The snow outside is not bothering new breed of roaches now found in New York

Photo credit: Lyle Buss, Univ. of Florida This male (left) and female of the species Periplaneta japonica were found on New York City's High Line in 2012.

Photo credit: Lyle Buss, Univ. of Florida
This male (left) and female of the species Periplaneta japonica were found on New York City’s High Line in 2012.

If you thought freezing temperatures could kill of roaches, think again. Rutgers-Newark biologists released a statement Monday confirming the presence of winter resistant cockroaches in New York City. This disturbing Asian species, Periplaneta japonica, was first discovered in the U.S. on the High Line by an exterminator in 2012, and recently studied by insect biologists Jessica Ware and Dominic Evangelista.

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,” says Ware, who is an assistant professor of biological sciences at Rutgers-Newark. “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.

The immigrant roaches investigated have been hanging out in Manhattan, but Ware notes that “they do very well as hitchhikers.” So how do you avoid new six-legged roommates? Pest expert Timothy Wong of M&M Pest Control recommends a strong defense.

“Currently, there’s very few insecticides EPA approved to treat them. The low temperature will have little to no effect on these new super roaches,” said Wong. “The best way to prevent them in homes is ‘exclusion’ or ‘proofing’.”

To combat this new breed of terror, seal up any potential entry points, especially around pipes and baseboards. These critters have a limited ability to fly, so proper window screens should also be used to shield them out.

Good news? The biologists at Rutgers-Newark believe the bugs will be focused on competing for space and food over reproduction. Here’s to hoping.

–Sarah Colgrove

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