A new species of cave-dwelling cockroach was recently described and named after Dr. Juan Carlos T. Gonzalez, director of the UPLB Museum of Natural History. Nocticola gonzalezi is the newly-described troglobiotic or a true cave-dwelling cockroach in the Philippines. The species was discovered and described by Cristian C. Lucañas and Dr. Ireneo L. Lit, Jr. of the Museum’s Entomological Section.

This particular species has been collected in a cave in Polillo Island, Quezon where bat guano deposits abound. In their article published in the journal Subterranean Biology (doi: 10.3897/subtbiol.19.9804), Lucañas and Lit reported that the “species is unique because it is very small compared to other members of the genus Nocticola.”

N. gonzalezi exhibits morphological characteristics such as reduced pigmentation that proves that it is a true cave-dweller,” the authors stated. According to the researchers, the species move fast among guano piles and usually hide in holes and cracks in the cave rocks. They also serve as potential prey items for other predatory arthropods such as whip spiders and whip scorpions.

Lucañas and Lit named the roach after Dr. Juan Carlos T. Gonzalez, current director of the Museum. “We wanted to recognize Director Gonzalez for his pioneering efforts and studies in the Polillo Islands,” Lit said.

Interestingly, this species is by far found only in one cave in the island and the authors have proposed a “Vulnerable” conservation status for the species, much like the other cave-dwelling arthropods that are restricted in range.

The paper authored by Lucañas and Lit also provided the first description of the males of Periplaneta banksi which have been found in the cave. It represents the first record of the species in a cave. Other four species, still unnamed, have been included by the authors in the list of cockroach species in Polillo caves.

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