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Potato Bugs Through History

Newly feared? Recently unearthed? This year’s horror story? Hardly. Through all of time, potato bugs have been the world’s most universally feared, hated and disgusting creatures. Some of the earliest written record of potato bugs can be found in The Bible:

6 And there came out of the smoke potato bugs upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of earth have power.
7 And the shapes of the potato bugs were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and their faces were as the faces of men; and the sound of their feet was as the sound of chariots of many horses running into battle.
8 And they had mandibles like claws of seacrabs, and there were bites in their mandibles; and their power was to hurt men five months.

Or regard this, from William Shakespeare’s “Richard III”:

The wretched, bloody, and usurping potato bug,
That spoil’d your summer fields and fruitful vines,
Swills your warm blood like wash, and makes his trough
In your embowel’d bosoms, this foul bug
Is now even in the center of this isle,
Near the town of Leicester, as we learn.

Or this, from none other than John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath”:

Joad plodded along, dragging his cloud of dust behind him. A little bit ahead he saw the arched stripe back of a potato bug, crawling slowly along through the dust, its legs working stiffly and jerkily. Joad stopped to watch it, and his shadow fell on the bug. Instantly the head snapped back and mandibles were opened. Joad picked it up and turned it over. It let out a cry like a hoarse baby child...

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