If you suddenly turn on the light, do flying cockroaches fly under the refrigerator of the apartment above yours? New Yorkers are about to find out as reports are flying in and residents of the city that never sleeps are spreading the news that flying cockroaches are making it there and that means they’re going to make it anywhere. Run for your lives!

OK, New Yorkers. Calm down. You’re not the only people in the country with flying cockroaches – check out the palmettos (nice name for giant roaches) in Florida and the really giant tree roaches in Texas (everything’s bigger in Texas). In fact, over 75 percent of all roaches can fly. So why don’t you ever see them buzzing down Broadway to catch a matinee showing of Wicked?


Ken Schumann, an entomologist at Bell Environmental Services, explains why in a recent report released by DNAinfo based on a survey of New York exterminators.

In hot steam tunnels, something with the temperature and the humidity encourages them to fly.

So the hot weather we’ve been having lately (which may or may not have anything to do with climate change, depending on your political party or opinion on roaches – candidates or otherwise) is the cause of the recent spate of flying roaches in New York City. And they’re not exactly flying like the monkeys in Wicked. It’s more of a glide downwards, so that cheap apartment with no a/c on the top floor is actually a good place to be.

american roach 570x251
American cockroach

Why haven’t New Yorkers seen their roaches (and they are our roaches – the flying ones are American cockroaches, not German cockroaches – USA! USA!) flying around before? Blame the garbage, says Rich Miller, owner of Broadway Exterminating.

As the evolution occurred, their wings became and less important to them. There’s so much food around, they don’t use their wings like they used to.

Unfortunately, a warmer climate means the New York roaches may be evolving into airborne cucarachas, says Srini Kambhampati, professor and chair of the biology department at the University of Texas at Tyler.

Because of the extreme heat, they may be trying to find a more comfortable place in which to live. Their development also depends on ambient temperature, so it is conceivable that they are more active in this current, very hot summer.

Does this story have a happy ending? Let’s see … hot weather, flying roaches, climate change, roaches evolving to fly more … nope. Unless maybe you’re into drinking cockroach milk as an energy drink. Having them hover might make them easier to milk.

Billy Joel may have to change some lyrics.


Paul Seaburn

Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.

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