Cold-tolerant super cockroach discovered in New York

They can survive radiation, can live without a head for a week but now a species of cockroach in New York can withstand freezing temperatures

Neela Debnath@NeelanjonaD
Tuesday 10 December 2013 14:09
The Periplaneta Japonica, which is native to Asia, has been discovered in New York
The Periplaneta Japonica, which is native to Asia, has been discovered in New York

A species of cockroach that can withstand freezing cold temperatures has been discovered in New York for the first time.

The Periplaneta Japonica, which is mainly found in Japan, can survive harsh winters unlike the species native to New York. Scientists at Rutgers University say that the breed has never been seen in America until now.

The creature was first spotted in Manhattan back in 2012 by a member of pest control who was working on the High Line, a disused part of the New York Railroad that has been turned into a park.

It is thought that the cockroach made it to the US as a stowaway in the soil of an ornamental plant used to decorate a park.

The Periplaneta Japonica can survive in sub-zero temperatures and is known to hibernate during the winter months.

The new discovery has been documented in the Journal of Economic Entomology which publishes findings on insect science.

However, New Yorkers should not be worried about a sudden infestation this Christmas because it is thought that competition for space and food with the native species will keep numbers down.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Jessica Ware, a biologist at Rutgers University said: "because more time and energy spent competing means less time and energy to devote to reproduction."

Ms Ware added: "I could imagine Japonica being outside and walking around, though I don't know how well it would do in dirty New York snow."

The complexity of male and female cockroach genitalia is another factor that may keep the population down. The differences between species means that it is unlikely that the Periplaneta Japonica will mate with the native New York breed.

"The male and female genitalia fit together like a lock and key, and that differs by species," says insect Biologist Dominic Evangelista, "so we assume that one won't fit the other."

Cockroaches are known for their resilience and ability to adapt, with some able to continue living without a head for a week while others can withstand radiation.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments