The Jerusalem cricket is often referred to as the potato bug even though they are not bugs and do not prefer potatoes to other crops. They are also called stone crickets, nina de la tierra, and chaco.
There is a number of myths about the Jerusalem cricket that have floated around in old wives tales; however, they no merit. They are not poisonous, but do have a strong and painful bite. They do not rub their legs together, however, they do make various noises that sound much like those made by crickets. Finally, because of the human appearance of the head child like cries have often been attributed to the Jerusalem cricket, this too is untrue.
The Jerusalem cricket is neither a cricket or a bug but rather an insect. This colorful little cricket has a black and orange banded lower body and a dark orange head and legs. Adult crickets can reach lengths up to two inches.
The Jerusalem cricket can be found throughout the western portions of the United States with their primary territory extending from the Pacific Coast of the United States all the way south into Mexico.
The Jerusalem cricket is nocturnal, which means that it prefers to be active at night and is rarely seen during the day, and is not usually aggressive. It is not poisonous but it can use its powerful jaws to bite. The cricket prefers to underground and the large head with powerful jaws and strong feet are perfect for digging through the soil. It is capable of producing a song sound, much like other crickets, by hitting its legs against its body.
The eggs of the Jerusalem cricket are hatched during the spring and reach maturity In the fall. A generation is complete within about one year. A different song is used during the mating season. It is created by the abdomen being beaten along the ground.
The Jerusalem cricket feeds primarily on both living and dead plant matter but will eat other insects.
Jerusalem Cricket Photo Credit: benketaro from Flickr, Creative Commons License