31January

Bell Environmental Discovered a Foreign Species of Cockroaches in New York City

  • Posted By: Glenn Waldorf 2
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The Yamato cockroach (Periplaneta japonica), a species indigenous to Japan, China and southeast Russia, is an insect that lives outdoors and survives in cool-temperate regions. When this roach was revealed to be living and thriving in an outdoor public garden in New York City in the first documented report of this cockroach species establishing itself in the United States, it made national news and of course got huge attention from the New York media

When we say huge, we mean HUUUUUGGGEEEE (in our best Trump accent), with reports and articles from NBC 4Channel 11Newsday1010 WINS and WCBS-2 News, New York Magazine, AM New York, and NY Metro, among others.

This was big news- and we’re proud to say that Bell Environmental was the source of this discovery. In spring 2012 Bell Environmental found this insect thriving in an outdoor public garden in New York City. It was the first documented report of this cockroach species establishing itself in the United States.

How did Bell Environmental discover this roach? We’re pleased to point you to New York Magazine’s full account of our discovery in an article addressing the presence and prevalence of cockroaches in New York City that was published a few weeks after the breaking news story.

Here’s the story: One of our pest control technicians was servicing exterior rodent bait stations installed in an elevated garden/walking park in New York City. The New York  P. japonica population appeared to seek refuge and shelter in and under manmade objects as well as amongst the 100,000  ornamental plants. Large pockets of Yamato cockroaches were found under removable boardwalk sections in the garden’s walking paths as well as inside rodent bait stations and irrigation water valve boxes. Several specimens (adults and nymphs) were collected and examined by three local entomologists who were uncertain of their taxonomy. The samples were then sent to the University of Florida for identification. DNA barcoding was performed at Rutgers University with the determination that the specimens submitted were believed to be Periplaneta japonica. The full tale of the universities’ efforts to identify this insect can be found here along with the Rutgers entomologists’ discussion of this recent invasion in light of the known life history traits of this species, and their specific predictions for its impact in the urban northeastern United States.

New York City shares the same geographical latitude with Japan (40 degrees N) which may help to answer how this insect is able to survive the New York winters. The freeze tolerant capabilities of this cockroach appear to be similar to that of another exterior living cockroach commonly found in the northeastern United States, the Pennsylvania woods roach (Parcoblatta pennsylvanica).

The article is worth a read for an additional reason – it explains the knowledge and skill Bell Environmental has and the efforts we go to in order to solve the toughest pest problems.

Bell Environmental has remained vigilant at this and other New York City accounts, as the damage to an ecosystem from invasive species is real. As New York Magazine summed up:

There has been enough trouble with invasive species in the past few years—the Asian longhorn beetle has required the destruction of thousands of trees in New York, and millions of dollars have been spent (so far successfully) trying to keep it out of Manhattan and away from Central Park. Though it may not be quite as destructive as that barkeating beetle, P. japonica is able to colonize new spaces that others can’t because of its cold resistance.

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