Facts, Identification & Control
Many people are startled when they see a Jerusalem cricket for the first time. It is a large insect. It is common for a Jerusalem cricket to be up to 50 mm long. It has a large head and beady black eyes. From the front it appears to have a tiny face.
It is yellow to brown in color. The adult does not have wings, so it moves around by hopping. It does not “chirp” like house and field crickets. The sound that it makes has been compared to a scratching or hissing sound.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Jerusalem crickets are active at night. The primary foods are roots, tubers and insects. The ideal environment for these insects would be a garden or flowerbed. During the day, the Jerusalem crickets hide under rocks or logs. In extremely hot, dry seasons, these insects may move into homes. Inside, they seek out dark places to spend the day.
Most prevention of Jerusalem crickets can be done outdoors. Remove rocks, lumber, logs and woodpiles where they might hide. Make sure exterior doors close tightly. Replace weather stripping that is missing or damaged. Move mulch a few inches away from the foundation to make a “dry zone.” Set sprinklers to come on in the morning so grass and flowerbeds will dry during the day.
An application of liquid insecticide on the outside foundation can help keep these insects from invading the house. Call your local pest control professional.
Females may kill and consume the male after mating. She then lays 3 mm eggs in burrows. Nymphs hatch and go through a series of molts until adulthood. Average time to become an adult from egg is around two years.
Signs of a Jerusalem Cricket Infestation
The most startling sign of Jerusalem crickets are the large insects themselves when they enter a home. They will not reproduce or infest indoors. In most cases the cricket has accidentally wandered inside; however, under certain conditions large numbers can invade, raising concern.
Jerusalem cricket, Stenopelmatus spp., is native to the desert southwest, the western states, and along the Pacific coast. In Spanish it is often called el niño de la tierra—the child of the earth. It has also been called “the old bald man” and the potato bug. There are several myths about this insect. One myth is that Jerusalem crickets are poisonous. They can bite, but usually when they are cornered or when they are picked up. The bite can be painful, but there is no venom delivered.