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Gigantic Bugs in Southern California

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the black-flag-stock-skyrockets dept.

Science 44

SloppyElvis writes "...and this time, Silicon Valley didn't create them. ;P CNN picked up this AP story about new species discovered in S.Cal. The most suprising news is this discovery came in such a densely-populated area. Beware, monstrous unknown creatures may be lurking in your backyard!"

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I've known about those hideous creatures forever (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3292307)

They're called "illegal immigrants".

Re:I've known about those hideous creatures foreve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3299572)

Don't tell me. The cockroaches in California can say things like "Yo quiero Taco Bell".

hmm.. (2, Interesting)

hari (15720) | more than 12 years ago | (#3292387)

I wonder if the timing of the news relates to the recent protest against dune buggies and other desert games.

Surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3292427)

This isn't news. Everybody knows that Caltech includes giant bugs in everything they release.

Phillip K. Dick character? (1)

andaru (535590) | more than 12 years ago | (#3292477)

The headline sounds like a wild proclamation made by a Phillip K. Dick character freaked out on Slow Death.

Maybe they're aphids...

In San Diego (1)

obtuse (79208) | more than 12 years ago | (#3292622)

A friend of mine was sleeping on the floor, in my guest room, when he heard something by his head.

When he turned on the light, he saw that the huge hideous Jerusalem Cricket that he had heard crawling.

Yow! They are big and ugly, and this is from someone who finds tarantulas pretty.

Re:In San Diego (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3299555)

One time I was awakened by a couple of crickets crawling on me. They weren't nearly as large as Jerusalem crickets apparently are, but I sure didn't renew my lease on that cruddy apartment.

Yikkes! (2, Interesting)

catseye (96076) | more than 12 years ago | (#3292662)

Jeepers, those things are huge. And really ugly. I'm suddenly reminded of why living in a northern climate isn't such a bad thing -- winter kill prevents giant beasties like this from (hopefully) taking residence.

I can't imagine they have many natural enemies (other than coyotes, as mentioned in the article) -- I know I definitely wouldn't want to see the spider big enough to eat one of those monsters. I wonder what has kept their population from exploding like with most insects?


Re:Yikkes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3294736)

Alligator lizards, rats, crows, ravens, owls, coyotes, etc.

Plenty of animals who'd just Love to find a next of these nice meal bugs.

Michael Sims (-1)

LOTR Troll (544929) | more than 12 years ago | (#3292730)

likes to kiss Seth Finkefunkenstein's bumm-bumm all night.

Pest control companies (3, Insightful)

BigBir3d (454486) | more than 12 years ago | (#3292875)

I am fairly sure that the pest control companies in the area knew of the bugs.

When I used to be a hired bug killer we would be asked by the company scientist if we had seen any of "bug x" and invariably, most of us had. Every time, he was surprised.

I guess scientists that don't spend much time in the field think that they know it all since they have read (suposedly) all of the books.

Re:Pest control companies (3, Informative)

HorsePunchKid (306850) | more than 12 years ago | (#3296941)

Your comment on the scientists is unwarranted. The article is poorly written, implying several times that scientists had never seen this insect in southern California before. On the contrary, the insect's presence in the area is well known and documented. The interesting (though not so exciting) news is that there are a number of different species of Jerusalem cricket [] , and that the adults of one of the species are significantly larger than those of other species, making it the largest insect (by mass).

Re:Pest control companies (correction) (1)

HorsePunchKid (306850) | more than 12 years ago | (#3297269)

Before anyone corrects me, I meant the largest insect in that area. The largest insect [] known is rather drastically larger :).

Bugs? (4, Funny)

epsalon (518482) | more than 12 years ago | (#3293292)

OK... So where can I download the patched version of Southern California?

What do you mean not that kind of bugs?

Re:Bugs? (1)

squidinkcalligraphy (558677) | more than 12 years ago | (#3294799)

Since the current use of the word `bug' in computer speech comes from the supposed bugs that caused errors in the valve-driven mainframes of old, imagine what sort of computer errors u'd get if one of these babies was let loose inside the server room; all the techies would be up on the tables trying to kill them with bits of computer paraphenalia lying around...

Freaky- Shades of The Hephaestus Plague (2)

schmaltz (70977) | more than 12 years ago | (#3293311)

This totally brings to mind a spooky horror novel from my childhood, called The Hephaestus Plague [] .

Any of 'em start a fire yet?

trusted computing (1)

Prowl (554277) | more than 12 years ago | (#3293615)

microsoft already released a critical update to fix this.

Giant bugs from California? (2, Informative)

quantaman (517394) | more than 12 years ago | (#3294001)

Somehow I'm forced to wonder if this 13 inch bug isn't native to California. In order to be a species it needs something to mate with and if people havn't been seeing 13 inch bugs before I would think that other bugs might have the same problem. In other words this isn't a species from around here. I suspect this species probably originates from some jungle and this one just escaped from its cage. Either that or its the vangaurd of a massive Alien invasion and soon legions of these are going to overwhelming our species. Alien invasion or South American pet? Take your pick.

Re:Giant bugs from California? (2)

jheinen (82399) | more than 12 years ago | (#3294288)

Read the article again. It's a 3-inch bug, not 13.

I'd have a really hard time believing any 13-inch long critter has gone undiscovered in Southern California.

Re:Giant bugs from California? (2)

quantaman (517394) | more than 12 years ago | (#3294311)

Oops! Errr... Ummm... Well it's still pretty #!#?@%^42 big!!

Re:Giant bugs from California? (2)

Schwarzchild (225794) | more than 12 years ago | (#3302141)

Yeah 3" is huge! Imagine a group of them!?! Yikes!

Re:Giant bugs from California? (1)

hij (552932) | more than 12 years ago | (#3295058)

I'd have a really hard time believing any 13-inch long critter has gone undiscovered in Southern California.

I'm assuming that you are excluding Hollywood of course.

As for the article... eeeyu! A bug big enough to feed a coyote, that's a bit much. They ought to have leash laws for these crickets. Imagine if they grew into large populations like mormom crickets? []

Natives know about this already (2)

marcsiry (38594) | more than 12 years ago | (#3294785)

My wife caught one a couple of years ago and kept it in a jar to prove to me they exist (I had been reluctant to believe that such a monster was real).

She calls it a "potato bug," and they're relatively common in the desert valley she grew up in.

As a New Yorker, I had seen my share of giant waterbugs, but this took the cake. It's the hideous proportions of the bug, and it's languid movements, that make it so creepy- almost as if it knows it doesn't have to be scared of anything.

(Except coyotes, apparently, and curious SoCal residents with jars).

Re:Natives know about this already (1)

nucal (561664) | more than 12 years ago | (#3295075)

all that - and I can't for the life of me figure out which end is the head from the photo.

Atomic Mutations (1)

C R Johnson (141) | more than 12 years ago | (#3295591)

Egads! Giant mutant silk spinning wingless crickets, in southern California... Just across the border from the Nevada test site.

The department of energy has not commented.

Strange Food? (1)

nullard (541520) | more than 12 years ago | (#3296266)

How long till somone starts putting these bugs in lollipops [] or serving then with ketchup?

It's a 1st april fake... only late (1)

WetCat (558132) | more than 12 years ago | (#3297249)

If you see the photo, it's actually two cut back parts of
cockroaches, glued together.

Black cockroaches can be 5 santimeters in length.
And it's not a news.

Actually, the reason why insects can not be huge,
lies in their means of breathing. They breath through pores in
their skin and have no lungs. So their dimensions are limited by
their ineffective breathing. The more oxygen in athmosphere,
the larger insects can be.

Re:It's a 1st april fake... only late (1)

Alexander Poquet (554012) | more than 12 years ago | (#3301497)

This actually isn't entirely true. Having an oxygen rich atmosphere is not sufficient; the atmosphere must also be humid and hot. Primarily, this is required because (as the parent post pointed out) their circulatory system is comprised of oxygen carrying trachea rather than blood carrying arteries and veins; as a result, the oxygen must pass directly through the tracheal membranes into the cells behind them.

This doesn't happen easily unless the air is humid, rather for the same reason our lungs (which transfer oxygen to the blood in a similar manner) must be moist. This is why we so often see monstrous bugs in humid (tropical) areas, and less so in deserts.

The moisture is much more important than the oxygen. Consider the monster millipede Arthropleuridea [] , which, during the Silurian Era, grew in excess of two meters. During that era -- some 55 million years before the apperance of the dinosaurs, over 300 million years ago -- Earth's atmosphere was far less oxygen-rich than it is now; yet many grotesquely large insects existed at that time -- many more than today. The atmosphere was also hot and tropical, and the excess humidity allowed these insects to flourish.

Re:It's a 1st april fake... only late (1)

WetCat (558132) | more than 12 years ago | (#3301549)

During that era -- some 55 million years before the apperance of the dinosaurs, over 300 million years ago -- Earth's atmosphere was far less oxygen-rich than it is now; yet many grotesquely large insects existed at that time -- many more than today.
I heard about absolutely different data
about oxygen content. We now living in
much less oxygen content than before
A paper presented at the 1993 meeting of the Geological Society of America introduced a new theory that the percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere some 120 million years ago (Early Cretaceous) diminished significantly over a period of .5 million years. The percentage of oxygen measured in air trapped in amber went from a high of 35 percent to a low of 28 percent.
Quote is from here: gstudy.html

Re:It's a 1st april fake... only late (1)

srand (236743) | more than 12 years ago | (#3302129)

Oh God how I wish that was true...

I live in So Cal and I've actually seen these hideous invaders from outer space flopping around on my patio. All I've got to say is thank god for massive exoskeletons....they're really slow and stupid and harmless. But it's awfully hard to get over the visceral fear that runs through me everytime I see one of the bastards.

Re:It's a 1st april fake... only late (1)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 12 years ago | (#3309617)

I know that dragonflies have lungs...

MiB (1)

BerserkDog (514729) | more than 12 years ago | (#3297529)

Maybe they're just looking for an "Edgar" suit...

3rd grade (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3297786)

An f'ing Potato Bug! I saw these monsters during my childhood in the early 70's in Santa Monica, CA. These were the same size as pictured but sand colored. Later on I tried to describe them to friends with laughter being the result. Giant bugs! Ha ha!

Now I get the last laugh!

These bugs are small compared to my PEN15! (-1, Offtopic)

PEN15 (571763) | more than 12 years ago | (#3298657)

Typically my penis ranges between 8 and 14 inches, depending on whether or not it's hard. The scientific name for my penis, according to insectologists in California, is dickus extremus. Unfortunately I was already on the record so it's not a new discovery.

Re:These bugs are small compared to my PEN15! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3299579)

You sound like a total dick.

query (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3299561)

Many sand fleas along the west coast? How big do they get? I used to dig for them along the beach as a kid. Those boogers got pretty big. Fast, too.

One of these bugs crawled into my bed (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#3299654)

I awoke feeling something on my head and I quickly swept my arm on the sheets to brush it away. Since I was still half asleep, and I didn't think I swept anything I figured it was just a dream.

My girlfriend awoke from my sudden movement and armsweep and immediately screamed and brushed something off of her neck. I guess I did sweep it away, right onto her!

After turning on the lights I discovered one of these "Jerusalem Bugs" which a room mate identified as a "potato bug". Apparently they like to crawl in bed with you.

I crushed the little bugger with a heavy iron box I had lying around as I had no coyotes handy. Little did I know I was impeding science.

Saw 'em a few summers ago (2)

mughi (32874) | more than 12 years ago | (#3301909)

A few summers ago we had a few show up in the house we were renting in Costa Mesa. They didn't really move, and died pretty quickly (whew), but I had to try to track down what they really were to help my wife relax.

I remember calling them "patato bugs" as a kid, but couldn't find that on the web (aside from real patato bugs [] . After an evening of searching I finally found that they were really "Jerusalem Crickets [] ".

I had hoped that there was at least somewhere online (college entomology department, etc.) that I could use to identify the bugs, but no dice. Then I checked to see if there was any place that would like to hear about them. Again, no dice. It seems a shame that the scientists out there aren't taking advantage of the Internet.

bugger (1)

BOFH_org (571193) | more than 12 years ago | (#3302641)

I'd say, if bugs start evolving in the region of Silicon Valley, especially watch out for the Grid Bug !

have a nice day
-- Nethack Ueber Alles --

New orders or insects.... (1)

shpoffo (114124) | more than 12 years ago | (#3302726)

I find it interesting given this" [] story as well that there is an 'outbreak' of new insect discoveries. What's next, plagues of locusts.....

just doing my job as a biological filter

Satan's spawn (3, Informative)

trailerparkcassanova (469342) | more than 12 years ago | (#3302769)

There's nothing new here as these are known as Potato Bugs. They're also the most repulsive and disgusting creatures on the planet. Checkout

Mod this parent up! (2)

Mustang Matt (133426) | more than 12 years ago | (#3304281)

Those things are nasty!

It's a Potato Bug (1)

X86Daddy (446356) | more than 12 years ago | (#3317932)

I grew up in Long Beach, CA, and the picture at CNN is what we used to call a "Potato Bug"... that's not the correct latin, but this is not a NEW, Improved, ribbed for her revulsion sort of critter.

Seriously though, we're realizing one observed animal is multiple species pretty frequently lately... whales of course, elephants a few months ago... I was hoping this was something from the dark realm of Monsanto. :-D

New ORDER of Insects Discovered in Africa (1)

Cy Guy (56083) | more than 12 years ago | (#3373312)

Danish and German researchers have published a study in today's issue of Science announcing the discovery of a new Order of insects. This is the new Order of Insects discovered in almost ninety years [] .

The Order shows similarities to stick insects, and to crickets. But only three individual speicimens have been found each representing a different new species.

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