As if we didn’t already have enough cockroaches in South Florida, there’s a new beast in town.
Last month, environmental scientist Marc Minno was rifling through stacks of paper on his office floor in Live Oak, north of Gainesville, when he spotted an interesting-looking bug. He wasn’t startled — he occasionally sees beetles and other insects in the building. But upon
“It was black and orange-red, with yellow along the margins of the wings,” he says. “It was actually pretty and very distinctive.”
From giant African land snails to Argentine tegu lizards and Brazilian pepper trees, species from all over the world find their way to Florida. Many of these species are invasive, threatening marine, freshwater, and land habitats. According to the Nature Conservancy, the cost of managing Florida’s invasive plants alone is estimated at $100 million each year.
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The pale-bordered field cockroach is an outdoor species, dwelling amid vegetation such as leaves and shrubs. There’s no indication thus far that the roach could cause serious harm in South Florida. Yet
“Someone needs to identify if it can do harm,” he says. “What if it gets in someone’s corn fields and attacks the plants? What if it likes soybeans? Especially in Miami and Homestead, where we grow all that weird tropical stuff no one else has, then who knows if it could have some kind of economic impact.”
Though the roach was spotted in North Florida,