Crazy Huge Backyard Bug
Location: Marin, California
April 22, 2011 12:03 pm
Hi, My son and I found this bug in our backyard in Marin, California yesterday (April 21). It appears somewhat like a non-flying bee/wasp (could it be a queen kicked out of nest?) and was moving very very slowly. The thing was HUGE – at leas 4 inches. It looked prehistoric and somewhat venemous. What is it?? Should I remove it from our yard if I encounter it again? Does it mean a colony of something dangerous is in our yard, or just an amazing creature? Thanks for any help!
Signature: Amazed by bug

Potato Bug

Dear Amazed by bug,
We hope you and your son will long remember your first encounter with a truly iconic California insect, the Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket, a member of the genus
Stenopelmatus.  Entomologists in recent years have realized that there is much more diversity in this genus than originally suspected, and BugGuide now indicates there may be as many as 60 North American species of this unique insect whose closest relatives are the Wetas of Australia.  Potato Bugs are not venomous, but they do have powerful jaws that might draw blood if a person carelessly handles a large individual.  Native Americans and Spanish speaking cultures have many myths and superstitions regarding this fascinating insect that is almost humanoid in its appearance.  There is no need to remove Potato Bugs from your yard.  They are subterranean dwellers that spend much of their time underground.  Potato Bugs comprise one of our most frequently made identification requests.

Potato Bug

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Location: California

2 Responses to Potato Bug

  1. terri anderson says:

    I have seen 2 of these in my life & I am 58. Both have been in California in my yard. My dad found one in around 1967 he showed it to us kids, we thought it looked like a new born baby. The family always refered to the bug as a baby face. My dad took it to the garden center, they said it was a Jerusalam beetle & that it was harmless . To be safe from those pinchers, he took a butter knife & poked it, it pinched the knife so hard my dad said he could feel the vibration of the bite through the knife handle. He went back to the garden center & said ah yeah they do bite. I saw on goggle today, they call them Earth Babys. They are the creepiest bug I’d ever seen but they fascinate me . But I hope not to see one any time soon.

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