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Flying Cockroaches: See The Gross Things Heat Does To NYC's Bugs

NEW YORK, NY — The stench of steaming garbage, the disgusting sauna of the subway station and the drip of overhead air conditioner units.

If that grossness isn't enough to have you fleeing New York City during a heatwave, here's something that will surely push you over the edge.

The cockroaches are about to start flying.

As a heat advisory goes into effect Saturday, with temperatures expected to stay well into the 90s for a week, the city's human dwellers will likely get lethargic. Unfortunately, it weather will have the opposite effect on the city's buglife.

Experts say there's nothing like a scorching sun to boost the activity of creepy crawlies. Here's what you can expect over the next few days:


They're horrific enough scuttling across your floor or emerging from the drain. Imagine them flying head height straight at you. Heat does something to the muscles and energy levels of these disgusting critters, experts say, and they suddenly start using the wings you probably didn't even know they had.

The two most common types of New York City roach are German cockroaches and water bugs, also known as American cockroaches.

No matter what the species, cockroaches breed — and infest — at alarming rates in the summer as warm weather allows them to move around more freely, according to Dr. Joseph Kunkel, a biology professor at the University of Massachusetts.

Though German cockroaches have wings, it's the American species that actually takes flight.

Roaches are, unfortunately for us, particularly hardy creatures. They can live without a head for up to a month, feed on dead, decaying matter and withstand ten times more radiation than humans.

"They will thrive wherever they find food, water and a dark place to live," said Leonard Douglen, executive director of the New York Pest Management Association.

When it gets hot outside, they come inside in greater numbers looking for cooler environments, according to Ben Pearlman, owner of Positive Pest Management. If your building is already infested, that means there's a good chance you may be in for even more unwelcome visitors this weekend.


Yes, they can also fly.

Like cockroaches, these insects also thrive in the heat. The tiny, wood-eating terminators really start wreaking havoc in the summer as they begin to establish new colonies and swarm throughout your home by the hundreds or even millions.

"Often the sight of termite swarms are the first indication that homeowners and others have as they discover termites, mostly around windows as they are drawn to the light," Douglen said.

"But it's the termites they can't see, however, that pose the greatest threat."

As many as 60 percent of New York homes are likely to possess active termite colonies, according to Douglen.

Carpenter Ants – They also swarm when it gets hot and can be "just as devastating to a home or other structure' as termites, Douglen said.

"An entire colony of carpenter ants can emerge from winter hibernation and enter a home in the thousands in a single day," Douglen said.

What Can You Do?

As the weekend approaches, keep your exterminator on speed dial in case of disaster. A do-it-yourself approach almost never cures severe infestations, Pearlman said.

Regular exterminator inspections will help keep the pests at bay, but they may not always be enough to keep your unwanted guests from returning forever — no matter how clean you may be.

"Mother Nature never takes a vacation and affords insect and rodent pests as well as other creatures many opportunities to reproduce in staggeringly high numbers," Douglen said.

"A home with its warmth, its ample supplies of food and water, and its wood components are magnets for pests of every description."

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