Meet the New Cockroach Species That's Likely Headed for Miami

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 further inspection, he realized this was no beetle. It was a cockroach.

“It was black and orange-red, with yellow along the margins of the wings,” he says. “It was actually pretty and very distinctive.”

Minno did some online research and learned that he’d spotted a pale-bordered field cockroach (Pseudomops septentrionalis), normally found in Central America, the Caribbean, and Texas. He contacted the Florida State Collection of Arthropods (FSCA) in Gainesville, which confirmed the roach species had never before been seen in Florida. (However, Bugguide.net lists two previous reports in Florida, as well as dozens of other reported sightings in the Southeast.)

Minno then donated the bug to the FSCA.

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.

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 Minno says it’s important that we learn about the species to understand how it could affect the area’s ecology.

“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, Minno assumes it has made, or will make, its way south because of breeding patterns and prior sightings of the bug. If cockroaches aren’t your thing, rest assured: According to various sources, the pale-bordered field cockroach rarely enters homes.
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Jessica Weiss