The roach has been documented in Asia, but has never seen before in the U.S.
Unlike other roaches, which prefer to stay indoors and like warmer temperatures, the Periplaneta japonica has been found to withstand harsh winters including snow.
But Rutgers University insect biologists Jessica Ware and Dominic Evangelista, whose findings were published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, said there is probably little cause for concern for New Yorkers.
“Because this species is very similar to cockroach species that already exist in the urban environment,” said Evangelista, “they likely will compete with each other for space and for food.”
This intense competition would divert the roaches' focus from reproduction toward competing for space and food, thereby keeping their numbers low and in check. Additionally, interbreeding would be impossible, as the species' genitalia do not match.
The species was first sighted by an exterminator on the High Line, an elevated walkway and park on Manhattan's West Side. The roach looked different from what he was used to seeing so he sent it to the University of Florida's Lyle Buss, who then proceeded to contact the Smithsonian who got her in touch with Ware.
While it is not clear how the cockroach arrived in the U.S. Ware said it was likely that one of the ornamental plants that adorn the High Line could shave housed the roach. She also said that the chances of interbreeding and the creation of a hybrid breed is impossible as the male and female genitalia do not match.
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