Subject: Large and Strange
Location: Boise, ID foothills
October 15, 2016 2:04 pm
I found this in the foothills of Boise, ID. I’ve never seen anything like it! It’s quite large, bigger than any crawling or flying insect I’ve ever seen here.
Signature: ?

Jerusalem Cricket

Jerusalem Cricket

This is a Jerusalem Cricket or Potato Bug in the genus StenopelmatusSouthern California sightings of Potato Bugs are quite common, but in your area, Potato Bugs  are not as well known.  Since we must leave the office for several days, we are post-dating your submission to go live to our site at the end of the week.

6 Responses to Jerusalem Cricket

  1. NACH says:

    First saw one of these in Thousand Oaks, CA and was amazed at its size and weight. I now live in the bay area of CA (Vallejo) and have seen them here as well, although they do not seem to be as numerous, nor have I seen any as large as we commonly observed further south. A few quick questions about these guys: What are their closest relatives in the insect world? (Are they indeed a type of cricket?) Where do the largest of them rank among insects according to size? Do either of their common names “Jerusalem Cricket” or “Potato Bug” indicate anything factual about their origins or habits? Lastly, I was told these creatures have been the objects of quite a few strange myths and tales, has anyone heard any of these? Thank you to any and all for info !

    • bugman says:

      In his book, the Curious World of Bugs, Daniel wrote: “The Potato Bug, which is one of the most frequently made identification requests on, is quite the curiosity. Potato Bugs, Long-horned Orthopterans in the family Stenopelmatidae and natives of the western portion of North and Central America, have numerous other interesting common names that do not make much sense. Despite living underground, Potato Bugs do not prefer to eat potatoes. Though they are also called Jerusalem Crickets, they did not originate in Jerusalem. Other names are much more descriptive, including Children of the Earth from the Spanish Niñas de la Tierra, due to the almost human appearance of the insect’s head, and Skull Insect from the Navajo name, also a reference to the insect’s head. Interestingly, the closest relatives to Potato Bugs are the Wetas of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. These insects have a wealth of legends associated with them as well.”

      • NACH says:

        Thank you so much! It amazes me how much myth, legend and misinformation we humans generate concerning the insect world, right down to the names by which we refer to them! I have to admit to an all to common ambiguous response to many insects, spiders, etc myself, but the more I learn, the more I am fascinated rather than fearful or repulsed. Your site has been a great help and a wonderful starting point for further exploration. Thank you again !

  2. Heather says:

    I first saw one of these while turning my compost pile in Central Oregon.
    I was surprised by the large size and now I’ve been seeing them burrowing in my garden.
    At first glance I thought it was a scorpion, which I know we have around here as well. Thanks for the info!

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