1864 White Cloud KS Chief 26 May /4, Perhaps many of our readers will remember how, in their young days, they used to go into the woods, and, in some bare spot, . . look for certain signs or marks, when, placing the mouth down close to the spot, they would commence repeating the magic word “Doodle,” over and over . . ; presently the earth would become slightly agitated about the spot, and pretty soon a grayish-colored bug would make its appearnce [sic]. . . This insect was called by the scientific name of “Doodle-Bug.” 1875 (1876) Twain Tom Sawyer 82 MO, He thought he would satisfy himself on that point; so he searched around till he found a small sandy spot with a little funnel-shaped depression in it. He laid himself down and put his mouth close to this depression and called : “Doodle-bug, doodle-bug, tell me what I want to know! Doodle-bug, doodle-bug tell me what I want to know!” a1883 (1911) Bagby VA Gentleman 48, [A true Virginian must] call doodle-bugs out of their holes. 1893 Atlanta Constitution (GA) 18 June 8/5, Both ladies went out into the yard, and . . soon found one of the funnel-shaped holes of the little insects. Bending over the hole, . . Mrs. Cutliff began industriously to call the doodle. 1909 DN 3.395 nwAR, Doodle bug. . . A yellow beetle that lives in the ground and shows its presence by the hole it makes. It is caught by children who put a straw in the hole and call ‘doodle bug.’ It is not supposed to grasp the straw unless called. 1917 DN 4.411 wNC, Doodle-bug. . . The ant-lion: so-called because it is said to emerge from its pit if one calls ‘doodle-bug, doodle-bug.’ Also La., S. Car., Ky. 1932 Daily Democrat (Tallahassee FL) 7 Jan 3/6, The gaping hole, fully 30 feet deep and shaped like a doodle bug’s hole, can easily hide an ordinary filling station. 1946 PADS 6.12 VA, eNC, Doodle-ant. . . A small fuzzy-looking insect that burrows in soft dry earth. It is supposed to come to the surface when entreated with the words, “Doodle-ant, doodle-ant, house is afire,” repeated several times. ((In s. Va. and c. N. C.: doodle bug. Myrmeleonia.)) 1950 PADS 14.26 SC, Doodle, doodle bug. . . The larval ant lion. Children are wont to shout over the conical pit of the ant lion: “Doodle, doodle, house afire.” When he cautiously appears, they order him back with “Hack, doodle, hack!” 1958 PADS 29.9 seTN, Doodle bug: Larva of the ant lion. Rep[orted] from Hamilton. c1960 Wilson Coll. csKY, Doodle-bug. . . Ant lion. . . Rhyme used to call insect up. 1967 DARE FW Addit nwAR, Doodlebug—Lives in dry, dusty places, makes hollowed cones to trap insects in. Kids say, “Doodlebug, Doodlebug, come get your corn. House on fire, children cryin.” The doodlebug goes to working in the sand and the kids catch him. 1968 DARE (Qu. R30, . . Other kinds of beetles) Inf CA87, Doodle or doodle-doodle-do bug—you can get it to come out if you say “doodle-doodle-do” to it; gray-colored bug, a sand burrower; VA15, Doodlebug. 1984 Welty One Writer’s 13 cMS, Under the trees in her backyard were dozens of their holes. When you stuck a broom straw down one and called, “Doodlebug, doodlebug, your house in on fire and your children are burning up,” she believed this is why the doodlebug came running out of the hole. 2008 Victoria Advocate (TX) 2 Oct sec A 8/3, It was like an ant in a doodlebug hole. Whatever you did, you knocked more in on you.
1877 Frank Leslie’s Pleasant Hours 22.191 sLA, This wasp had half of its body and head down the hole of the equally well-known doodlebug, a worm which children pull out of their holes by teasing them with a straw until they grasp it with their strong nippers and hold on until they are thrown out. 1885 Daily Picayune (New Orleans LA) 27 Dec 5/3, Up comes the straw with a long, creamy, ringy, part worm, part caterpillar looking attachment that has a pair of sharp forceps, six short legs, a helmet on its head and a hump on its back, which, in ignorance of its scientific name we call—a doodle. 1912 Houston Post (TX) 15 Dec /3 cMS (as of 1863), The doodlebugs dug little round holes in the earth, three or four inches deep, and we would thrust a straw down them and worry the bug until he would seize hold of it, and then we would try to draw him to the top. 1949 Swain Insect Guide 115, Tiger Beetles—Family Cicindelidae. . . The larvae, locally called “doodlebugs,” looking as though their powerfully jawed heads were on upside down, lie in wait for their insect prey. 1957 Boys’ Life Apr 60 neKY, Jeb eased the straw toward the top of the ground. He could feel the weight of the doodlebug and his heart beat fast. He spotted the head of the doodlebug above the hole and moved his hand fast to cup it. The doodlebug loosed the straw and slid back into the hole. 2014 Clarion–Ledger (Jackson MS) 19 Nov sec D 4/1, To this teacher and to me and countless others raised in the South, a doodlebug is the white grub of a beautiful emerald green tiger beetle that lives in a pencil-size shaft dug into the ground. But when I shared the story on my radio program, I immediately got an email from a scientist who wrote that “ant lions are not tiger beetle larvae. . .” Uh, OK. I wasn’t talking about ant lions, which are also bug-eating larvae that bury themselves at the bottoms of shallow, conical depressions. My mom taught me how to catch both kinds. I know the difference. 2014 in 2019 DARE File—Internet NC, Here in NC we called them [=tiger-beetle larvae] doodlebugs. . . I have happy memories of my father teaching me to catch them. 2015 Ibid VA, My grandpa called them [=tiger-beetle larvae] doodlebugs too and we’re from VA. He taught me how to catch them. 2016 Ibid KY, I’m from KY and as kids we also referred to them [=tiger-beetle larvae] as doodlebugs.
3 A sow bug n.
1879 Indianapolis News (IN) 24 Apr /1, Poor Davis. That settles him. He will just have to roll up in a corner like a doodle bug and die. 1887 Harper’s New Mth. Mag. 75.276/1 seLA, She wondered how the nice, fat little round “doodles” were getting on in their tin can under the house. 1942 (1960) Robertson Red Hills 214 SC, While Mary talked to the Indian, her brother searched the satchel and found cat bones, snake bones, doodle bugs, red flannel, and many other kinds of conjure things. 1968 DARE (Qu. R27) Inf LA33, Doodlebug—a little bug that rolls into a ball. 1968 DARE FW Addit New Orleans LA, Doodlebug, roly poly—Alternate terms for the little bugs with lots of legs that roll up into a ball. 2003 Vaux–Golder Harvard Dial. Survey (Internet), What do you call the little gray creature (that looks like an insect but is actually a crustacean) that rolls up into a ball when you touch it? [3.61% of 10673 respondents responded with doodle bug, esp LA and eTX, but also scattered chiefly east of the Mississippi River.] 2014 in 2019 DARE File—Internet cwAR, We had doodlebugs when I was growing up, but they were what others called rolly-pollies. 2015 DARE File—Internet ceTX, Then the quiz asked me what term I used for the gray, many-legged, armadillo-like terrestrial crustacean that curled itself into a ball when threatened, those poor adornments on many a youngster’s mud pie. Oh, a doodlebug, I answered.
4 A dung beetle n.
1888 Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago IL) 6 Mar 4/1, The doodle-bug, the correspondent said, was accustomed to roll up balls of dirt of the size of a walnut, and, having rolled them up, to dig holes in which it buried them. 1969 DARE FW Addit neNC, Doodlebug—Bugs which roll up manure into big piles are called doodlebugs and turd rollers. 1970 DARE (Qu. R30, . . Other kinds of beetles) Inf SC67, Doodlebug—digs in ground, cats’ waste, looks something like June bug, not as long, green and red, also called tumblebug; NC85, Doodlebug—larger than June bug, fat body, blue with blue wings. 1976 Garber Mountain-ese 24 sAppalachians, Doodle-bug . . dung beetle—You can call a doodlebug outta his hole by hummin’ to it.
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