Currently viewing the category: "Potato Bugs, Wetas and Parktown Prawns"

Subject:  Large insect I spotted.
Geographic location of the bug:  Lincoln County, Southwest Wyoming
Date: 09/28/2021
Time: 06:08 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear Bugman,
I was hiking on a hill and spotted this large bug on the ground. I searched through a site with pictures and categories, but couldn’t get a match.
I took this photo with a Moto smartphone zoomed out, about 4-5″away. Bug is about 2″ long.
Location:
On a foothill just East of Kemmerer, Wyoming.
Elevation: about 7000 ft.
Season:
September 27, 2021 at 5pm
I would appreciate any insight. Thank you!
How you want your letter signed:  Bill R.

Jerusalem Cricket

Dear Bill,
This is a Jerusalem Cricket or Potato Bug, two common names that really do not adequately describe an unusual group of insects in the only genus found in North America,
Ammopelmatus, in the family Stenopelmatidae.  Sightings of Potato Bugs are quite common in the Los Angeles area, and when Daniel began writing What’s That Bug? in print over 20 years ago, he thought, as many naturalists thought, that these critters were limited to the American Southwest.  Internet reporting by regular folks like you have caused scientists to realize that the range of Potato Bugs includes many other western states.  BugGuide reports previous sightings from Wyoming, but we speculate they are not too common at the edge of their reported range.  Potato Bugs are subterranean dwellers that often come to the surface after a rain.  According to BugGuide they:  “Live in burrows and under rocks, logs, may wander on surface at night. Adults, and sometimes nymphs, strike ground with abdomen to produce species-specific drumming patterns (1). Female makes depression in soil for masses of oval, white eggs. Female often devours mate.”

Subject:  Jerusalem cricket in Oklahoma
Geographic location of the bug:  Sand springs Oklahoma
Date: 08/01/2021
Time: 02:31 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I stepped on a Jerusalem cricket this morning in my mudroom. Unfortunately it was dark and I accidentally stepped on it. The cricket didn’t survive. I am surprised because I didn’t think we had Jerusalem crickets in Oklahoma.
How you want your letter signed:  Diana

Jerusalem Cricket

Dear Diana,
We are not certain how common Jerusalem Crickets are in Oklahoma, but BugGuide does have sighting data from Oklahoma.

Subject:  Crazy looking bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Aliso Viejo, CA, USA
Date: 12/05/2019
Time: 11:52 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello. Just found this bug laying by my front door. I didn’t harm it I promise. Seems that it died on its own.
How you want your letter signed:  Matthew S.

Potato Bug

Dear Matthew,
This is a Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket, an iconic Southern California insect that lives underground.  They are often driven to the surface after the first rains of the season.

Subject:  so california insect
Geographic location of the bug:  THousand oaks, ventura county CA
Date: 11/07/2019
Time: 05:03 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  please help me know what this bug is, found on our doorstep last evening.   it’s about 1.5 inches long.
How you want your letter signed:  mike

Potato Bug

Dear Mike,
We doubt that many Southlanders, either natives or recent arrivals, will ever forget their first encounter with a Potato Bug, an iconic insect found in Southern California.  Potato Bugs are subterranean dwellers that are often sighted shortly after the first good rain to hit the region as they come to the surface.

Subject:  Bug Spotted on Zion Hike
Geographic location of the bug:  Zion National Park, Utah
Date: 10/28/2019
Time: 03:37 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hello,
I saw this critter on a hike.  At first it was on it’s back and looked dead.  I flipped it over and it moved slightly.  It did not seem to be healthy.  My initial thought was that it somehow just passed through a predator’s digestive track.  So, what’s that bug?
P.S. I also saw a tarantula on this hike – photo also attached!
How you want your letter signed:  Zion Hiker

Potato Bug

Dear Zion Hiker,
This is a Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket, a subterranean dwelling Orthopteran that is most often found on the surface after a good rain.  It appears to have undergone a trauma.  We are always amazed at the number of squashed insects we have seen on hiking trails.  We generally think of hikers as nature lovers, and the squashed insects seem too numerous to have been accidentally stepped on.  Rather, we believe many hikers take out their fear and loathing of insects by squashing them on hiking trails. 

Subject:  Creepy camel spider look alike
Geographic location of the bug:  Hesperia California
Date: 08/02/2019
Time: 09:54 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What is it is it dangerous to me my children or pets?
How you want your letter signed:  Danielle

Potato Bug

Dear Danielle,
The Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket is one of our most common Southern California identification requests, but those sightings usually occur during rainy season when this subterranean dweller comes to the surface.  A mid-summer sighting during dry weather is somewhat unusual.  Though Potato Bugs have very powerful mandibles that could deliver a painful nip, they have neither venom nor poison, so they are harmless to you, your children and your pets.  It was interesting that you compared its appearance to that of a Camel Spider, a common name for a Middle Eastern Solifugid, because we get far more requests from people who have sighted a Solifugid and compare its appearance to that of a Potato Bug.