Currently viewing the category: "Potato Bugs, Wetas and Parktown Prawns"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  What type of cricket is it?
Geographic location of the bug:  Salinas CA USA
Date: 11/11/2017
Time: 11:12 PM EDT
I believe that this is a cricket. What is the exact name of this cricket on the photo. I found this one on my backyard patio and took a photo.
How you want your letter signed:  Mark

Jerusalem Cricket

Dear Mark,
Though it is commonly called a Jerusalem Cricket or a Potato Bug, this member of the genus
Stenopelmatus is not a true cricket, nor is is from Jerusalem, nor does it eat potatoes.  It is nonetheless an iconic Southern California insect that lives underground and is generally only encountered when digging or after a recent rain.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  biggest insect I’ve ever seen…
Geographic location of the bug:  Sun Kosi river, SE Nepal
Date: 10/27/2017
Time: 12:31 PM EDT
We found this huge insect on a beach on the Sun Kosi river, 7th October. It was about the size of  a child’s hand, with very long antennae. After running around our feet for a while it buried itself in the sand.
Any idea what it is? Sorry the pictures aren’t great but it was dark and raining!
How you want your letter signed:  Gareth

Dune Cricket

Dear Gareth,
This is some species of Longhorned Orthopteran in the suborder Ensifera, but we are not certain of its classification beyond that generality.  We suspect this is some species of ground Katydid, possibly a Shieldbacked Katydid.  We know we have something similar looking in our archives, but we are unable to locate it.  We will contact Katydid expert Piotr Naskrecki to see if he can provide a more specific identification.

Piotr Naskrecki Responds
What a beautiful creature. This is Schizodactylus, a member of the ancient family Schizodactylidae, with members in NE Asia and Southern Africa. Its hind wings are always curled like this, which probably helps them move backwards in their underground burrows.

With that information, we were able to find this image of Schizodactylus monstrosu on Orthoptera Species File that looks very similar.  iNaturalist refers to family members as Dune Crickets.

Hi Daniel
That must be it – the face, the feet, and the curled-up shape at its back all look the same.
Thanks for your help tracking it down!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Bu Jiminy, it’s a huge cricket!
Geographic location of the bug:  Borneo
Date: 09/29/2017
Time: 06:33 PM EDT
Dear Bug-dudes, on the road up to Mt. Kinabalu I foolishly picked this monster up to get a size comparison photo – it chomped the end of my bird-flipping finger and drew ridiculous amounts of blood … for a cricket!! I guess it’s about 3 1/2″ long.  A fantastic beast indeed, as are so many on this amazing island.  I’m very surprised that my googling has not revealed the animals true identity – help would be appreciated.
How you want your letter signed:  Paul Prior

Large Ensiferan from Borneo

Dear Paul,
This looks to us like a close relative of North American Potato Bug, or a King Cricket from Australia or Parktown Prawn from South Africa.  We located an image on ShutterStock, but alas, it is only identified as a “giant cricket in Sabah, Borneo.”  We hope to have a better identification for you soon.  We will attempt to contact Piotr Naskrecki.

Possibly Sia incisa

Piotr Naskrecki provides an identification
Hi Daniel,
This looks like Sia, possibly S. incisa, a distant relative of North American Jerusalem crickets.
Piotr Naskrecki, Ph. D.
Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University

Ed. Note:  We found a matching image on Wikiwand.

Large Ensiferan

Thanks guys, this is brilliant. Certainly looks pretty close to the pics I see on the internet. No mention of size and the map doesn’t show Borneo, but perhaps there’s another larger species occurring on that island (which so many examples of “gigantism”!).
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  What IS this???
Geographic location of the bug:  Kennewick, WA, USA
Date: 09/27/2017
Time: 02:14 AM EDT
This thing was making the creepiest tapping sound outside my door and is pretty large. (May need to zoom in on the picture). Never seen one before. Help! Should I worry???
How you want your letter signed:  Curious and a little creeped out

Potato Bug

Dear Curious and a little creeped out,
Commonly called a Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket, this fascinating creature is quite common in Southern California and other parts of the American southwest, but BugGuide data indicates a far greater range including Washington.  Potato Bugs are not considered harmful toward humans, however, they do have powerful mandibles and they might bite if carelessly handled.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  who is THIS?
Geographic location of the bug:  solvang California
Date: 09/18/2017
Time: 04:34 PM EDT
this bug invaded our high school girlfriends weekend reunion in cali & caused lots of screaming & near-wetting-of pants
How you want your letter signed —
queenie & lulu

Potato Bug

Dear Queenie & Lulu,
Just out of curiosity, was the high school that inspired the girlfriends’ weekend reunion from elsewhere?  The Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket is a real Southern California icon, and most children who grow up in the southland know about them.  Based on your images, it appears that it headed to the pool.  That might be a sign it has been parasitized by a Horsehair Worm or Gordian Worm, an internal parasite that causes the Potato Bug to seek water, at which point the long, hairlike worm burst out, killing the Potato Bug.  Seeing that might have caused some actual “wetting of pants.”

thank you for your reply! yes, indeed we went to high school in des moines, iowa. two of the girls live in california (we were staying at one of their homes near santa barbara, at alisal ranch) and they have lived there for many years so i guess they are lucky not to have encountered such a creepy cali icon previously!
i knew i would find out what this bug was because my one time grand dog’s portable water dish got a cricket in it that DID spawn a horsehair worm so i’ve had that experience as well….SO ICKY (did not wet my pants tho, whew).
i forwarded the girls my email to you folks with the attached note to them:  Kate, Karla & Becky…do you remember me telling you on the way to the airport I would figure out this bug based on my experience of finding out about horsehair worms that hatched out of crickets that got into Oliver’s water when I took him to nitefall on the river? HOW.CRAZY.IS.THAT.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject: Bug ID
Location: California
June 23, 2017 8:52 pm
Found in California. Very unusual to see something like this in California.
Signature: Joan C.

Potato Bug

Dear Joan,
We beg to differ with you.  The Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket is a Southern California icon, and it is one of the most frequent identification requests we receive.  Potato Bugs are subterranean dwellers that use their front legs to quickly dig through the earth like a mole.

Potato Bug

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination