Giant bug attacks unwitting camper twice!
April 9, 2011 4:19 AM   Subscribe

What animal or insect in Georgia is likely to climb onto a sleeping camper twice in two nights?

Last night I woke up from feeling something clinging to my arm just below my shoulder. It was heavy enough that I could feel it through a tee shirt and a longsleeve flannel shirt, but it was "insecty" enough that it was hanging onto my arm the way a spider clings to a wall. I must have moved because it jumped off and ran off on my camp bed, making nine quick, distinct footsteps on my bed. The footsteps sounded the way a spider would run, not the way a mouse would run.

Tonight I finally convinced myself that whatever it was wouldn't come back to me and that it was an accident it climbed on me in the first place, but I woke up again with something on my neck, just near the collar of that flannel shirt. I bolted upright like they do in the movies and frantically brushed myself off in the general direction of the floor (I was on the middle bunk.)

A minute later I shone my phone light at the ground and I saw a black thing, about the size of a mouse, but scurrying quickly like a cockroach. It hid under someone's stuff, and I didn't see it again. It was low light from my phone so I didn't really see it, but it looked mouse sized and shaped, but it was clearly no mouse, it looked fuzzy in a light indicating many legs, and it didn't move like a mouse, it moved like a cockroach. And it was dark, perhaps black.

I heard it scurrying around after that for a few minutes before I gave up on sleeping for good.

Help me identify what this could be so that I may some day be able to sleep again.
posted by brenton to Science & Nature (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It could have been a water bug (an american cockroach). They get pretty big, are common in georgia, and will crawl on people with total disregard.
posted by Flood at 4:26 AM on April 9, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: yeah, I see them in my kitchen sometimes, they're a couple of inches long, and harmless. They're also known as palmetto bugs. I've never had one crawl on me, thankfully.
posted by mareli at 4:29 AM on April 9, 2011

Can you identify it from this line-up of suspects?
posted by jeanmari at 4:37 AM on April 9, 2011

Probably a giant cockroach. Its time for RAID
posted by zia at 5:41 AM on April 9, 2011

An opossum?
posted by fairmettle at 6:21 AM on April 9, 2011

An opossum?

No. That would be like having a cat on you. A very nasty and probably angry cat--not something you just brush off.
posted by BlooPen at 7:28 AM on April 9, 2011

Best answer: Yeah, sounds like a cockroach. I am in Georgia and see often see ones that are mouse-sized. Also, they can fly. ::shudder::
posted by southern_sky at 7:33 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

This article might have some useful insight.

More seriously, I've had chipmunks crawl over me when sleeping in lean-tos. But since you got a look at it, and you're someplace where they grow 'em large, it probably was something like a palmetto bug.
posted by mollweide at 8:05 AM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Vaejovis carolinianus?

Sleep tight!
posted by Sys Rq at 8:52 AM on April 9, 2011

Best answer: Scorpions aren't that fast. I'm going to agree with the waterbug hypothesis. I've seen ones of a size that would fit this description in urban Texas. Who knows what monsters lurk in the woods of Georgia.

They're harmless, though. And they don't give a fuck.
posted by cmoj at 10:45 AM on April 9, 2011

footsteps sounded the way a spider would run

You must have the best hearing in the world. I don't think I've ever heard a spider do anything.
posted by Ideefixe at 11:32 AM on April 9, 2011

Response by poster: >footsteps sounded the way a spider would run

You must have the best hearing in the world. I don't think I've ever heard a spider do anything.

Haha, maybe its what I imagine a LARGE spider would sound like. But the mattress was a perfect resonator so it sounded loud, I do believe I would have heard a spider.

I think it must have been a cockroach, the biggest one I've ever seen. A large nocturnal cuddly surprise bed-buddy. Ewww.
posted by brenton at 1:11 PM on April 9, 2011

Have you checked What's That Bug? They have a ton of photos and can answer bug identification questions. Of course, you have to be able to sift through the photos... a daunting task if you are insectophobic.

I'm not insectophobic, but your story even wigged me out. That thing had a purpose. Maybe it was an alien? :P
posted by evilcupcakes at 1:12 PM on April 9, 2011

Best answer: oooo a roach, a huge roach. One can actually hear them skitter. (((shudders)))) They are so big you can see their facial expressions. I am not kidding. And for all you folks referring to them as "water bugs" and "palmetto bugs," they are cockroaches. And they tend to hang around in the same place.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 1:43 PM on April 9, 2011

Ugh...totally agree it was probably a cockroach and you could not pay me enough money to click on the picture links above. One of the best things about moving to New England was that I haven't seen one in the 6 years I've been here. Just thinking about their little skittery footsteps is giving me the heebie-jeebies.
posted by victoriab at 2:45 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm not insectophobic, but your story even wigged me out. That thing had a purpose. Maybe it was an alien? :P

He was cold! And lonely.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:38 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yeah, probably an american cockroach/palmetto bug. They can fly, but don't usually. You can definitely hear them move under certain circumstances - they're big enough. I was woken up by one rustling in some paper bags in another room.

And they will also totally crawl on humans. It's never happened to me, but my aunt, a botanist, has a creepy story from when she worked for the state of Florida. She was traveling on business and had to stay at a scuzzy motel that was the only option in a more rural area of the state. In the middle of the night she felt something on her and woke up to find an entire family of cockroaches in the bed with her, as well as on the wall and nightstand, etc. Fortunately, she's a nature-loving scientist type, so she wasn't too freaked out, but she definitely never stayed there again. She did say it was one of the only times she's ever seen a bunch of them fly for any extended period of time, which was apparently pretty cool.
posted by clerestory at 5:02 PM on April 9, 2011

Whatever you do, don't google "cockroach ear." You will never sleep again.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:31 PM on April 9, 2011

Best answer: You've met the Georgia state bird, the palmetto bug. They can get huge and will fly at your face like they're on a mission. I've woken because they were on me before, and I don't know if there's a more thorough way to wake up.
posted by notashroom at 7:44 PM on April 10, 2011

Response by poster: Just knowing what it was made me feel a little better thanks. I moved to the other room last night and slept like a rock!! No bugs waking me up.

It was definitely an American Cockroach. A big one. A very very very big one. Ugh. If I were there another day I'd scheme to catch it, just to prove to everyone how disgusting and HUGE it was. You could hear it moving around, ugh...

Thanks for the awesome help!
posted by brenton at 9:50 PM on April 10, 2011

We found a couple of monster roaches in the water cooler, back in college. When we took out the empty bottle. In the neck of the dispenser. *barf*

We attributed this to the recycling club making us (the newspaper) store newsprint in the back hallway of our basement building, down by the railroad tracks.

And people wonder why we all drank so much: the memories of those empty wingcases sitting on the filter neck will never be scrubbed away. :7(
posted by wenestvedt at 11:33 AM on April 11, 2011

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