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

Subject:  Strange looking Bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Modesto, CA
Date: 01/11/2018
Time: 09:55 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I just moved into a new house in Modesto, CA  and it’s not surprising that there is a lot of bugs around because I live about 200 yards away from a River. So I see a lot of centipedes and Beatles but about a week ago I seen a bug that I’ve never seen in my entire life. The only way I can describe the look of this bug was that it looked like an Alien. So I need some help to figure out exactly what kind of bug this is.
How you want your letter signed:  Franky Ocegueda

Possibly Mahogany Jerusalem Cricket

Dear Franky,
We don’t know from whence you moved to Modesto, but if you originated in Southern California, we are surprised you never encountered a Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket in the genus 
Stenopalmatus before this.  The first winter rains often bring these normally subterranean dwellers to the surface.  Their large size and vaguely humanoid appearance make them unforgettable.  Because your individual does not have a striped abdomen, we suspect it might be a Mahogany Jeerusalem Cricket, , a species identified on BugGuide where it states:  “Can be distinguished from other Stenopalmatus species by its lack of striping on the abdomen.”

Possibly Mahogany Jerusalem Cricket

Jerusalem Cricket or Potato Bug

Subject:  South African cricket like bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Stuttreheim, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Date: 01/12/2018
Time: 12:30 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi, I found  this bug cornered by my cats, and by my Jack Russell Terrier when I took the photos
How you want your letter signed:  Dean Sheard

Gnashing Cricket

Dear Dean,
This is one of the Orthopterans (the insect order that includes Crickets) in the family Anostostomatidae, a group that includes Wetas, Parktown Prawns and King Crickets, all common names that we find somewhat confusing when we get identification requests.  We located some images on iSpot that are identified as Gnashing Crickets in the genus
Henicus that look very similar to your insect, and we verified that identification on Minden Pictures where there is a nearly identical image posted by Katydid expert Piotr Naskrecki, whose authority we trust more than most images posted online.

Gnashing Cricket

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.

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!

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”!).

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.