El Nino del Tierra

“When I was younger like 6 or 7, I used to hang out with a neighborhood boy. I was a tomboy and we would just go around the neighborhood and get dirty. My grandma was always telling me to clean up and act like a proper little girl, but that was never fun. We would have digging excavations in a neighbor’s empty garden and pretend we were looking for treasure. We would usually just find bugs. One of the grossest bugs I would find was called potato bugs. I think they are called potato bugs because they can grow as big as a potato or eat a whole potato- something like that. They look like giant ants that were under the dirt. My friend and I would always get so excited and curious about these huge ants. Their faces looked like baby faces, which would freak me out. They were pretty gnarly. My grandma would scold me, warning me to stay away from ‘el Niño del Tierra’ – Child of the earth”.

These bugs were called El Niño del Tierra because of their baby like faces and because they lived in the moist dirt. These large insects are wingless and have antennae. My informants’ grandmother would warn her about the bugs saying they were the devil’s children. She warned against trying to kill one f the bugs because then you would be sent to hell. This obviously was a ploy to keep children away from the dirt and from playing with the bugs. If a potato bug was killed it made a sound like a baby or child screaming, supposedly. This complimented the idea if devils children and added a stranger element to the story. The only sound that is recorded of a potato bug is more of a hissing sound.