Back in 1978, an invasive cockroach species was discovered at the Sharpe army depot in California. This species is known as the Turkestan cockroach, and since its discovery in the US in 1978, these cockroaches have been slowly displacing oriental cockroach populations in the southwest. Lately, Turkestan cockroach populations have been growing at an unprecedented rate within the southwest US, and many people are blaming the internet.
The Turkestan cockroach is often purchased online by people who keep a pet snake, as this cockroach species has become popular as a go-to form of food for pet snakes. The rapid spread of the Turkestan cockroach has been blamed on people who buy the insects online, as it is widely believed that the high Turkestan roach population in the southwest is due to specimens being sent to the region through the mail by snake food vendors. However, this is not the reason for the cockroaches’ spread across the southwest; instead, researchers with the University of California in Riverside believe that frequent military campaigns in the middle east and Asia have brought this cockroach species to the United States. This scenario seems likely considering that the first specimen found in the US was taken from a military base. After this initial discovery, more Turkestan roaches were discovered at other military bases, such as Ft. Bliss in El Paso. Since then, this cockroach has spread rapidly, displacing established populations of oriental cockroaches. Entomologist Michael K. Rust claims that the Turkestan cockroach is outcompeting oriental cockroaches within their own habitat. But the primary factor behind this cockroaches’ spread is its ability to reproduce at rapid rates. However, Rust claimed to be surprised upon finding that Turkestan roaches are widely available for purchase online, and he believes that the sale of these cockroaches could accelerate their spread if the specimens are not handled correctly. These cockroaches are common pests in homes and buildings in the southwest US.
Have you ever heard of a Turkestan cockroach?