Magazine article Science News

Will the Real Asian Roach Please Stand Up?

Magazine article Science News

Will the Real Asian Roach Please Stand Up?

Article excerpt

Will the real Asian roach please stand up?

Possibly the only redeeming value ofroaches is that they scatter when the light's turned on.

Ah, but wait. Enter the Asian cockroach,Blattella asahinai. Unlike its cousins it's liable to just stand there and get in the way of the mustard jar when you get up for a midnight snack. And if that's not bad enough, it's likely to take wing and follow you to the next place you flick on the light switch.

To the novice, the Asian roach--firstfound in Florida just three years ago--is easily mistaken for North America's most prevalent household variety, the German cockroach. In fact, even the experts have a hard time telling the difference. But researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Gainesville, Fla., have recently developed a detection technique using a chemical assay that distinguishes the Asian roach from the German variety 100 percent of the time, says organic chemist David A. Carlson. The technique will allow other researchers to monitor the spread of the Asian cockroach, says Carlson, who developed it with Richard J. Brenner. Carlson will present his findings later this year at the annual meeting of the Entomological Society of America in Boston.

Carlson's technique is an adaptation ofone he developed to differentiate Africanized bees from their European cousins (SN: 4/4/87, p.218). To identify the Asian roach, researchers experimented with roaches using an assay for cuticular hydrocarbons, the chemicals found in the outer waxy layer that covers the roach's whole body. …

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