SAN DIEGO, California (AP) -- Scientists said Thursday they have discovered
the largest bug ever found inspecies in Southern California.

April 5, 2002 Posted: 8:55 AM EST (1355 GMT)

The newly identified insect, still unnamed scientifically, is a variety of the Jerusalem cricket, a six-legged, wingless bug marked by its heft. Some specimens reach lengths of 3 inches or more and resemble bloated ants. 

The insect is thought to play an important role in the ecosystem, both as a food source for animals such as coyotes and as a host for a parasite that calls the crickets home for a portion of its life. 

The finding is unusual given that Southern California is densely urbanized, a threat to many species.