December 1, 2008

Scientists warn of exotic roaches

Florida scientists have warned that exotic roaches purchased on the Internet to feed pet lizards could lead to the non-native species infesting U.S. homes.

University of Florida entomologists said insects including the Madagascar hissing roach, a 3-inch-long horned roach that hisses like a snake, could gain a foothold in Florida homes if specimens purchased via the Internet as pet food escape and mate, The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times reported Monday.

It's not that they're any harder to kill than any other cockroach, entomologist Roberto Pereira said. But that doesn't mean you want your wife seeing one of them crawling around the house.

Pereira said he and fellow University of Florida entomologist Phil Koehler authored an article for Florida Pest Pro magazine warning exterminators to keep watch for the Madagascar hissing roaches as well as other non-native species including the lobster roach, the orange-spotted roach and the Turkistan roach.

The scientists said that while the roaches do not pose any dangers to humans or their pets, the introduction of exotic species can be dangerous for native varieties of insect and pose a threat to the ecosystem.