Giant cockroach expands to the north with new species

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Cockroaches (Blattodea) are an insect order remarkable in their biodiversity and distribution, with more than 4500 species known and great geographical reach. Cockroach fossils date back around 400 million years, which testifies to their great adaptability and endurance that puts them among the planet’s great survivors.

Giant cockroach expands to the north with new species
One of the newly described species, Pseudophoraspis incurvata, with its wings spread out [Credit: Dr. Zongqing Wang]

The cockroach genus Pseudophoraspism has has been reported from China for the first time thanks to the discovery of three new species: Pseudophoraspis clavellata, Pseudophoraspis recurvata and Pseudophoraspis incurvata, alongside the first regional record of three already described ones. They belong to the cockroach family Blaberidae, known also as giant cockroaches.

Giant cockroach expands to the north with new species
The back and front of Pseudophoraspis recurvata, one of the newly described species [Credit: Dr. Zongqing Wang]

Although the adults of the newly described species can reach a size of around 3 cm in length, they are still some of the smallest representatives in the family. For comparison, the females of the largest species known, Blaberus giganteus, can reach up to 10 cm in length. The heaviest species, Macropanesthia rhinoceros, also known as the rhinoceros cockroach, reaches only around 8 cm but can weigh remarkable 35 grams.

Giant cockroach expands to the north with new species
The back and front of Pseudophoraspis clavellata, which is the largest among the newly described species (more than 3 cm long) [Credit: Dr. Zongqing Wang]

All of the known species of the genus Pseudophoraspis, to which the three newly described ones belong, were reported from Southeast Asia and South Asia, with Vietnam considered the north boundary of their territory. This new record of three already known species, and three newly discovered ones in China’s provinces Hainan, Yunnan and Guangxi, however, considerably expands the reach of the genus to the North.

One of the authors, Dr. Zongqing Wang from the Institute of Entomology, Southwest University, China comments: “All of the known species were reported from Southeast Asia and South Asia, and the previously known boundary of this genus would be Vietnam. We found three new species from China, located in Hainan, Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces respectively, which extends the range of the genus Pseudophoraspis northward.”

The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

Source: Pensoft Publishers via EurekAlert! [February 28, 2013]

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