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Cold weather-loving cockroach discovered in U.S.

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

Lyle Buss, University of Florida

Photo 1: Japanese cockroach, male (left) and female (right)
Earlier this month, the Japanese cockroach, Periplaneta japonica, was confirmed for
the first time in the U.S. in New York City. This cockroach is originally from Japan and other parts of Asia.  Although it is not known how this cockroach arrived in the U.S., it is possible that it may have been transported in the soil of ornamental plants.  

This cockroach is fairly large, growing up to 1 3/8th inch long.  It is generally brownish black to black in color.  The male has wings which just extend past the end of its abdomen while the wings of the female cover only about half of its body.  The Japanese cockroach is closely related to the American cockroach, P. americana, a long time pest of the U.S.

The Japanese cockroach can live inside buildings like other pest cockroaches.  What is unusual about this species is that it is tolerant of cold weather; they have been observed outdoors in below freezing temperatures and on snow.  The pest cockroaches that live in the U.S. generally remain indoors in the northern U.S. and are normally not seen outdoors.

What does this mean for the U.S. and Minnesota?  It is not clear how well the Japanese cockroach can spread in here; it has similar habits to other structure-infesting cockroaches and it will probably be challenging for it to become too abundant as it competes for favorable harborages and food.  However, it would not be unexpected for New Yorkers to see this species occasionally outdoors this winter.  Like other cockroaches, the Japanese cockroach is a good hitchhiker so it is possible that it could one day be found in Minnesota.

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