Educate yourself about Satan's fetus.
March 19, 2005 11:22 AM   Subscribe

Potato bugs. The most universally feared, hated and disgusting creatures on the planet.
posted by slackdog (71 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Neither as feared nor as culinarily versatile (warning: PDF) as the cicada.

Even so, interesting site.
posted by casu marzu at 11:29 AM on March 19, 2005

Potato bugs are truly disgusting.

My grandfather grew his own vegetables in Toronto during the Depression and potato bugs were a real problem. There was a famous advertising scam which promised a solution that, for $.25, would absolutely guarantee the death of the bug. After the "four to six weeks to fill your order", people started getting their solutions in the mail: two small blocks of wood, one of which was marked with an "x" for the bug...

Another scam in those years was the sale of tinned tuna for prices higher than salmon. The advertising slogan was "guaranteed not to turn pink in the can."
posted by at 11:32 AM on March 19, 2005

Pointless personal comment: When I was a kid and we moved into our first house, the neighborhood was new and everyone had piles of sand on their driveways for use in leveling the lawns. Inevitably, that meant after rain there was a layer of sand about an inch deep lining the edges of the streets, pretty much all throughout the neighborhood, and after a few days you would see these lines zigzagging crazily through the crust of the dried sand, indicating where potato bugs had dug a long tunnel right under the surface. For a little kid, that's pretty much distilled coolness, so even as an adult, I can't understand what there is to fear, hate, or be disgusted about those cool l'il bugs.
posted by Bugbread at 11:35 AM on March 19, 2005 hmmm
posted by senor biggles at 11:37 AM on March 19, 2005 hmmm

Good catch, senor. For the record, my grandfather never bought the tuna or the potato bug solution. ;-)
posted by at 11:39 AM on March 19, 2005

Ok, I've been calling some insect by the wrong name all my life then. What's the name of the little critters that roll up into a tight ball when you prod them?
posted by jikel_morten at 11:40 AM on March 19, 2005

jikel_morten: liberal voters
posted by Busithoth at 11:45 AM on March 19, 2005

What's the name of the little critters that roll up into a tight ball when you prod them?

Those are called sow bugs.
posted by at 11:46 AM on March 19, 2005

Rolly Pollies
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:53 AM on March 19, 2005

Ah, thanks for the link b1tr0t... I never knew what these things were called! My life is now whole ;).
posted by freakystyley at 11:53 AM on March 19, 2005

Rolly Pollies
Wulfgar!, if it's not too personal, where are you from? I'm from Texas and my family has always called those bugs "rolly pollies", but I almost never hear other people call them that.
posted by Sangermaine at 11:58 AM on March 19, 2005

In my neck of the woods, we called pillbugs "doodlebugs", but Google Image Search seems to show that term is much more commonly used to refer to antlions.

On preview: oh, yeah, and "rolly pollies". Forgot about that.
posted by Bugbread at 12:01 PM on March 19, 2005

The most universally feared, hated and disgusting creatures on the planet.
Yeah, but Neocons came made the top ten.
Thank you Busithoth for opening up this thread to political snarkery
posted by wendell at 12:01 PM on March 19, 2005

I'm from Georgia, and we've always called them Rolly Pollies. Guess it's a southern thing. :)
posted by bwilliams at 12:05 PM on March 19, 2005

They're roly-polies in Michigan too. But when I moved to Pittsburgh and called 'em that, nobody knew what I was talking about.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:08 PM on March 19, 2005

Rolly pollies and doodlebugs in Southeast Texas (I realize I didn't give my regional affiliation above)
posted by Bugbread at 12:18 PM on March 19, 2005

Sow bugs in California -- but I always thought it was "sal bugs." Guess I always thought they were named after some guy named Sal.
posted by slackdog at 12:21 PM on March 19, 2005

Sangermaine, we called them that when I was a wee little lad in Colorado. We don't have nearly as many here in Montana, where I grew up and live to this day, but I still call them rolly pollies.
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:26 PM on March 19, 2005

Rollie-pollies in western Florida. And I've never seen a potato bug, but they look freakin' gross.
posted by logovisual at 12:30 PM on March 19, 2005

nebulawindphone: I'm in Michigan and I say they're pillbugs, damnit. You sound like yer speakin' some kinda Ohian or something. God, I hate Ohio. WE WILL NEVER FORGET!

BTW- That second link is so totally a mole cricket.

Anybody remember that map that showed pillbug sowbug roly-poly distribution weights throughout the u.s.? Try as I might, I can't dig it up.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:31 PM on March 19, 2005

We called those things potato bugs and doodlebugs in New Jersey. But my parents are from South Carolina, so I'm never sure if I got my words from them or from everybody else I grew up with.

I'd never seen an actual pototo bug until I clicked on the link above.
posted by LiliaNic at 12:35 PM on March 19, 2005

But now back to potato bugs.

My potato bug story: I am red-green colorblind. I was at home in my one-bedroom apartment one evening back in 1993, naked in my armchair as I am wont to do when unobserved, and had just indulged in a large helping of reefer. The music came to an end and I decided to visit the bathroom.

Cutting through the hallway "kitchen", by the stove I saw the most horrendous, evil, jelly-like FIRE ENGINE RED insect of death that could ever plague a man's peaceful marijuana-enhanced evening. I was filled with terror and, being naked, could not squash it with a jackboot. I almost got physically ill with terror, but I also really, really had to go to the bathroom. I had to turn my back on the monstrosity and just fervently prayed it would be in the same place when I got back. While peeing I had visions of jelly-like red insects -- RED! -- invading my house through the floor. That was no fun at all.

After scampering to the bedroom and dropping a 20-pound box of books on the thing, I discovered that drugs and colorblindness had cast a veil of terror over a normal, green, shiny, non-jelly-like potato bug. I found this out by putting the carcass in a plastic bag and asking all my friends and family, "What the hell IS this?"

That is all.
posted by sninky-chan at 12:35 PM on March 19, 2005

Gah! Found it!

Found this too.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:38 PM on March 19, 2005

Baby_Balrog : " BTW- That second link is so totally a mole cricket"

Dang!! Now that you point that out, I realize that my story of potato bugs when I was a kid was wrong. They were mole crickets!
posted by Bugbread at 12:42 PM on March 19, 2005

Yes, I'm afraid you are all quite wrong. Including the website. and their friends.

THIS is a potato bug. I know, because my grandma used to give my sister and I a penny for each one of the little bastards we squashed.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 12:44 PM on March 19, 2005

Wow. That's hard to believe, Baby_Balrog. How can potato bugs be red? And yet... I've heard the name "Jerusalem cricket" many times. I guess I and my friends and family thought it was synonymous with "potato bug".

Interesting that the first five links of a Google image search show the Jerusalem/mole cricket... obviously a common confusion. And this site mentions that in California (where I'm from) the Jerusalem cricket is often called a potato bug. Actually, Wikipedia seems to have a good synthesis of information about all this.
posted by sninky-chan at 12:58 PM on March 19, 2005

roly polies, doodle bugs: i always called them armadillo bugs when i was growing up ... i swear i wasn't the only one ... i'm from michigan
posted by pyramid termite at 1:09 PM on March 19, 2005

Baby_Balrog, I've been rocking that debate for a long time. I just returned from Los Angeles after 4 years at UCLA and never once did saying "pop" fail to elicit laughter and mocking. I didn't receive the same level of enmity over potato bug/roly-poly but the divide was clearly there.

Am I the only one here who has never heard anyone ever say "doodle bug"?
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:11 PM on March 19, 2005

Yeargh, I can't stop. Looks like there's the potato bug, aka Jerusalem cricket (Stenopelmatus coahuilensis, related to actual crickets). Then there's the (Colorado) potato beetle (Leptinotarsa decemlineata), which seems to bear both the "bug" and "beetle" names.

Maybe I'm done now.
posted by sninky-chan at 1:11 PM on March 19, 2005

Jerusalem Cricket is the generally accepted common name for what the post refers to as a "potato bug." I never had Jerusalem Crickets where I grew up, so "potato bug" to me meant a roly poly.
posted by borkingchikapa at 1:16 PM on March 19, 2005

I, for one, have heard someone say "doodle bug" before.
If not laughter, a pregnant pause would ensue.
posted by Busithoth at 1:16 PM on March 19, 2005

Hmm, that dialect page reveals some interesting things...
Kitty Corner
Pop vs Soda addendum

Now, what I really want to see is a breakdown of wallball and 4-square rules by state...
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:23 PM on March 19, 2005

People, listen to me. We must establish some semblance of order if this highly constructive discussion is to continue.
Let's go over what we know:

1. In the State of Michigan, the small bugs that are gray and role up are referred to as pillbugs. If, by some cruel twist of fate, you are from Michigan and you find yourself within the territory of Ohio, you may say roly-poly to prevent the savage Ohians from eating you, as they are wont to do.

2. If you live in the Midwest, it is pop. It is pop because soda conjures up images of baking soda, which is bad. It is pop because when you put your ear to an open can of Sprite it goes "pop, pop, pop." We don't call the Whippoorwill the "smallish brown bird of prey."

3. The damn things pictured in these links are mole crickets, or Jerusalem crickets (though I take exception to that term and its probably questionable origins). Potato bugs are a whole different type of thing.

4. This bug scares the flaming b'jesus out of me.

5. God shaped Michigan like a big hand, perfect for slapping the shit out of Ohio.

BTW- My antipathy for Ohio has nothing to do with the recent election results. When the tv people said that "It's all come down to Ohio!" I sort of just nodded and looked at my shoes.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:29 PM on March 19, 2005

Baby_Balrog - jesus christ on a pogo stick! #4 there scared the crap out of me! i saw one of those things run up the wall at my old apartment once. you don't ever EVER want to know what it feels like to be taking a shower and see one of those things crawl up the wall right in front of you. p.s. sorry for bringing jesus into all this.
posted by slackdog at 1:36 PM on March 19, 2005

It's ok. Just yesterday jesus told me he loves everything except for that bug. One time I was at a bar and I saw one crawl out of the wall and into a girl's hair! OMFG!!!!!!11!! I wanted to scream out, "LADY! You have a farking abomination in your hair!" but I couldn't. Because then I'd have to go over there and get the damn thing out. Plus, sometimes its better if people just don't know some stuff. Like when there is a praying mantis on the back of their shirt. Much better to say, "Ahmithab, you've got a twig stuck on your shirt there, I'll get it off for you." instead of, "JESUS FU - OH MY GOD. Ahmithab, you've got a giant slavering monster of a praying mantis on your - oh my God I think it escaped from the zoo - IT IS MOVING TOWARD YOUR HEAD."
posted by Baby_Balrog at 1:51 PM on March 19, 2005

You've all forgotten all about camel spiders haven't you?

Which, of course, means that the terrorists have already won.

You damned liberals! *runs ... from the camel spiders*
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:10 PM on March 19, 2005

Top 5 hottest things to say to your mate before devouring him/her/it:
5. I love the way the moon shines all the way through your transparent, nightmarishly proportioned body.
4. Hungry? Wait here, I'll go roll up some dung.
3. #I've got yoooooou under my exoskeleton.
2. (Clicking noise)
1. Bite me. Harder!

Let's make this a tradition.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:11 PM on March 19, 2005

Baby_Balrog - Just when I thought I'd repressed the memory of the time the giant centipede ran out of the kitchen cabinet and straight at my head when I went to get a cereal bowl, you had to go post that picture (it was later found, stepped on, and left in the middle of the kitchen floor to serve as a warning to others).
posted by chickygrrl at 2:21 PM on March 19, 2005

i have just one word.... earwig......

paaah on your potato bugs... earwigs eat your brain......

and, in michigan it has always been pill bug for me!
posted by HuronBob at 2:38 PM on March 19, 2005

Where I grew up (central California), the bugs linked above were called "Potato Bugs", and the little "ballish" grey guys were called "Rollie-Pollies". Correct or not to the official terms, I just thought I'd add the info.

That said, I have a VIVID Potato Bug memory from when I was about 6... I was digging in the dirt of the open field next to my grandparents house, when my hands "broke" into a hollow in the ground. When I pulled the dirt back, about 4 of these bugs came scurrying out toward my hands... I ran as fast as I could back to the house, shuddering and flailing off the evil essence that had escaped from that miniature tomb.

"Potato Bugs" or "Jerusalem Crickets", they still give me MAJOR heebs.

Nice to know after all these years that I'm not alone in the feeling.
posted by numlok at 2:56 PM on March 19, 2005

Baby_Balrog, I'll have you know that I actually scrolled over that link to see if the URL included he dreaded centipede. I...just knew it...somehow...

The head of the Buffalo Zoo is an entomologist (or did she work for an entomologist in grad school...?). Either way, she knows a lot about bogs. I asked her what her least favorite bug was, and her answer was indeed the dreaded centipede. This is a woman who ostensibly likes bugs, a lot, and she hates centipedes.

I also remember an article in the NYT about two entomologists who had discovered two or three new kinds of centipedes in Central Park. They were centipede-specialist entomologists, and they thought centipedes were vicious and disgusting.

I need to go have a stiff drink, now. Just thinking about centipedes makes me want to cry and hide.
posted by oflinkey at 3:19 PM on March 19, 2005

they have a LOT of centipedes in ohio ... it serves them right
posted by pyramid termite at 3:33 PM on March 19, 2005

For Chrissakes, IT'S CATERCORNER! And sow bug. But potato bugs/Jerusalem crickets are awesome and I'll be training an army of them to attack people who think kitty-corner is anywhere near acceptable.
posted by dame at 3:35 PM on March 19, 2005

In NZ we call pill bugs / sow bugs / etc. slaters. Also people wear shoes on their heads and hamburgers eat people.
posted by Paragon at 3:43 PM on March 19, 2005

When I was a youth in Northern California, lo these many years ago, I was doing an insect collection for school. One night I caught a honeybee and what I thought was a potato bug... I gather it is actually a Jersualem Cricket. (it's not a mole cricket... but rather one of these.)

I put them in a jar, punched the normal air holes, and left them overnight ... I was going to take them to school the next day.

When I checked the jar in the morning, there was no sign of the bee, and I swear the "potato bug" was smiling.

Nassssty critters. Yuck, yuck, yuck! Just watching one move is enough to give most people the heebie-jeebies. I'm fine with most insects, but I truly hate these things.
posted by Malor at 3:48 PM on March 19, 2005

Duh, I forgot to add.... there are a couple of different flavors of the pill-like bugs. There are ones that can truly roll up into a tight little pill... we called those pillbugs. And there are ones that look similar, but are flatter, and can't roll up into a ball. (I didn't understand this as a youth and tried to make a few of them into 'pills', with rather messy results.) We called those sowbugs.

Don't know if that's accurate or not, but that's what we called them.
posted by Malor at 3:51 PM on March 19, 2005

Ah, you're right Malor... I had forgotten about the "flatter" guys. I seem to remember finding them more under bricks and rocks and such, where the "rollie-pollies" would hang out in the open a bit more. I seem to remember the "flat" guys having more translucent bellies and legs as well (lighter in color at least).
Thanks for reminding me.
posted by numlok at 4:20 PM on March 19, 2005

Paragon, we call them slaters in Scotland as well. That might be where the New Zealand word comes from. (ie. woodlice/pillbugs)
posted by Flitcraft at 4:55 PM on March 19, 2005

Those pillbugs are slaters or woodlice in Ireland too.

Topic: I hated potato bugs when I lived in CA becuse they landed on you and clung on with their little claws, causing me to freak out and run around screaming getioffgetitoff much to the amusement of the locals. I didn't hate them as much as I hated finding tarantulas in my closet and scorpions crawling across the living room floor though. Or June bugs which are bright green scarab looking beetle things with all the grace and flying agility of a sofa and the density of granite. One flew crazedly into my forehead one day and nearly knocked me out.
posted by fshgrl at 5:06 PM on March 19, 2005

Michigan. Rolly Polly. And Kitty-Corner. People in Cincinnati seem confused by both these terms.

Also, the door that leads out to your deck? The one that slides (not the french doors, the one that slides)? That's a doorwall. That's right. A DOORWALL.
posted by dpx.mfx at 6:04 PM on March 19, 2005

Whilst looking up the names for woodlice, I found some fascinating stuff about them. They change sex and colour, emit ammonia gas, drink through their anuses and you can make sushi and scones out of them. Isaac Asimov put a load of them in his mouth as a little boy to see if they tickled when they walked on his tongue. The really giant ones live under the sea. I think a giant slater would be scarier than a potato bug.
posted by Flitcraft at 6:11 PM on March 19, 2005

From the BC Interior:

Hard grey rolling-up bugs: pillbugs.
Soft grey can't-quite-roll-up things: sowbugs.
Triangular green bugs: potato bugs, IIRC.
Triangular brown bugs, stink to high heaven: maple bugs or stink bugs.
Lots of legs: centipede.
Lots and lots and lots of legs: millipede.
Pincers out back: earwigs.
Hops and clicks and flies poorly: grasshoppers of various sorts.
Ungodly hoooje, evil, clicking, stabbing, poisonous, child-eating, six-legged winged demon from hell: a true waterbug. Ugh. Oh, god, ugh.

Never seen a JC, never want to.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:20 PM on March 19, 2005

Australia- I used to call them slaters but now I realise (pdf) that they are in fact, woodlice and referred to as pillbugs and even 'butcher-boys'. I am finding this thread to be most interesting. More insects from Australia, with a neat glossary of terms. Not to be forgetting the evil Parktown Prawn I encountered in South Africa. The ones I saw were black and shiny. And for some reason in my bed. Ew.
posted by bdave at 6:31 PM on March 19, 2005

I'm glad we all/mostly agree that this is in fact a "Jerusalem cricket" or "mole cricket" and not a "potato bug", which is a thing that I've heard of but I'm not really sure what it looks like.

This, however, is a centipede. You do NOT want to step on one with bare feet.
posted by yhbc at 6:45 PM on March 19, 2005

yhbc - if that's a centipede, what is #4 in Baby_Balrog's post? Anyone? Just another kind of centipede or something different?
posted by slackdog at 7:09 PM on March 19, 2005

Oh - forget it.
posted by slackdog at 7:12 PM on March 19, 2005

They're roly-polies in Michigan too.

Born and raised in the Detroit area, and I've never heard them called anything other than "sow bugs" and "water bugs."
posted by Oriole Adams at 7:17 PM on March 19, 2005

Gaaaah. I'm not going to sleep tonight.

Huh. Guess the potato bug I was thinking of is actually a green stink bug. Just an ordinary sort of bug, not plant-specific. Leathery green casing, not much beetle-like about it. Looks remarkably like a brown stink bug, but green...

Waterbugs are something entirely different than sow bugs. Whirligigs are little black watermelon-spit-sized bugs that go round-and-round-and-round-and-round-and-round-and-round-and-round in perpetual motion. Water striders ("skeeters") have long thin legs and skate across the surface. And there are endless subsurface water bugs.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:37 PM on March 19, 2005

Okay, bugs? Any bugs?
posted by oflinkey at 11:32 PM on March 19, 2005

ladybugs and aphids are cute. but otherwise, yeah.
posted by neckro23 at 11:39 PM on March 19, 2005

I've been bitten by ladybugs. I am not making this up.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:01 AM on March 20, 2005

dpx.mfx : " Also, the door that leads out to your deck? The one that slides (not the french doors, the one that slides)? That's a doorwall. That's right. A DOORWALL."

That's fucking awesome. I'm using that from now on.
posted by Bugbread at 4:09 AM on March 20, 2005

In Missouri we called pillbugs potato bugs. Never heard of the thing on this post. BTW, ROU, I think you're making it up And if you're not, what did you do to that poor ladybug to make it bite you?
posted by kozad at 6:50 AM on March 20, 2005

From my own childhood in England, with a Scottish grandmother and Australian grandfather:

We called woodlice either woodlice or slaters. I never knew slater was a Scottish dialect word until now - I thought my grandmother was merely slighting her neighbors of the same name. There are indeed two types of woodlouse - the flattish ones that don't roll up (the common woodlouse, apparently) and the ones that roll completely up into a ball (the pill woodlouse). I thought pill woodlice were cool; I like to provoke them to roll up and then I'd roll them around gently on the paving stones. I always felt cheated if all I encountered was a common woodlouse (source)

I'm guessing the UK doesn't have centipedes as the US understands them because I didn't see my first one till I was living here. Newly married, we were living in a really nice apartment and suddenly one night we saw this thing scuttling across the carpet towards us. I think we both tried to hide under each other. I swear it looked like it was running backwards at high speed - I think because the front legs are shorter than the back ones. We killed it and the few others we would occasionally find.

There were certainly things we called centipedes (and millipedes) in the UK but I think in retrospect they must have all been millipedes.

Ah yes, the potato bug, and this indeed is cognate with what I recall having been identified as such in the UK. I only knew of potato bugs (or Colorado beetles as they were primarily called) because of a poster in the local post office (I kid you not) warning farmers to be on the lookout for them.

In the same place where we encountered the centipedes, we also once had a run-in with what I think may have been a dog-day cicada (not a 17-year cicada) - it was big, it was ugly, it flew clumsily around bumping into us and the few remaining guests from a summer BBQ, and it made the most godawful screeching noise. Still gives me shivers to think about it now. We had to drench the chandelier with Raid to get rid of it ...

One final story: we bought some knockoff Craftsman-style table lamps that were imported from China. One evening I was sitting watching TV (inna reefer-enhanced stylee) when suddenly the lampstand next to me started to buzz ... this naturally freaked me out a little, but that was nothing compared to the abject screaming horror of seeing whatever winged, buzzing nastiness was in the lamp - from China! - make its way out and attempt to find a place to lay its millions of eggs or whatever. I seem to recall looking for it and being unable to find it. Five years later on, I still haven't seen it or its kin again.
posted by kcds at 9:22 AM on March 20, 2005

ROU, I think you're making it up And if you're not, what did you do to that poor ladybug to make it bite you?

I am not making it up!

I didn't do anything to them.

It was on top of Emory Peak in SW Texas, and the place was *crawling* with them -- there were thousands and thousands of ladybugs everywhere, coating the underside of every branch with a solid layer of ladybugs; I assume they were trying to get away from the desert heat below the Chisos.

Apparently, when ladybugs are starving, as some of these were, they'll bite.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:19 AM on March 20, 2005

First off, Holy Cow. Here I am, bashing Ohio, and right under my nose we'd devoted an entire thread to this worthwhile pastime.

Oriole: Born and raised in the Detroit area, and I've never heard them called anything other than "sow bugs" and "water bugs."

By Detroit area, do you mean "Ohio"? Because, it's quite possible that the shame your parents felt in raising you in the buckeye state led them to convince you that Ohio is actually "the Detroit area." I've seen it before.

As for the whole ladybug issue, I've had an etymologist (entomologist? entymoligost? Bug person.) explain it to me this way: There are two kinds of ladybugs in the U.S. right now. One is the nice kind that doesn't bite, the other is actually from China and will bite the shit out of you. Some time ago, people started buying up ladybugs to put in their gardens, and someone had the bright idea of passing off these evil, bastard Chinese ladybugs as regular, good 'ol American-style democratic ladybugs. One thing led to another, and now we have masses upon red masses of these Chinese ladybugs swarming around, biting people.

So yes, there are ladybugs that bite. They are slightly elongated, not perfectly round, and slightly smaller. And communist.

Also: Apparently the house centipede that I linked to above is harmless to people and actually eats eviler insects like earwigs. Maybe we are being too harsh on the little Satanic abominations? Perhaps we should try to live in harmony with them. What say you?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 10:38 AM on March 20, 2005

Here in WI, we called your rolly pollies "Potato bugs" or "Pill Bugs" but my grandmother called them Sow Bugs. FWIW, Pill bugs are isopods, a type of crustacean, not an insect. They are very common in aquatic environments as well. Some are very evil parasites:

"About 15 years ago, I had a student who was holding in her clenched hand a 1.5 inch long Aegid. The bug cut through the flesh of her palm, dug in, and started to eat HER. Her vocal response was rather impressive. So was the tenacity of the isopod, it was HARD to remove!"

While others are harmless herbavores and detrivores.

On the subject of Centipedes, I have a very deep-seeded fear of them, but I blame it on learned behavior. One of my earliest memories is of my mother frantically screaming and jumping up and down "get it off me" when she discovered a centipede crawling on her. I can only assume somewhere in her early memories, her mother was also attacked by a centipede at some impressionable stage in her life.

Fortunately, I do have a mighty centipede warrior cat who enjoys removing their legs one by one, leaving the house mostly centipede free. Centipedes just aren't as scary with no legs.

And no, there is no living in harmony with centipedes. Regardless of scientific evidence, I suspect all centipedes would dine on your flesh given half a chance.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 12:32 PM on March 20, 2005

What's up with this fear of earwigs? I understand they're kinda nasty looking, but no more so than, say, big-ass spiders.
I was sitting at a table at an open cafe, waiting on a drink of rum.

When I asked my waiter for the time of day, he said, "Look out! That's a centipede coming you way!"

In Lahaina, the living is slow.
In Lahaina, the sugarcane grows.
In Lahaina, the mangos are sweet...

BUT the centipedes crawl all over your feet!"
posted by five fresh fish at 5:54 PM on March 20, 2005

Those Chinese ladybugs are used commercially too. They are the ones that swarm in the fall and infest your entire house. And bite.

Isopods are scary as hell but only when you know what they can do: they're not inherently creepy like centipedes or the stuff of nightmares like the camel spiders. What they can do is fairly impressive though. I've set fish traps (I'm a researcher) and gone out to pull them hours later and they were just full of cartoon fish skeletons and thousands of those big isopods.
posted by fshgrl at 3:07 AM on March 21, 2005

Those big isopods are the stuff of nightmares.

During a coastal hike, I wandered into a cavish sort of hollow in the rocks while the tide was out. It was all cool, looking at the mussels and barnacles and seaweed and stuff.

Then I made the mistake of looking up, and noticed the ceiling moving just a bit. Every square inch was covered in nightmarish isopodish creatures from the dawn of time. Major, major heebie-jeebies.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:54 AM on March 21, 2005

They're roly-polies in Michigan too. But when I moved to Pittsburgh and called 'em that, nobody knew what I was talking about.

Hmm.... according to the translator at, "roly-polies" is a
posted by kurumi at 10:17 AM on March 21, 2005

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