High Line crew unsure how foreign roaches got into park

BY SAM SPOKONY  |  The organization that oversees the High Line said on Monday that it’s not sure how a rare breed of cockroach — which has never before been spotted in the U.S. — ended up in the popular elevated park.

On Monday it was reported that Periplaneta japonica, a species of roach that can apparently survive New York’s cold winter weather, was first seen on the High Line by an exterminator in 2012. The Periplaneta japonica can reportedly survive subfreezing weather, and is unique among roaches in its ability to walk on ice.

The beastly bug — also known as the Japanese cockroach and the Yamato cockroach — has entered the news because of a recent scientific article in the Journal of Economic Entomology, which confirmed that this was the roach’s first sighting on American soil.

“We spotted species Periplaneta japonica last year and, as with all insects and other creatures that inhabit the space, have been monitoring any impact,” a High Line spokesperson said. “Fortunately, we do not believe this insect is having a negative impact on the park.”

Previous reports speculated that the bug might have come to the High Line through foreign soil imports, but the park’s operating body implied that that assumption is, at best, very unlikely.

“The [scientific] study speculated the source of the insect’s arrival, but we understand it did not check other parks, natural spaces and buildings nearby — so it’s truly anyone’s guess!” the High Line spokesperson said. “We source our plants through plant nurseries located mostly in the northeastern U.S., which go through routine U.S.D.A. inspections to identify harmful pest/disease issues. No issue was raised with us.”

Although the japonica roaches haven’t yet caused any noticeable problems around the area, the High Line crew will apparently be ready to act if the need arises.

“Our team of experts will continue to keep an eye on it,” the spokesperson said.

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