It turns out there might be a whole gang of mutants hiding away in Malta right now, and they are right under one of the island’s most beautiful cemeteries.
A specialised rare mutation of the common American cockroach (Periplaneta americana) was found for the first time in the wild, right under Addolorata Cemetery.
This variant is unnaturally aggressive since it is “probably blind due to living in the depths of the cemetery,” said exterminator Arnold Sciberras after finding the colony. While it may be terrorising other nearby insects, it could tell us a whole lot about the local cockroach population.
“A population targeted for extermination was found in Addoralata cemetery after three specimens of this white eye variant were found in an underground shelter in Marsa, not very far from a normal but darker version of this species,” Sciberras told Lovin Malta.
Graphic warning: close-ups of cockroaches below.
“As far as we are aware, the white eye occurred as a rare mutation in different species of captive-bred roaches.”
It seems that the white eye bred variant came from a wild population that occurred naturally and was discovered in a coal-mine somewhere in the UK in the 1950s.
Sciberras came across the Maltese colony on the job as a pest controller, having noticed their habitat in a crack in Addolorata Cemetery. He is now gathering more information on the insects, and he has called on any members of the public that have come across exampled of this cockroach to contact him.
“The specimens we currently have are being studied and compared with offshore populations, and soon will be published as part of academic work,” he said.
Until then, they will be joining Sciberras’ personal cockroach collection, which Malta Records recently deemed the most biodiverse of its kind on the island.