Florida researchers say a hissing cockroach that grows as big as 5 inches inadvertently could be released in the state and, if so, would thrive.
The Madagascar hissing cockroach is one of four species of roach readily available on the Internet to lizard owners who purchase them illegally, said Phil Hoehler, an entomologist with the University of Florida.
Roaches are a good replacement for crickets as reptile food because they are less expensive and don't smell as bad as crickets, Hoehler told the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel in a story published Sunday.
The Turkestan cockroach, lobster roach and the orange spotted roach also are potential invaders, though they have yet to be spotted, Koehler warned pest-control operators in a recent magazine article.
"This is not good news for anybody," said Hoehler, noting where there are cockroaches, there will be escapees and Florida has the perfect climate for them.