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Know Your Enemy: Jerusalem Cricket

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Most people are startled when they see a Jerusalem cricket (Stenopelmatus) for the first time. It is fairly common for the Jerusalem cricket to be up to 50 mm long. It has creepy little black eyes and a huge head and the color varies between yellow, tan or brown. The adult does not have wings, so it moves around by hopping.

The strong mandibles can give a painful bite, but luckily they are not venomous. Jerusalem crickets are nocturnal and will ward off a potential threat by emitting a fowl, pungent odor. Extensive damage to gardens and crops by these insects is rare. Despite the large size and alarming appearance, the Jerusalem cricket is a friend, not a foe.

Jerusalem crickets do not “chirp” like house and field crickets. The sound that it makes is more of a scratching or hissing sound and they make a drumming sound during mating by beating their abdomen on the ground.

They are also called potato bugs, because they burrow into moist soil to eat decaying root plants and tubers.

Despite the name, Jerusalem crickets are not true crickets nor are they native to Jerusalem. These large, flightless insects are native to parts of Mexico and western United States

Even though they are large and have an alarming appearance, the Jerusalem cricket is a friend, not a foe.

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