High Line Horticulturist: ‘Anyone’s Guess’ How Foreign Roaches Arrived
BY SAM SPOKONY | ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED DEC. 9, 2013 | The organization that oversees the High Line says it’s not sure how a rare breed of cockroach — which has never before been spotted in the U.S. — ended up inside the popular elevated park.
It was reported today 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 beastly bug 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,” said Friends of the High Line Director of Horticulture Thomas Smarr, in a December 9 email to Chelsea Now. “Fortunately, we do not believe this insect is having a negative impact on the park.”
Previous reports guessed that the bug might have come to the High Line through foreign soil imports — but Smarr characterized that scenario as, at best, 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,” said Smarr. “We source our plants through plant nurseries located mostly in the northeastern U.S., which go through routine USDA inspections to identify harmful pest/disease issues. No issue was raised with us.”
And although the japonica roaches haven’t yet caused any noticeable problems around the area, the High Line crew asserts it will be ready to act if the need arises.
“Our team of experts will continue to keep an eye on it,” said Smarr.