Speed Reads

Nature's Nightmares

Cockroach species returns to America after 49-million-year disappearance

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It seems like just yesterday that Periplaneta japonica invaded Manhattan, but the Northeast is now home to a new invasive cockroach species — one that's not actually "invasive" at all. Scientists have recently determined that four species of Ectobius, a cockroach found in Europe and Africa that recently appeared in the U.S., actually lived in North America 49 million years ago.

A study of 21 fossils at the Smithsonian Institution has revealed that the four species of Ectobius date back to the Eocene era. "It's amazing how one little discovery can change the entire understanding of the history of this particular lineage of cockroaches," said Conrad Labandeira, curator of fossil arthropods at the National Museum of Natural History.

Labandeira says Ectobius may have gone extinct in North America due to harsh conditions as glaciers moved south, perhaps causing the roaches to migrate to Europe. Luckily, though, America has proven hospitable to these fine creatures once again, and residents of Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire can now welcome these adorable animals back home.