Dispersion of Marked American Cockroaches from Sewer Manholes in Phoenix, Arizona

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  • Communicable Disease Center, Public Health Service, Atlanta, Georgia


Movements of the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana, from sewer manholes in Phoenix, Arizona, during the summer of 1953 were studied by a trap, mark, release, and recapture technique using paint or radioactive phosphorus. In two experiments where only the resident manhole populations were marked, very limited emigration was observed; only 4 of 800 marked cockroaches being recovered by intensive trapping in yards, homes, and neighboring manholes. However, when 1200 marked cockroaches were superimposed on a resident manhole population of 300 roaches, 71 tagged individuals were recovered within 15 days: one in a home, 5 in yards, and 65 still in the sewer system at distances up to 350 feet from the release point. This suggests that a sudden increase in population over that of the carrying capacity of the environment may incite emigration from the center of pressure.