Feisty parrots, alien cockroaches, crazy ants, and cats bearing frankincense and myrrh. It's an all-animal edition of What's Ruining Our Cities!
Wild parrots—actually former pets that have since escaped and flourished—can be found throughout Southern California. Mostly they just chill in palm trees, where they squawk and chatter like they're at a drunken dinner party. But these parrots like to hang on electrical poles, where they've destroyed a power line and caused an outage, leaving 6,109 Edison customers in Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, and a small portion of Manhattan Beach in the dark. Bird on a wire, indeed. [Los Angeles Times]
This is potentially frightening. Turns out that a species of cockroach named Periplaneta japonica may have hitched a ride from Asia with some of the ornamental landscaping planted on the High Line. Cool, you think: New York welcomes all visitors. But these roaches are way more dangerous than camera-toting tourists: The species can survive the city's brutal winters outdoors. It's probably nothing to worry about yet, say experts, since these megaroaches would have to outcompete the resident roaches to become invasive. But, still, be on the lookout for unfreezable roaches walking around without hats and mittens. [The Guardian]
If you haven't read the insane story about the crazy ants, get thee over to Jon Mooallem's story pronto. They really are called "crazy ants," and they're invading Texas—and guess what? They love to munch on your electronics! "Entomologists report that the crazy ants, like other ants, seem drawn to electronic devices—car stereos, circuit boxes, machinery. But with crazy ants, so many will stream inside a device that they form a single, squirming mass that completes a circuit and shorts it. Crazy ants have ruined laptops this way and, according to one exterminator, have also temporarily shut down chemical plants." CRAZY! [New York Times]
Everyone is coming to see Baby Jesus, even the feral cats living in the Red Hook neighborhood of New York, who have taken over a nativity scene set up outside the home of Annette and Sue Amendola. The cats initially hunker down next to the donkeys and camels, but they're not satisfied being part of the animal kingdom. Apparently, when the Amendolas try to place Christ, the newborn king, into the creche, the cats shove him aside and curl up in the manger themselves. Aside from this rogue act of atheism—or perhaps because of it?—they're ADORABLE. [DNA Info]
Wild parrots on powerlines in South Pasadena, by Tim Watson.