NEW YORK (TheBlaze/AP) — As if New York City cockroaches weren't infamous enough, a hardier species, never before seen in the United States, that could withstand harsh winters has landed.
Rutgers University insect biologists Jessica Ware and Dominic Evangelista said the species Periplaneta japonica is well documented in Asia but was never confirmed in the United States until now. The scientists, whose findings were published in the Journal of Economic Entomology, said that it is too soon to predict the impact but that there is probably little cause for concern.
In this Jan. 9, 2013 photo provided by the University of Florida, the male Periplaneta japonica is shown. The new strain of cockroach that can withstand harsh winter cold. (AP/University of Florida)
"Because this species is very similar to cockroach species that already exist in the urban environment," Evangelista said, "they likely will compete with each other for space and for food."
That competition, Ware said, will likely keep the population low, "because more time and energy spent competing means less time and energy to devote to reproduction."
Dominic Evangelista and Jessica Ware describe the species new the the United States in Rutgers' insect lab. (Photo credit: Rob Forman)
Michael Scharf, a professor of urban entomology at Purdue University, said the discovery is something to monitor.
"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."
The newcomer was first spotted in New York in 2012 by an exterminator working on the High Line, a park that turned a dilapidated stretch of elevated railway on Manhattan's West Side into one of New York's newest tourist attractions.
The scientists suspect the little critter was likely a stowaway in the soil of ornamental plants used to adorn the park. "Many nurseries in the United States have some native plants and some imported plants," Ware said. "It's not a far stretch to picture that that is the source."
Although, it has never been found in the United States before, the hardy insect has invaded New York City. Scientists believe that it�s too early to speculate, but they believe there is probably little cause for concern. (AP/University of Florida)
Periplaneta japonica has special powers not seen in the local roach population; it can survive outdoors in the freezing cold.
"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," Ware said. "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 likelihood that the new species will mate with the locals to create a hybrid super-roach is slim.
"The male and female genitalia fit together like a lock and key, and that differs by species," Evangelista says. "So we assume that one won't fit the other."
Even if a super-bug isn't likely in our future, the researchers did say “they do very well as hitchhikers. So those in nearby areas could see the more resistant insect in the future.