An insect that looks like a queen ant



Hello "Askanant". My name is Corinne and I am in 4th grade. I have always wanted to study bugs when I grew up, and I am getting ready to do a science project on ants. (I am sending this message to my teacher, who is also a bug lover too).

Today, I was down in Hemet and playing in a field with my friends. I found what looks like a queen ant. Her face and head look like an ant, but she is almost an entire inch. My dad said he thinks its a potato bug.

There is a picture attached. If it is a queen ant, can you tell me how to try and keep her alive?

Thank you very much!
Corinne, 9 years old, 4th Grade
One day I will get to study bugs for a living!


Hello Corinne:

Thank you for contacting the AntBlog about your mystery insect. A good place to start on your way to "study bugs for a living" is to learn to identify the incredible diversity of insects that live around us, and we're here to help (especially with ants).
We occasionally get questions like yours, about insects with large rounded abdomens, which people think look like queen ants - an honest mistake. It turns out your dad got this one right; the insect in your picture is what many Californians call a "potato bug", but entomologists call a Jerusalem cricket. Here's a link at an insect identification website with some excellent pictures of one: http://bugguide.net/node/view/591927/bgpage. Another group that people often confuse with ants is the oil beetles: http://bugguide.net/node/view/385828.
Two easy clues to recognizing true ants, which can be seen on the many pictures of ants as this site, are:
- "elbowed" antennae, in which the first segment of the antenna is much longer than the others, and held at a different angle to the body than the rest of the antenna
- a definite waist of one or two narrowed body segments. (The Jerusalem cricket has a waist, but it does not consist of a whole body segment, only the narrow front portion of a single segment.)

James C. Trager of the AskAnt Team

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