What is this weird insect we found in our California yard?
April 20, 2016 6:26 PM   Subscribe

My wife found this weird insect in our LA/California backyard while gardening. It looks like a slim shiny wasp body got itself into stuck in large shiny copper colored head. Is it a destroyer of pests or a destroyer of crops? A harmless passer-by? Friend or foe? We must know!!!!

My wife has yet to provide me with info on size but from the pic I'd guess maybe around half an inch. Hard to tell for sure though.

I've run a search-by-image search through Google. The first result I got looks exactly like the insect in our picture. Unfortunately it's the icon for a Quora page on insect identification and there's no info on what it is. The image file name is no help either. No other search results matched at all.
posted by Hairy Lobster to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Jerusalem Cricket
posted by isthmus at 6:28 PM on April 20, 2016 [6 favorites]

Wow, that was fast! AskMe FTW!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 6:29 PM on April 20, 2016

Nice one. A man wiser than me once told me: "If it has six legs kill it. Kill it with fire or poison. If it has eight legs, let it live, it will kill those six legged bastards. Fuck them."
posted by Sphinx at 6:39 PM on April 20, 2016 [7 favorites]

Ugh. Angeleno here. Yeah, they are all over this town, alas. And they're waaaay larger than 1/2 inch. But they're basically harmless and don't fight back when you scoop them outside.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:47 PM on April 20, 2016

I've heard that they can bite, but they rarely do. Totally harmless to gardens. My mom always called them Children of the Earth, which is quite poetic, but generally "potato bug" is the most common nomenclature in CA.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 8:16 PM on April 20, 2016 [3 favorites]

Yup, "potato bug" is what we called them when I was a kid in Nevada. I've only ever seen them singly, but I've heard from reliable sources that at times they can cover the roads in northern Nevada, to the point where it gets slick.
posted by bricoleur at 8:49 PM on April 20, 2016

The unofficial bug of AskMe - there have been so many questions about this bug I knew what it was before I looked! Wish we could make it official :]
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:51 PM on April 20, 2016 [8 favorites]

Cf.My previous question.
posted by slidell at 7:55 AM on April 21, 2016

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