According to reports the high temperatures in the United States are inspiring cockroaches to get airborne.

In New York City the mercury was forecast to hit 91 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday, with high levels of humidity. According to scientists, these weather conditions make it more likely that cockroaches will take to the air.

Flying Cockroaches
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Experts claim rising mercury inspires flight

A website called DNAinfo called upon experts who work with heat, cockroaches and flight, who concluded that high temperatures may make the insects more likely to fly. While no one is saying that cockroaches are the finest flyers in the animal kingdom, they do have wings.

“In hot steam tunnels, something with the temperature and the humidity encourages them to fly,” said Ken Schumann, an entomologist at Bell Environmental Services. “When it’s warm and steamy that seems to be what they like.”

Schumann says that cockroaches have a distinct way of flying. “It’s not like a flight pattern like a butterfly would have,” Schumann said. “It’s almost like they just glide down.”

City dwellers are already braced for the worsening smell of rotten garbage, and flying cockroaches might be a step too far. However this could make the roaches less likely to fly due to the easy availability of food. In fact, those in the south might be more likely to be troubled by flying cockroaches.

American Cockroaches are more likely to fly in southern states like Florida and Texas. In these states they are sometimes called palmetto bugs, because of their taste for landing in palm trees. Another difference is that cockroaches tend to live in suburban and rural areas in southern states, flying around to find food.

American cockroaches boast well-developed wings

There are thousands of different species of cockroach, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, and they have lived for hundreds of millions of years. However American cockroaches are known for their “well-developed wings,” in contrast to others.

Louis Sorkin, a senior scientific assistant at the American Museum of Natural history and entomologist, told DNAinfo that “with more heat they have more use of their muscles,” and that “the more activity, the more flight.”

It seems that people have noticed the phenomenon, with plenty of posts on Twitter discussing the subject. One user, Amanda Mull, says that she “once saw a flying roach so big it chased my parents 60lb dog out of a room.”

Fellow user Adam Sternbergh wrote: “First time I saw a cockroach flying in NYC felt like the scene in JURASSIC PARK when raptors learn how to open doors”

If you do live in New York and start seeing flying cockroaches, you can take scant consolation in the fact that residents of Florida and Texas have been seeing the phenomenon for years. Hopefully the entire heatwave passes without you finding a demented cockroach buzzing around your apartment, as has happened to some people.

“Best thing about living in #NYC is when a huge cockroach flies through ur window & starts shooting around the apt like a drone on steroids,” wrote Mia Legg on Twitter. Fingers crossed that you aren’t the next person to find yourself with an uninvited house guest that you really, really don’t want to touch.

For those readers in the southern states, here is an opportunity to have a laugh at the hysteria of New Yorkers when faced by a phenomenon that you guys have got used to over the years.