New York City cockroach can survive frigid winters -study

A male (left) and female of the cockroach species Periplaneta japonica found on New York City's High Line in 2012. REUTERS/Handout via Lyle Buss, University of Florida

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A species of cockroach native to Asia that has been seen crawling around an outdoor tourist destination in New York City can survive the city's often brutal winters, according to a new study.

Researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey have identified the resilient pest as Periplaneta japonica, which is native to Japan. Until an exterminator saw the bug last year crawling around the High Line, an elevated, outdoor park in lower Manhattan, it had not been confirmed in the United States.

While it was too soon to predict the implications for nearby residents and businesses, the bug's appearance could be good news, researchers said.

"(Cockroaches) combined numbers inside buildings could actually fall because (the) more time and energy they spent competing (for food and space) means less time and energy to devote to reproduction," said Rutgers biologist Dominic Evangelista, who helped identify the species by analyzing its DNA barcode.

How the bugs got to New York was unclear, but researchers speculated they were in the soil of one of the plants festooning the park.

Researchers noted the new roach cannot breed a hybrid super-roach by mating with the more common local variety due to mismatching genitalia.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)