Image: © Jack Bradley

Meet the Newly Named ''Peppered Cockroach''


The Animal Facts Editorial Team


July 12, 2023 7:40 pm


Bridgeport, Connecticut, The United States

Connecticut's Beardsley Zoo have shared the news of how one of their staff has helped to formalise a common name for a species of cockroach, Archimandrita tessellata. The leading authority in invertebrate naming, the Entomological Society of America (ESA) have accepted the name of ''peppered cockroach'' for the species and added it to their Common Names database.

The ESA is an organisation with 7,000 members who share a passion for insect science. They maintain the ESA common names database, an essential reference material for those working with insects. It includes more than 2,000 common names and is searchable by common name, scientific name, author, order, family, genus, and species.

Connecticut Beardsley’s Zoo Educator Andrew Connolly began his hunt for a common name after noticing some differences in the appearance of the Zoo’s Trinidad Cave Cockroach with the characteristics most commonly recognized for this species. Differences in coloration, wing transparency and a more spotted pattern all triggered him to investigate further.

Joining forces with educator Chrissy Shore, who had taken care of the Zoo’s cockroaches for the past several years Andrew began looking for answers. She agreed this was a different species and after finding a scientific name for their species they realised it was know by different names at zoos across the country.

Due to the issues this can cause with properly identifying the species Andrew reached out to a former professor at Ohio University, Becca Brodie, Ph.D., for assistance. Becca pointed him towards the ESA. Andrew then conducted research and consulted with experts including those from the Topeka Zoo, National Geographic’s Photo Ark by Joel Sartore, and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. 

This research identified several common names for the species with several being variations on the name ''peppered cockroach.''

Eight months after his quest began Andrew was finally ready to submit his research to the ESA’s Governing Board, whose next step was to submit Connolly’s suggested name proposal for a member review. They have accepted the proposal and assigned the common name ''peppered cockroach'' for Archimandrita tessellata. This species will now occur in the ESA common names database.

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s Education Curator Jim Knox said, “This was a very significant undertaking as using a common name among researchers and within the zoological and scientific community ensures that researchers are studying and discussing the same insect. Providing an agreed-upon common name within the scientific insect community is a first for an educator at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo. This is an impressive achievement, and we couldn’t be prouder of Andrew!” 

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Our Favourite Peppered Cockroach Fact!

Peppered cockroaches are naturally found foraging in leaf litter throughout Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama and Columbia. Their main role in the ecosystem is to decompose leaves on the forest floor.

Image: © Jack Bradley

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