November 5, 2009
we found this creature in a sink in our house in Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles. It is much bigger than any giant termite described on your website or in wikipedia, but looks similar in shape.
You can see on the picture that its head is only a little smaller than the dime.
When we tried to catch it, it disappeared into the drain, and lived in the water for several days, but kept coming up (for air?).
We tried to tease it out with a pipe cleaner to catch it, but it attacked the pipe cleaner, biting it, and pulling it from our hands.
This is a very strong and energetic bug.
It is sensitive to light and sound. When we caught it, it was a pale beige in color, probably from being under water. But within 30 minutes or so, it regained its black-and-brown-stripe pattern.
We would love to know what this is. And also, what it eats, as my kids would like to keep for a few days.
Los Angeles, CA
Dear Curious Angeleno,
We have received so many identification requests for Potato Bugs or Jerusalem Crickets in the past few day that we decided to post the one with the best letter and photo, and that is your query. Originally we just wrote back to you that this was a Potato Bug and didn’t provide more. This typically subterranean insect is found in the Western United States, typically in arid regions. There is much information available online and it is one of our Top 10 identification requests. Good luck with keeping it as a pet for a few days, and we hope you will release it afterward. Try feeding it root vegetables like carrots and potatoes. Despite its common name, it is not really a pest that consumes potatoes. Though they are harmless, Potato Bugs do have strong jaws and will bite if provoked. Again, other than a nip, the Potato Bug is harmless.