Dogs Save Potato Bug From Papparazi

April 29, 2010 · 6 comments

This post is about a potato bug we met returning home on “The Path” a few weeks ago.

However, I find the bug so repulsive that I’m going to break us all in gently by showing you who we had met earlier in the day at Pelican Point Beach.


They’d grown, and they were dry and fluffy, but we recognized them right away as they bounded down the stairs on to the beach.


And yes, they were just as adorable and engaging to watch as they had been the first day we met them.

(Note: Oliver’s manners have not yet improved significantly. Everyone knows it’s rude to pee in the pool. Lulu seemed quietly resigned to the situation, though. Some of life’s “what boys do” lessons just come early, I guess. And no, we have no idea why we seem to catch all manner of animals taking a leak. Perhaps they’re just relaxed around us.)

Okay, I think you’re ready for a bug shot now.


You can’t say we didn’t warn you.

We’d had our play with Lulu and Oliver and were on our way back up the hill when we saw “it” in the middle of the path. We had no idea what it was, but I’m very clear on what my visceral and completely girly response was to the sighting: “EWWWW! That’s just disgusting!”

It was two inches long–which is a BIG bug for California–and looked like a cross between a grasshopper, wasp, and the biggest dang ant I’ve ever seen. Did it fly? Could it hop? If so, how high? A quick trip to Wikipedia made me feel better about how squeamish I was:

“In California, the Jerusalem cricket is known as a potato bug.Its large, human-like head has inspired both Native American and Spanish names for the Jerusalem cricket. For example, several Navajo names refer to the insect’s head:[8]

  • c’ic’in lici (Tsiitsʼiin łichíʼí) “red-skull”
  • c’os bic’ic lici (Chʼosh bitsiitsʼiin łichíʼí) “red-skull bug”
  • c’ic’in lici’ I coh (Tsiitsʼiin łichíʼítsoh) “big red-skull”
  • wo se c’ini or rositsini (Wóó tsiitsʼiin) “skull insect” [Who, I ask you, would have warm fuzzy thoughts about a huge bug with a red humanesque head? Ick.]

Also from the same wiki page: “Despite their name, Jerusalem crickets are neither true crickets, true bugs, nor native to Jerusalem, and they do not prefer potatoes for food.”

Interesting, but somehow doesn’t make it any easier for me to look at it. Need a break now…


The dogs still adore each other.


Equals in size, maturity, energy, temperament and ear-biting skills, it was like watching kids let out of class on the last day of school before summer break.

Ready to get back to the bug?

(And note what kind and considerate bloggers we are? We even issue “disgusting photo” alerts for our readers. Who else does THAT? Come to think of it, who else posts disgusting bug photos? Hmmm… never mind.)


It was kind of dragging itself along, exoskeleton bumping along the gravel as it hauled its big disturbing self towards the grass on the side of the path.

Ack. Enough.





How many nasty weapons of mass destruction does one two-inch bug need? Look at all those blades and pointy bits! Are those eggs on the underbelly? And doesn’t that thigh also look kind of human as well?



Why do we find some creatures so delightful and others make us gag on sight? I’d love to know. What I do know is that there are many “human-like” attributes evident in these dogs: flowing hair, smiling faces, the joy of companionship and play, bling… and I don’t find them offensive at all.

I feel I’m missing something here.


In any case, we had reached the stage of “Honey, get out one of our cards and see if you can move it to a better angle, okay? Honey?” (Read: “I’m not going anywhere NEAR hopping distance to the thing, but I’d love a close up shot of that face.”) Just as “we” were getting within nudging distance, who should appear on The Path, but…


… the rescue squad.

One of the owners, obviously a native Californian, said “Oh, a potato bug,” upon which he bent over, scooped it up, and threw it in the bushes. “There! That’ll give him a chance. See ya next time!”

Sigh… you never know what you’ll miss until it’s gone.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Keith April 30, 2010 at 6:10 pm

I think a couple minutes on the grill and a few Manhattans and that
“Parktown Prawn” would be quite delicious……don’tcha think?


Maree Clarkson April 29, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Aaaw! What a BEAUTIFUL bug! We have them here in S.A. as well, referred to as “Parktown Prawns” (Libanasidus vittatus, a monotypic species of king cricket found in South Africa – Despite its name, it is not a true prawn, but called one due to its appearance. Regarded as a pest, the Parktown prawn is held in a similar regard as a cockroach, with a strong exoskeleton and resistance to insecticide, making it difficult to kill. It feeds on a variety of food including snails, vegetable matter, cat food, and dog food – some grow to 10 cm (3.9 in) or more,) and they elicit the same response as yours from most people here as well. But they are completely harmless, although fearsome looking!

Great post and love the poodles!


rickandkathy April 30, 2010 at 8:05 am

Maree! Thanks for your comments and kind words. As much as I’d (Kathy answering this morning) really like to see this critter as “beautiful,” I just can’t seem to work it up. And according to Wikipedia, our Jerusalem cricket packs a very nasty bite! If that weren’t the case, I could probably work my way around to viewing them as “harmless,” as I have with garter snakes 🙂 That notwithstanding, I’m sure they are very much of the “live and let live” variety, and not given to aggressively hunting down squeamish girly types to chomp.


Sandi Fentiman April 29, 2010 at 6:56 pm

That bug looked like a reject from a animal mad scientist lab. 🙂


rickandkathy April 29, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Our sentiment exactly!


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