What is this?

On January 30, 2012 by Eden M. Kennedy

Jack says it’s a “potato bug.”

I almost stepped on this little fellow last week when we were walking along the bluffs. Since it was still wiggling its feet a bit, Jack flipped it over so I could take a proper portrait. It was huge! Like, two inches long. My god, it looks like a dinosaur, doesn’t it.

This handsome dinosaur bug is most assuredly dead by now, and I say it like that because I’ve been reading Evelyn Waugh.



43 Responses to “What is this?”

  • What the. I can’t even. WHAT IS THAT.
    I thought a potato bug was a tiny little critter that rolled up into a little ball when provoked. Like less than 1/4″.
    Oh god. MY EYES.

  • No no no no no no no, I want to unsee that first photo so bad. WHAT IS THAT THING. A potato bug is grey and small and curls into a ball when provoked, just as the previous commenter said. Aaaaahhhhh

  • That first picture is so comical and sad and HORRIFYING, by the way.

  • It’s a Jerusalem cricket.

  • We had one emerge at our theatre, out behind the piano, during a comedy improv show. Details here: http://beckyhaycox.com/hamblog/?p=4705

    I always knew it as a Jerusalem Cricket, and and fun fact!: they’re rumored to cry like babies..

  • Oddly, my son saw one of those for the first time yesterday, too. I’m like, whoa, are you even from California? They’re common as weeds.

    It’s a Jerusalem cricket. Harmless, but apparently they can bite if you pick’em up (so don’t do that). You need to invite your friendly neighborhood American kestrel round. They swoop down and nab these guys for a nice snack.

  • Beautiful. Amazing bug. There’s a reddit thread called ‘what’s that bug.’ Post it here:


    Someone almost always knows.

    I agree the first picture is comical, sad and horrifying all at once. If you ever wanted to get super weird you could do your dialogues with dead insects. Now that’s not just for the internet anymore–you’re getting into performance art territory there. NEA grant anyone?

    I am crazy for Waugh. His short stories are the very best. You aren’t reading A Handful of Dust are you? That’s the one to stay away from.

    • Oh man, the idea of her doing her thing with dead bugs is cracking me up! Harder to pose, but… Do it!!!

  • Its a Sand Puppy!

    And if they ever touch you, you will always smell like vinegar and you will have to take a bath in tomato juice to get rid of it!!! Just ask my big brothers…

  • Is THAT what hit Jackson’s window and left a mark? End of times.

  • It’s a Jerusalem cricket, but I think Handsome Dinasour Bug is a much better name.

  • Totally agree with snozma re-Waugh; keep clear of A Handful of Dust! My personal favourites are Scoop! (which is funny) and Brideshead Revisited (which is not, but which was the source of much pretentious university-years posturing on my pary).

  • Its an alien of some sort I am sure ;)

  • Heavens to Betsy, the RSS summary did not prepare me for that. A rum-based drink may have.

  • It doesn’t look real – it looks like the animatronic ant from “Honey I Shrunk the Kids.” This will be in my nightmares.

  • If I saw that bug in my potato bag I would most certainly freak out and never eat them again. We don’t have such monstrosities in Ohio. I will site this as another good reason to live in Ohio when people ask why I live here.

  • Aww! Poor little dude.

  • That thing is ugly as eff!

  • Jack says “Jerusalem cricket” is just a fancy name for potato bug, and he’s not budging.

    I am reading The Loved One and will steer clear of A Handful of Dust, thank you! I plan on reading Jessica Mitford’s The American Way of Death next because I’m on a small (two-book) funeral industry jag.

  • ‘Tater bugs, in my world, are shiny and yellow striped. These little dudes, in fact.

    The little rolly bugs that everyone here is talking about are actually woodlice, and they’re darn near a living fossil. They are actually a crustacean which I think is pretty darn cool.

  • Oh, God. I encountered one of those once. It would. Not. Die. I call them potato bugs too, but used to think those silvery roly-poly bugs were potato bugs. Those are actually pill bugs.

    And Handful of Dust is horrible, horrible. I think it gave me worse PTSD than the potato bug. Such a sad, awful book.

  • 1. Potato bug.
    2. aka “baby head bug”
    3. yuck.

  • You guys get all the cool vermin! NY is stuck with lice, bed bugs and rats. They are never so cute and horrifying.

  • I will never forget my one and only encounter with a potato bug. I wish I could. Just like I wish could forget the last part of “A Handful of Dust”. Both equally haunting.

    Now, pill bugs AKA sow bugs AKA rolly-pollys? Adorable.

  • I think it’s a kind of cricket. Definitely not a potato bug!

  • I’ll add the name “Earth Baby” to the growing list of aliases for this bug. They are my least favorite bug on the planet, partly because their fat little legs do kind of remind me of a baby. I accidentally chopped one in half with a shovel when I was gardening and was terribly traumatized. The mere memory has made me need to go lie down.

  • It just makes me hate/scared of bugs even more. That looks like it belongs in Panama or something with the rest of the weird insects/animals. lol. You’re brave for getting that close.

  • My California-born spouse calls them potato bugs. My brother calls them Children of the Earth. I call them gross. And they do make a godawful noise.

  • My husband calls them potato bugs too. And we too are in SoCal. They’re really gross.

  • Yep. Potato bug. My sister-in-law has a story about trying to smash one with an iron skillet and it. would. not. die. They’re not too easy to squish.

    I had a pet roly-poly when I was little. I loved that guy! I made him a home in an egg carton.

    • I had a pet tomato worm who lived in a mayo jar. Briefly. Then he pissed me off.

  • That bug MUST have been created by Sid & Marty Krofft!

  • i second the “potato bug” identification. “jerusalem cricket”, my shorts! that’s what we always called them growing up. when my mom first arrived in america from a far off land, she found one in her house. she called the police and could only describe it as looking like a “little alien.” back then, crime must have been limited, because they sent out a squad car and an officer removed it for her! fyi, i’m from carp, so the potato bug moniker might be local?

  • A Handful of Dust is great but disturbing. If you feel like being disturbed off and on for a few years, then go for it. But I figured you’d rather pass on that.

  • Just looking at that creature makes my scalp itch.

  • Evelyn Waugh is so dandy.

  • when I lived in Goleta one of these popped up on my doorstep. I had my landlord remove it (he kindly saved it and rehomed it in the trees) and I thought that would be the end of it. But a couple of days later I got a message from my roommate telling me that it was IN THE APARTMENT! She trapped it in a shoebox (after throwing pencils, starburst and shoes at it) and my friend and I sprayed everything toxic we had on it. Then we put it outside. The next morning it was gone. Probably eaten by something but we were convinced it was possessed and came back to life. Fortunately, we never saw it again.

  • WHAT THE … it’s kind of cute, but too big for comfort.

  • I will not admit to how many times I have clicked back here to look at that creepy ass bug. I am repulsed/amazed/terrified/perplexed by it.