Last year, an exterminator working on Manhattan's High Line noticed an unusual looking cockroach. Two Rutgers scientists—Jessica Ware and Dominic Evangelista—investigated the insect, quickly identifying them as a cold-resistant species common in Asia but previously unconfirmed in the United States.
Not that there's any reason to panic... yet.
"Because this species is very similar to cockroach species that already exist in the urban environment," Evangelista told the Associated Press, "they likely will compete with each other for space and for food."
And there's little chance the new species will mate with indigenous cockroaches.
"The male and female genitalia fit together like a lock and key, and that differs by species," Evangelista said. "So we assume that one won't fit the other."
But still, there's a chance! And Michael Scharf, an urban entomologist at Purdue, said the winged hell bugs were worth worrying over.
"To be truly invasive, a species has to move in and take over and out-compete a native species," he said. "There's no evidence of that, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be concerned about it."
How did this superbug reach New York City? Through the tourist trap the High Line, that's how. From the AP:
The scientists suspect the little critter was likely a stowaway in the soil of ornamental plants used to adorn the park. "Many nurseries in the United States have some native plants and some imported plants," Ware said. "It's not a far stretch to picture that that is the source."
The new bug has at least one advantage over regular New York cockroaches: It can survive outside in the winter. "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," Ware said. "I could imagine japonica being outside and walking around, though I don't know how well it would do in dirty New York snow."
Our dirty snow is our only chance at survival.
[Image via AP]