Thirty years ago, the Turkestan cockroach made its way from Asia to the U.S., becoming the most common and predominant cockroach in the Southwest, invading homes, barns and entire apartment complexes. Romero has been researching this pest for two years, trying to find ways to control it.
The Turkestan cockroach is a regularly seen in compost piles, leaf litter, potted plants, sewers, water-meter boxes, hollow block walls and under broken pavement.
In the lab, the colonies of Turkestan and other cockroaches, which are mostly gathered by putting sticky traps around the building or in the field, are kept in plastic or glass aquarium containers, feeding on dog food and water. The hundreds of cockroaches stay together inside cardboard egg cases, scattering as soon as they sense movement.
Turkestan cockroaches, which Romero has been collecting for three years, were first reported in California, Texas and Arizona and reproduce quickly, taking 6 months to grow to adult stage.
“Unfortunately there is not much information about this cockroach,” he said. “The most striking fact about Turkestan cockroaches is how well they have adapted to our climate and dry conditions and also their presence all year. Turkestan cockroaches also develop much faster than some other local cockroaches and this explains why they are more abundant.”