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New cockroach in New York: Periplaneta japonica prepared to face New York winter

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A new cockroach in New York is making headlines. Periplaneta japonica, otherwise known as the Japanese cockroach, is a species that is making its unwelcome presence known in New York. Prior to 2012, these hardy creatures were documented in Asia but unconfirmed in the United States.

That all changed when an exterminator working on the High Line discovered the roaches scurrying outdoors in the dead of winter. The disgusting critters reportedly have the ability to survive in the freezing cold, making them well-suited to survive a New York winter, even outdoors, Huffington Post reported on Dec. 8, 2013.

Experts believe that the Japanese cockroach entered New York City via the soil of imported ornamental plants used to adorn the park. Reports are referring to the Periplaneta Japonica as "winter-proof, freeze-proof and invasive."Although they may have the ability to survive outdoors during the freezing New York winter, the Japanese cockroach is not an invasive species, strictly speaking.

To qualify as an invasive species, the Japanese cockroach would have to overwhelm the native cockroach population, and there's no indication that this has happened, at least not yet. The new cockroach in town is not an invasive species, contrary to some reports otherwise.

If there's anything resembling good news about the Periplaneta japonica problem in New York, it's this. The Japanese cockroach is unable to mate with the local cockroach population to create a hybrid roach.

Dominic Evangelista, a Rutgers University insect biologist, explained, "The male and female genitalia fit together like a lock and key, and that differs by species." In addition, the similarity of the Japanese cockroach to species already in New York means that they will be competing for food and territory. For cockroaches, Evangelista said, "… time and energy spent competing means less time and energy to devote to reproduction." In theory, that should keep the Periplaneta japonica population in check.

According to a recent report, cockroaches and New Yorkers have a lot in common. That's no small comfort when facing an infestation but for more information about the similarities between cockroaches and New Yorkers, check out the video on the left side of the page. It doesn't matter if it's a new cockroach or the same old roaches, it's never complimentary to be compared to one of these creatures.

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