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Japanese Cockroach Found In New York Thrives In Harsh Winter Climate

Japanese cockroach identified in New York City weathers the winter cold.

  • Japanese cockroach first identified in New York City in 2012

  • The Japanese cockroach can withstand temperatures of 17.6

Japanese cockroach, Periplaneta japonica

Japanese cockroach, Periplaneta japonica
Image by Lyle Buss, Univ. of Florida

As winter sets in, many seek shelter from the cold.  Not true for a species Japanese cockroach found in New York City, it apparently loves the winter weather.  The Japanese cockroach, or Periplaneta japonica, was identified in 2012 by an exterminator working in a park in Manhattan.

After collecting a sample and sending it off to the University of Florida, whose Entomology and Nematology department strives, “to be a world leader in entomology and nematology by conducting superior research, extending knowledge to improve agriculture, the environment, and human health and well-being.” They in turn contacted the Smithsonian who brought in Rutgers University biologists Dominic Evangelista and Jessica Ware.

It was confirmed that the specimen was Periplaneta japonica, or a Japanese cockroach.  “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.  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,” states Jessica Ware.

The nymphs have been observed to hibernate over winter in weather that reaches -5 to -8 degrees Celsius, and recover from being buried in ice.  The Japanese cockroach also possesses the ability to walk on ice.

The Japanese cockroach measure approximately 25 to 35 millimeters as adults.  Their body is uniformly blackish brown, and the male’s wings extend slightly beyond the body.

Although this species is primarily found outdoors, they can adapt to live indoors, in houses, buildings, and unfortunately where food is prepared or served.  It is expected that the Japanese cockroach will compete with other species already found in the environment for food and space; however the impact it will have is still unknown.

About Katana Sohma