBS News, the species is incredibly resilient, often surviving freezing temperatures without any shelter. Ware said that the Periplaneta japonica could easily adapt to New York’s climate:
“… it does very well in cold climates, so it is very conceivable that it could live outdoors during winter in New York… I could imagine japonica being outside and walking around… “
Although the roaches are likely to adapt to the weather, scientists are not convinced that they will become a truly invasive species. Urban entomology Professor Michael Scharf said to be classified as invasive, a species must completely replace a native species.
Scharf said it is unlikely but not impossible. He suggests keeping a record of the species’ presence in the city and monitoring any population growth.
The Periplaneta japonica have a general life expectancy of one to two years. The adults are shiny black or black and brown. They can grow to more than an inch long. The cockroaches are quite unique, as they can survive sub-freezing temperatures. According to CarnivoraForum, the roaches usually live outside, but they have been known to move inside buildings and homes.
The cockroach species is originally from Japan. However, populations were also discovered in China Korea, and Russia. The species has now been identified in a New York City park.
Scientists do not believe the roaches will be able to mate with native species, as their genitalia are different. However, they are unsure how much the current population of Periplaneta japonica will increase.
[Image via Wikimedia]