A New Cockroach Species Is Spreading Through the Suburbs of the North East.
The Mediterranean Spotted Cockroach or Tawny Cockroach from Europe is taking up residency in the suburbs of Long Island. Scientifically named Ectobius pallidus, it was first seen in the U.S. in 1948 in Falmouth, Massachusetts and it stayed put on Cape Cod until four or five years ago. Then, something about the lifestyle of the Mediterranean Spotted Cockroach changed. It hit the road and started turning up in new places on the east coast as far south as Virginia and west to Michigan – but almost exclusively in the suburbs. Unlike the German cockroach, its city-infesting relative, the Mediterranean cockroach tolerates cold weather and can overwinter and reproduce outdoors. (Roth 1957) Cockroaches are famous for their genetic adaptability to changing environments. Some city roaches have become so tolerant of insecticides that they can eat them for breakfast. (Collins 2009)
Why is it of interest?
The Mediterranean spotted cockroach is also capable of living inside homes and becoming a pantry pest. So far, few high-level infestations of domiciles by the insect have been reported but are possible. CBS said the beasties overran an apartment building in 2019. (CBS 2019) There may be other examples of indoor invasions, but they have likely gone unreported, lacking the insect’s identity. Professional exterminators know the difference between the German cockroach and its Mediterranean cousin. In the town of Islip the time has come to learn the differences between German and Mediterranean cockroaches to accurately asses the risk for home invasion.
How to identify a Mediterranean Spotted Cockroach
Adult Mediterranean Spotted Cockroaches are about twenty percent smaller than their city-dwelling cousins. Their color is light-tan (another common name for the insect is the Tawny Cockroach), with their backs peppered with tiny black dots. The city-living German species has two black lines on its back. Additionally, the Mediterranean species fly well and are attracted to lights. They usually enter homes through unscreened doors and windows at night. (Smiley 1991)
A Mediterranean Spotted Cockroach adult female is showing the identifying pattern on its wings.
An immature Mediterranean Spotted Cockroach (young) larval stage which lacks wings.
How to footnote this page: Reiser, Frank W. (2022, October) Mediterranean Spotted Cockroach – Invasive Species In the U. S., Searching an Invisible World for Its Tiniest Things. https://antiqueslides.net/mediterranean-cockroach
CBS News (2019) Residents Complain About Filth in Concord Apartment. March 19, 2019. Available at: cbsnews.com/sanfrancisco/news/residents-complain-about-cockroaches-filth-at-concord-apartment/
(The CBS report is suspicious as it is far outside the Mediterranean cocker roach’s reported range)
Collins, W. J. (2009) Resistance in Blattella germanica the effect of propoxur selection and non-selection on the resistance spectrum developed by diazinon selection. Published online by Cambridge University Press: July 10.
Roth, Louis M., and Edwin R. Willis, (1957) Observations on the Biology of Ectobious pallidus. Transactions of the American Entomological Society, pp 31-37. Stable link at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/25077738
Smiley, R. L., and MA Roach (1991) Insects and Mite Pests in Food, an Illustrated Key. USDA Agriculture handbook (available at) https://www.agriculture.gov.au/sites/default/files/sitecollectiondocuments/ba/memos/1999/plant/TWGP_1.doc