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Dec 09, 2013 09:19 AM EST

Cold Enduring Asian Cockroach Spotted in US for the First Time

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An Asian cockroach that can withstand bitter cold has been discovered in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood.

Jessica Ware and Dominic Evangelista, Rutgers University insect biologists, said that this is the first time, Periplaneta japonica, has been spotted in the United States that is otherwise widely prominent in Asia.

"Because this species is very similar to cockroach species that already exist in the urban environment, they likely will compete with each other for space and for food," Evangelista said in a statement.

Ware said that due to the competition, the production will be minimum "because more time and energy spent competing means less time and energy to devote to reproduction."

The cockroach was first spotted in New York in 2012, by an exterminator working on the High Line. Since the appearance of these cockroaches looked different from the local ones, he sent the carcasses for analysis at the University of Florida.

The biologists claim that the little pest might have arrived along with the ornamental plants that adorn the High Lane.

"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 cockroach's ability to survive very low temperatures is one of its most prominent features.

"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."

Biologists said that mating between the new species and the locals is not likely to happen because their genitalia don't match.

 "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."

The findings have been published in the Journal of Economic Entomology.

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