The new species of cockroach likes to crawl up grass, has been nicknamed a leaproach.
In Africa scientists have discovered a new species set to send shudders around the world – jumping cockroaches.
The previously-unknown insect was found leaping around in undergrowth inside the Table Mountain National Park near Cape Town.
And while millions of homeowners and bug-haters might wince at the thought, the discovery has been hailed a scientific triumph.
This month the jumping cockroach – nicknamed the ‘leaproach’ – was named one of the top 10 new species for 2011.
The unusual creature was first spotted by South African biologists Mike Picker and Jonathan Colville.
Professor Picker, who works at the University of Cape Town, today told how the zoologists discovered the insect by chance as they searched for flies during a research project.
He said: ‘We were sweep netting and spotted something that at first looked like a grasshopper.
‘But when we got it back to the laboratory it became clear it was a cockroach, closely related to the common roach but with sophisticated hind legs and the ability to jump many times its own height.
‘For some people it could be an unpleasant thought but in reality the cockroach is misunderstood.
‘There are at least 4,000 species of them and of them just two are the kind that live in drains or sewage lines and cause problems for humans.
This new species has been living side by side with grasshoppers and is capable of powerful and energetic jumping.
‘It is a remarkable creature and really quite elegant.’ The South African scientists discovered the leaproach in 2006 and have since studied the insect in their laboratory.
The half-inch creature has the same dreaded appearance as the common cockroach, which is hated around the world for its scuttling, ugly appearance and notorious near-invincibility.
Studies have revealed the Cape Town cockroach can exist happily beside grasshoppers and is active by day, unlike its common household counterpart.
Professor Picker and Dr Colville first gained international recognition for their discovery last year after they wrote an article about the insect for an international journal.
In it, they officially named the leaproach ‘Saltoblattella montistabularis’ – the first part being Latin for ‘jumping cockroach’ and the second a reference to the Table Mountain park.
The insect has now been added to a list of more than 4,000 known cockroach species – and so far, it is the only one that can jump.
The leaproach was also listed this month on the International Institute for Species Exploration’s list of recently-discovered creatures – a top 10 of the most impressive new animals found around the world.
Professor Picker, an expert on South African insects, said it appeared the jumping cockroach was endemic to the Table Mountain area, a national park which surrounds the famous flat-topped mountain and is famous for its fynbos fauna.
He added: ‘This area is a world heritage site and home to hundreds of endemic animals and plants.
‘We’re obviously pleased this new cockroach has been recognised globally.
‘It shows the richness of its environment, where it lives alongside other unusual creatures such as the ghost frog and the albino velvet worm.’
Via Daily Mail