Usually when winter crawls into the hearts and apartments of city dwellers, there’s at least the sweet relief from knowing that cockroaches simply hate the cold. But there’s a new kind of critter, recently arrived on our shores, that doesn’t scurry away from the cold: A hardy species of cockroach that was first discovered in New York City’s High Line park.
No one has seen the species Periplaneta japonica in the United States before, at least there’s no documentation of such a sighting, reports the Associated Press. It’s not an unusual bug for Asia, but this would appear to be the first time the critters moved into America.
Scientists think perhaps the bugs stowed away in ornamental plants shipped from Asia to the U.S. for the High Line, which is a park/public space on a stretch of elevated train tracks along Manhattan’s west side.
For those worried about the implications of a bug that thrives in the warmth as well as the cold, there’s probably nothing to worry about, say researchers who published the news about the newcomer in the Journal of Economic Entomology.
“Because this species is very similar to cockroach species that already exist in the urban environment,” said one insect biologist, “they likely will compete with each other for space and for food.”
Fighting over food will likely keep the population low because when cockroaches are duking it out at mealtime they’re too tired to get busy in the cockroach bedroom later and make babies.
But the situation is something to monitor, points out another bug expert, a professor of urban entomology at Purdue University.
“To be truly invasive, a species has to move in and take over and out-compete a native species,” he said. “There’s no evidence of that, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned about it.”
You know what this means? We’ve actually got to root for the cockroaches we already have to fight off these newcomers. Team Normal Cockroaches it is.
A High Line spokesperson told Consumerist:
We spotted species Periplaneta japonica last year and, as with all insects and other creatures that inhabit the space, have been monitoring any impact. Fortunately, we do not believe this insect is having a negative impact on the park.
The study speculated the source of the insect’s arrival, but we understand it did not check other parks, natural spaces and buildings nearby – so it’s truly anyone’s guess! We source our plants through plant nurseries located mostly in the northeastern U.S., which go through routine USDA inspections to identify harmful pest/disease issues. No issue was raised with us.
Our team of experts will continue to keep an eye on it.
Invasive cockroach found in NYC can take the cold [Associated Press]