Potato Bug Carnage in Pasadena

Subject: Giant termite? No idea
Location: Pasadena, CA
December 5, 2014 9:22 am
Found this crawling near the air return inside my house. Unfortunately my wife killed it before I coild jar it. It was about the size of my thumb. Huge head and distinct eyes. Had a water issue in my garage and notice some damp wood looking termites but and signs of dry wood termite droppings on some rafters too. House is 100 years old. Is this big a termite? Do they get this big??!!!
Signature: Walter

Potato Bug Carnage
Potato Bug Carnage

Dear Walter,
This is not a Termite.  Your wife has squashed a Southern California icon known as a Potato Bug.  Potato Bugs are subterranean dwellers related to crickets and grasshoppers.  Often the first heavy rains of the season drive them to the surface where they are encountered by people who are often quite startled upon seeing such a large, distinctive, almost humanoid creature for the first time.  Potato Bugs are not dangerous to humans, though they do have strong mandibles that could deliver a painful nip if they are carelessly handled.  We are tagging this an Unnecessary Carnage because we feel squashing Potato Bugs is an extreme reaction.

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