html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Longbody, DO NOT LOOK.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Longbody, DO NOT LOOK.

Next time I go for a walk with Margie I will NOT agree to walk her to the far entrance. She will only start an argument over which is more disgusting, cockroaches or POTATO BUGS, which is the stupidest argument a person could have. Because, yeah sure, cockroaches are unpleasant, but they are basically built on the beetle platform which is not inherently aversive, since very cute and helpful bugs like ladybugs also look like beetles. If cockroaches were green and gold and iridescent we wouldn't mind them. But POTATO BUGS. Oh god. There aren't enough horrific words for potato bugs. They may be the only creech that gives me the shaking heebie-geebies. The worst part is that they are equally awful dead or alive. Alive they move too slow and are translucent so you can see their innards and dead they just sink to the bottom of your pool, contaminating the whole water until your Dad fishes them out and chases you with them.

These people understand. The linked page is safe, but after that you'll be sorry.


Anonymous bill said...

In my circle the debate usually involves earwigs versus silverfish. [shudder]

3:45 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Silverfish? Those are just cool little fossils running around. I don't like earwigs or anything, but I got pretty used to them, 'cause they like irrigation driplines.

Neither come anywhere close to the malevolence of potato bugs.

3:49 PM  
Anonymous redfoxtailshrub said...

That's weird -- the bugs in the linked site aren't what I think of as potato bugs. For me, "potato bugs" have always been the critters also known as pill bugs or roly-polys (roly-polies?). Your potato bugs are certainly much less appealing.

3:51 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I've read roly-polies called pill bugs. And I've heard potato bugs called Mormon crickets. But no matter the name, there is only one creature with that awful potato bug essence. They're worse in real life. I'm sorry you had to see that picture.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous sealion said... Utah, potato bugs are pillbugs/roly-polies, Mormon crickets are, well, Mormon crickets--not true crickets, but a lot more cricket-like than Jerusalem crickets--which is what we called those things.

I remember catching one in a neighbor's backyard when I was seven or eight. I had no idea insects got that big. I was convinced then and am convinced now that it's among the weirdest and most sinister looking critters in the green earth.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Would you say they are FAR WORSE THAN COCKROACHES?

4:19 PM  
Anonymous sealion said...

Oh yeah.

Although the tendency of cockroaches to roam in herds tends to make up the difference somewhat. One cockroach is mildly off-putting. Fifty, on the other hand...

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cockroaches are much worse, because of the way they *scuttle*. Plus they crunch when you step on them. Horrible.


4:50 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

You are wrong. Have you encountered a potato bug in person?

5:02 PM  
Anonymous sealion said...

I always found the cockroach crunch rather pleasing, myself.

If you think these remarks indicate I've had way too much cockroach experience, you're absolutely right. It was living in Venezuela that did it.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...

Gaahhh. Silverfish are the WORST OF ALL.

I also associate "potato bug" with pill bugs, and I don't believe I've ever seen one of those other ones (as pictured on that potato bug link) in real life. Where do they live?

5:37 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

You just brought back a memory from college (UC Santa Barbara). A guy from not-California came running into my dorm room:

"I just saw the totally scariest freaky creature!!!"

"What did it look like?"

"A cross alien ant and a human fetus!"

5:56 PM  
Blogger Megan said...


If you haven't seen one in real life, you haven't seen the worst of all. They're around in CA - I've seen them in LA and Tahoe and here. They live a little bit underground.


Your friend nailed it exactly, except for the disgusting translucence, which makes it all worse.

6:39 PM  
Anonymous redfoxtailshrib said...

Pill bugs, meanwhile, are kind of awesome and prehistoric.

6:52 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Yes, pill bugs are awesome. As a kid, I'd sit and watch them for vast swaths of time.

I also tried to coin the word "armadillopede," but it never took.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous quirkybook said...

Shudder. I agree -- unless you have seen a potato bug/Jerusalem cricket/niƱo de la tierra in person, you can be NO JUDGE in this contest.

All three of my housemates and I are from the Northeast (you know, where the bugs are small, the water plentiful, and manna falls from the heavens), and we fuh-REEAKED when we saw the first one crawling around our living room. I'm ashamed to admit it, but we engaged in wanton murder that time -- we sprayed ant killer at it till it stopped moving. (I can't imagine reliving that death will be very pleasant.) After learning that they are not venomous, we became brave enough to sweep them out the door unharmed.

Again -- shudder.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Dennis said...

"armadillopede"? Oh hell yeah, consider that caught-on!

In DC we encountered house centipedes:
They are startlingly big, and fast, a run with a hypnotizing wavy rippling motion. *shudder* Supposedly harmless, except for the hypnotizing part I guess.

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pfft, you don't have bugs here in California. I think I've seen 4 the whole time I've lived here. It keeps me wondering what my pet spiders are feeding on.

I almost never have to clean my windshield. And when I do, it's very rarely got bugs on it.


10:50 PM  
Blogger Dennis said...

Good god Megan! I can't believe how irresponsible you are! You linked people to a page talking about how heinous the potato bug is, leading everyone to (of course) click on that picture page. But didn't you notice that some shameless person took a picture of a potato bug on a life-like manequin's hand?? Now, people who have never seen one before, or heaven forbid a child (think of the children!!) are going to think it's safe to HANDLE a potato bug! Only an insaniac with a death wish would ever actuall pick UP a potato bug! YAK!

Someone may say, "I don't know, that hand looks pretty real. How do you know it is fake?"

I have to ask, dear questioner, have you SEEN a potato bug in person? Nobody picks them up with bare hands.

11:07 PM  
Blogger Spungen said...

So now I know. Now I know what that freaky, half-smashed creature was in our driveway that I couldn't get my dad to come look at when I was seven. I remember saying, "It's like a little squashy hand, with a big head." By the next day it was rubbed away. I was furious when he suggested maybe it was a cricket.

I saw one dead on a sidewalk a few months later. Again, it was gone by the time I could bring someone back to look at it. I suspected a conspiracy. The head just seemed too huge and round to be an Earth insect. And, yes Mark, I did notice the fetal resemblance.

It's the large head that really gives them the edge in repulsiveness. I think earwigs are freaky mainly because of the (hopefully) myth that they target our inner ears for roosting.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Megan said...


Potato bugs are exempt from the laws of the earth, by their sheer wrongness. They don't get counted against your total.


You can't really think I've looked at those pictures. I've encountered potato bugs in real life and need never see one again.


It's the large head, and the translucence and the juiciness and the WRONGNESS and the HORROR.

11:49 PM  
Anonymous Mitch said...

When I was a kid I totally wanted to have a roly-poly as a pet, but my mom would never let me take one home.

12:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, I'm starting to suspect I've never actually seen one of these things. And now I'm scared. Thanks a lot, folks.


12:20 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Earwigs? Cockroaches? Armadillopedes? Silverfish!?!? Are you people fucking kidding? When I was in the second grade a potato bug tried to rape my dog and kill my whole family. We dropped a peanut butter jar over it, but our genius plan ended there. What do you do after that? I was in the second grade 30 years ago and that potato bug is still there. Under the peanut butter jar.


5:07 AM  
Blogger fasolamatt said...

Reason #451 to live on the frozen tundra of Minnesota: no potato bugs.

5:37 AM  
Anonymous Thelonious_Nick said...

I can't recall ever seeing a potato bug, but if the only problem people have with them is that they're ugly, that's just bigotry.

Silverfish are clearly the worst, because they eat your books, and thus, potentially, your comic books. I'm not too fond of house centipedes (never knew what they were called before now) but I must admit I'm feeling a little less antipathy towards them after reading the following on Wikipedia:

"House centipedes feed on spiders, bedbugs, termites, cockroaches, silverfish and other household pests."

Sounds like they might actually be good to keep around. But then there's this bit: "The house centipede is capable of biting a human...some pain and a slight swelling at the location of the bite."

7:19 AM  
Blogger Louis said...

Wow, those are evil looking.

7:40 AM  
Blogger Megan said...


They aren't just ugly, they're big and they're WRONG.


You guys abandoned that house, right?

9:11 AM  
Blogger Dennis said...

I hate to do this to you spungen, but I no longer believe that earwigs in ears are a myth.

My friend Erik (an actual friend, not one of those mythical "my cousin's friend" people) woke up one morning and he couldn't hear well out of one ear. He read the front page with a cup of coffee, and then got in the shower. As he washed his hair, with his head under the water, the stuffed up ear started to squirm and wiggle. An earwig dropped to the floor of the shower and he could hear perfectly fine now. (He won't admit it, but I imagine what he heard, with perfect clarity, was himiself screaming like a little girl!)

If necessary, I'll get Erik on here to confirm this awful tale. Unless you'd all rather believe it is an urban myth.

Thankfully, a potato bug can't fit in your ear. They're like the size of your fist.

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Mr. Huston said...

No way!!! Potato bugs are pussy...they usually just stay out our way underground.

EARWIGS...have that name for a reason...AND...I know someone who woke up one morning with something moving around in his ear.

9:33 AM  
Anonymous justus said...

When I lived in the Central Valley -- where the only thing between Reedley and Lemoore are 40 miles of crops (along with the occasional ranch that runs high power stadium lighting 24 hours a day) I had to wash my windshield and front grille about every three days to scrape off the bugs. Driving on 41 was a visceral experience with the constant thudding of bugs exploding on your windshield.

I can assure you, there are bugs in California.

Potato bugs are pretty nasty. When I was in New Zealand I discovered that they have family of bugs called "weta" that are just as bad. Apparently "weta" comes from the Maori for "god of ugly things". I only ever saw cave wetas but apparently there are also "giant wetas" are among the largest insects in the world and can weigh more than a sparrow.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Capella said...

Megan, this is the worst thread ever. Just reading the comments grosses me out.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Sorry Capella. Sometimes the world is ugly. And then, all of that ugliness is gathered up and concentrated into potato bugs.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Huston! Who was that who woke up with something wiggling in his ear? And was it an earwig??? You left us in suspense!
Arin has a potato bug in a pot in his kitchen (unless he moved it, I didn't check last night). Clearly, you should avoid his house because you now have the advantage of knowing there's a potato bug there.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

I haven't seen Arin in a good long time, but now I'll be avoiding his entire block.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Erik said...

I'm dennis' friend Erik. Yes, I've had the, umm, memorable experience of having an earwig in my ear. It was not pleasant. I'm just glad it decided to leave on its own accourd before i really knew exactly what was going on. But the shower did seem to do the trick if any of you ever feel something strange crawling around inside your head...

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're not fooling me. I've driven from San Francisco to Las Vegas and back twice, from SF to Tahoe/Sac bunches of times, from SF to Mt. Lassen a couple times, and SF to Yosemite once.

Sure, I hit some bugs on the way, but still nothing like in the midwest.


11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jerusalem crickets (aka potato bugs) despite their name are natives of California and hence preferable to the cockroaches which are alien. Well there are native cockroaches but the ones you encounter are most likely to be alien. I admit that seeing one is likely to make you think there has been a failure of the CDFA exterior program.


12:35 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

No. Seeing a potato bug makes you feel like there has been a failure of all that is good and kind in the universe.

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone here woken up in the morning and tried to pour themselves a bowl of corn flakes, but poured a bowl of potato bugs instead?


then I vote for cockroaches.


1:25 PM  
Blogger Megan said...


Have you actually been in the presence of a potato bug? 'Cause everyone who has, except that freak Mr. Huston, agrees that they're way worse than anything else anywhere ever.

2:29 PM  
Blogger Spungen said...

So now I know I wasn't a crazy child -- the squashy hands with heads and bee bodies really do exist. But perhaps better to be crazy ...

I could be persuaded to eat a cockroach, properly prepared. In many countries they're considered tasty. If given a choice between a p-bug and my little toe, I'd have to flip a coin.

11:53 PM  
Blogger lil miss dubin said...

i just barfed a little bit in my mouth.

11:21 AM  
Blogger Cladeedah said...

I know where I'm getting your next birthday e-card. Those are freakin' awesome!

11:51 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Send it to someone else, pretty lady.

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

when my husband was a kid, he grew up with "children of the earth." he and his brother used to get a jar full of ants, and then put a potato bug inside, to see who would win. apparently the ants always won.
they look pretty gross to me, but i've never seen one, and he says they're cool.

9:46 PM  

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