Parkhurst Prawns

I live down the road from parkhurst in jozi and have found one or two of these bad boys in our garden and home. Initially I freaked out and was quite disgusted by these huge jumping cockroaches and then I wiki’d them…here is the description (good for gardening) – The Parktown prawn aka Parkmore prawn aka Parkhurst prawn, Libanasidus vittatus, is a monotypic species of king cricket found in Southern Africa. Although a member of the cricket order Orthoptera, it is placed in the family Anostostomatidae, separate from that of the true crickets, Gryllidae. The insect gets its English name from the suburbs of Parktown, Parkmore and Parkhurst in Johannesburg, South Africa where they are frequently found. In Angola, it is found in the southern savanna and semi-arid regions, whereas in Namibia it is found throughout the territory. The Parktown prawn is also related to the New Zealand tree weta which is also in the family Anostostomatidae.

A fancied resemblance to a prawn accounts for its name. The Parktown prawn is held in low regard by some, while gardeners value them for controlling garden snail populations and attracting the Hadeda Ibis.

The animal is omnivorous, feeding on a variety of food including snails, and vegetable matter. In urban environments, they will readily take food made available by suburban dwellers, including cat food, and dog food. Adults are usually around 4 centimetres (1.6 in) to 5 cm (2.0 in) in length, with 2 cm (0.79 in) antennae.

So perhaps they don’t really deserve their bad rep after all.

All the best and happy gardening,

Sam

 

3 Responses to Parkhurst Prawns

  1. mol-d March 12, 2012 at 8:55 am #

    hey sam,

    thanks for the info. they aways sounded way nastier!! seem quite harmless and useful 🙂

  2. Lorraine March 12, 2012 at 11:15 am #

    Useful they are but I remember them with dread from my Johannesburg days. We lived in Mondeor in the South of Johannesburg and they would swarm into the house in the evenings. I frequently swept 6 or 7 of them out at a time and there was much consternation when they jumped on me when I was gardening. One even walked across my husband’s face while he was sleeping. Ugh! I was amazed one evening to find one grazing contentedly on the strap of my flip-flops which I had left on the verandah. If I hadn’t seen it myself I would not have believed it.

  3. mol-d March 15, 2012 at 5:35 pm #

    ok. they sound like menaces 🙂

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