Common name: Native bush cockroach
Scientific name: Celatoblatta spp.
Māori name: Papata
Size: approx. 15mm
Habitat: Native forest
There are approximately 15 species within the Celoblatta genus in New Zealand. These small, wingless native cockroaches are usually found in forested areas under rotting logs or in leaf litter. They might on occassion come into your house but are not considered pests, instead prefering damp, dark places outdoors. In fact, of the many thousands of species of cockroaches worldwide, only a few associate themselves with humans. In New Zealand, the three main pests are all introduced species; the German (Blatella germanica), American (Periplaneta americana), and Gisborne (Drymaplaneta semivitta) cockroaches.
New Zealand’s native cockroaches are important contributors to forest ecosystems because they eat decaying organic matter. These important insect recyclers help to keep our forests healthy, and can even eat dead wood with the help of a community of special bacteria that live in their guts.
One Celatoblatta species, C. quinquemaculata, has been the subject of several interesting studies because of its incredible ability to withstand freezing alpine climates. Celatoblatta quinquemaculata can be found in the mountains of Central Otago at altitudes of at least 1300 metres above sea level. It can survive temperatures down to almost – 9 degrees Celcius!