Winter-Hardy Cockroach Species Found in NYC

During the cold winter months, insect activity usually slows down in Monmouth County and Ocean County, New Jersey. Insects are still present, of course; but cold weather seems to turn many insects sluggish and sends some species, like stink bugs and Asian lady beetles, into a hibernation-like state. Insect activity gears back up in the spring; but winter offers New Jersey residents a welcome, if brief, respite from the buzzing, droning, biting and stinging these pests can inflict.

So the discovery of a winter-hardy species of cockroach living in Manhattan’s High Line Park was not good news. Never before seen in the U.S., Periplaneta japonica is a Japanese migrant common to the chilly steppes and mountain of Japan and northern Asia. Slightly smaller than the half-inch-long German cockroach, the most common cockroach species in the U.S., the Japanese roach was discovered by an exterminator in 2012 during routine pest control procedures and subsequently identified by Rutgers University entomologists. The presence of the new roach species only recently made the news when Rutgers’ findings were published in the Journal of Economic Entomology. Entomologists believe the Japanese roach may have arrived in the soil of imported plants used to landscape the park.

Unlike American cockroaches, the new Japanese roach can survive outdoors in below-freezing temperatures and can walk on ice and snow. Scientists say the new species cannot cross-breed with native species and don’t believe the new species poses any immediate threat, but give it time. Cockroaches are one of the oldest and most adaptable insect species on the planet. In time, cockroach extermination NJ could become as necessary in the winter as it is in the summer.