When I was a child, some kids would play with what looked like giant monster bugs, We called them potato bugs, but they were really Jerusalem crickets.
There is debate over how they got their name, being neither crickets nor from Jerusalem. Whatever you call them, Jerusalem crickets give me the creeps (unlike most insects), even though they are mostly beneficial.
You will generally only see them in the evening or after a heavy rain. Leaving the sprinklers on too long can also coax them out of hiding.
Jerusalem cricket description
Native the the western United States and Mexico, there are several different species of Jerusalem cricket. Most of them appear waxy, with brown and yellow bands. These nocturnal flightless insects are large. They average 2” long with a big head. While they cannot sting, Jerusalem crickets can inflict a painful bite, as well as discharge a nasty smell, but only if provoked.
During their mating season, most Jerusalem crickets create a drumming sound by rubbing their abdomen on the ground, while some create sound by rubbing their hind legs against the abdomen.
Jerusalem cricket diet
These insects generally feed on dead plant matter and other insects. Sometimes, but only rarely, they burrow into the soil and feed on your potatoes and other tubers.
For the most part, these benign opportunists pose no threat to your garden. Instead, they are more likely to feed on insect pests and help process dead plant material into nutrients that your growing plants can use.
They still give me the creeps.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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