Asian Super-Cockroach Crawls out of New York City

 | Thu 19 Dec 2013 12:10 ICT

CityNews – The Journal of Economic Entomology recently published findings of a cold-resistant species of cockroach present in New York, which have never before been confirmed outside of Asia.

Fried roaches in Thailand.

The species, Periplaneta japonica, also known as the Japanese cockroach, is native to Japan and is well-adapted to cold climates, which is unusual behaviour for common warmth-loving cockroaches. They have survived in labratory experiments in environments between -5 °C and -8 °C, as well as recovering back to full health from being buried in ice. They also have the unique ability to walk, scurry and scuttle on ice, which most cockroach species are unable to do.

The Japanese cockroaches have previously spread to China, Korea and parts of Russia, and were found for the first time in the United States in 2012. The lucky discoverer was an exterminator, who saw the creatures under plantings in a Manhattan Park, and realised they had survived there over the winter. He then sent some carcasses to the University of Florida, whose scientists confirmed their identity, and guessed they might have been brought to the park in the soil of imported Japanese plants.

The newcomers to the bustling roach scene in New York will have to compete against the predominant populations of American, German and other Oriental cockroaches. Scientists aren’t concerned that the Japanese cockroach will become an invasive species, as there is little to no chance that they could wipe out an entire native species.

It does mean that the Japanese cockroach will soon become a new member of creepy-crawlies across the whole continent, as cockroaches are generally known to be excellent “hitch-hikers”.

Cockroaches’ preferred dwellings are people’s houses, where they can enjoy your food, munch through walls, books and other items, spread germs to you and your family, and occasionally get a chance to explore your body in your sleep (sorry, but it’s true). Suggestions for people who are not eager to accommodate cockroaches in their homes are:

1. Sweep and/or vacuum regularly.

2. Keep food containers sealed and don’t leave food out in the open, especially remnants on dirty dishes.

3. Empty trash regularly, and keep trash away from the inside of your home.

4. Cockroaches are attracted to water, which can be a problem in Thailand where the bathroom floors are often wet for long periods of time. Other than keeping them dry, don’t let taps drip or water stagnate anywhere in the home.

5. Seal cracks along walls or floors – this might be time-consuming, but pays off in the end, as cockroaches love exploring little nooks and crannies.

6. If you are desperate or not squeamish about murdering ugly roaches, then there are plenty of ways to facilitate their untimely demise (by the way, roaches live for up to two years). The best method by far is to use an exterior insect spray meant for the garden or for bigger bug-killing jobs. Spray that heavily inside your home with all the doors and windows shut, but remember to hold your breath and leave immediately, staying away for a day or more. When you return, you need to air out the entire home to avoid being poisoned. Consult the packaging of your product, or just use an indoor bug spray instead, even though it’s less effective and takes much longer.