Cold-Resistant Japanese Cockroaches Have Arrived In NYC


A new species of cockroach that is cool with the cold has arrived in New York City, and they are likely here to stay year-round.


The species is called the Japanese Cockroach (its scientific name is Periplaneta japonica). It's native to Japan but has spread throughout Asia. This is the first time it has been seen in the U.S. It was found on the High Line in 2012 by an exterminator, and scientists have just published confirmation of its identity as the Japanese Cockroach by DNA sequencing. It probably made its way there in the ornamental plants used in the park.

We don't know how big of an impact these roaches will have, but the researchers, who published their DNA analysis in the Journal Of Economic Entomology, say they are similar enough to the roaches we have now they their impact shouldn't be huge.

"To be truly invasive, a species has to move in and take over and out-compete a native species," Michael Scharf, a researcher at Purdue University, told The Associated Press. "There's no evidence of that, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be concerned about it."

The already-established cockroach populations in New York should keep these newcomers at bay. Their physical differences make it unlikely they would be able to interbreed and create hybrid super-roaches, the researchers said.


What sets it apart from local populations of cockroaches is its ability to withstand cold temperatures.

"It is very conceivable that it could live outdoors during winter in New York," study researcher Jessica Ware, of Rutgers University, said in a press release.

"I could imagine japonica being outside and walking around," Ware said. "Though I don't know how well it would do in dirty New York snow."

Normal American and German cockroaches we see here in NYC prefer temperatures in the 80s and can't survive the below-freezing temperatures outside during winter (which is why you find them inside).

Here's what the cockroaches look like:

New York Japanese cockroach invasion

Lyle Buss, Univ. of Florida

This male (left) and female of the species Periplaneta japonica were found on New York City's High Line iin 2012.