Researchers confirmed the identity of the species, which is native to Asia and known for its ability to prosper in cold climates, LiveScience.com reported Monday.
Researchers said the Periplaneta japonica hadn't been seen in the United States until an exterminator saw some odd-looking carcasses last year on the High Line, a park built on an old elevated railway.
"About 20 years ago colleagues of ours in Japan reared nymphs of this species and measured their tolerance to being able to survive in snow," Rutgers University insect biologist Jessica Ware said in a statement. "As the species has invaded Korea and China, there has been some confirmation that it does very well in cold climates, so it is very conceivable that it could live outdoors during winter in New York."
"That is in addition to its being well suited to live indoors alongside the species that already are here," she said.
Ware and her colleagues say it will be hard to trace the species' route to Manhattan, but researchers suspect it arrived in the soil of one of the plants along the High Line, which opened in 2009.
The researchers say it's too soon to tell what the species' impact will be, but they don't expect the cockroaches to be major nuisances, LiveScience.com said.
"Because this species is very similar to cockroach species that already exist in the urban environment, they likely will compete with each other for space and for food," Rutgers doctoral student Dominic Evangelista said.