This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.
This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.
Los Angeles Attacked by Giant Locusts!!!
Call out the National Guard! Swarms of unidentified insects are on the attack! Well, maybe two. But they're really, really big.
The other night I was sitting here in Burbank typing at the computer when I heard the cat walk across some newspaper. The only problem was that the cat was sitting in front of me. What on earth could be so big that I could hear it moving? Later that same night I heard some frightening winged behemoth thumping around in the lampshade. When I returned with a weapon and sleepy husband in tow, I saw the 4-inch long outline of something that could have been a long beetle. It was hastily dispatched while I stayed locked in the bathroom.
Yesterday as I walked to my car, a lizard jumped across my path and stuck itself to the wall 5 feet high. I moved closer to check it out, and it was no lizard, it was a big-eyed, fanged, winged beast at least 4 inches long. I have never seen a grasshopper or anything that big. It was a mottled tan and brown. After hearing a report of a similar monster in Highland park from ace reporter Ross A Lincoln, it was time to take immediate action! So I picked up my cell phone.
The Natural History Museum was unable to help without a picture. Again and again, entymologists have asked me why I didn't take a picture of it. Because it would have turned out all blurry with me running so fast, that's why!
No one I called reported unusual locust sightings/attacks. There seems to have been no unusual weather or activity. No strange droughts, no bird extinctions, nothing to account for the sudden appearance of these monsters. One person tried to reassure me by suggesting that it was the same locust. I said, "He must really like me then." UC Riverside's receptionist in the Entymology Department could not help me out either, but she was excited to send me directions for how to mail one to them if I saw it again.
Please pack specimens as follows: Pack insects in a plastic bag inside a small box or other container to protect from smashing. Insects may be placed in a sealed container in the freezer overnight to kill. Small, soft bodied insects or caterpillars can be placed in a small watertight container with 70% rubbing alcohol. Pack container inside a plastic bag before transporting.
I said, "I wouldn't want to kill it." She replied cheerfully, "Oh, you'd be surprised how often we open up the envelopes and they're still alive!" Who has the world's worst receptionist job ever?
The Xerxes Society spent an inordinate amount of time on the phone with me and were extremely patient. We ruled out katydids since its wings were flat and close to the body. It was definitely too big to be a cricket, and its legs weren't that pronounced (and I am not that chicken). It was not a cicada because it did not have moth-like clear wings. It was most likely a locust, but they couldn't say for sure without a picture. It is definitely of the class Orthoptera, and I should look for them among plants.
Our friend Joel V.L. Cordeiro, Visitor Services Coordinator at the Franklin Canyon Nature Center brought up the possibility of a praying mantis. I thought they were all green, but a search has shown large brown mantises that put them within the realm of possibility. I am still waiting for a return call from Stanley Pest Control.
It looks most like the Gregoriuos in Wikipedia, but apparently that one is not native to LA. The Flickr photo above is the closest I can get. Although the one I saw was more tan, less yellow. The next time one jumps out at me, I am not sure if I will run for my camera or not, but I promise you I will run.
Stay tuned for updates on the Los Angeles River turning to blood.
Photo by Freebird4 via Flickr