Do Jerusalem Crickets Make Noise? Exploring Their Aural Abilities

folder_openInsecta, Orthoptera
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Jerusalem crickets are interesting creatures belonging to the insect family. While these insects may look like crickets, they actually belong to a group of flightless insects known as Stenopalmatidae.

One common question about Jerusalem crickets is whether they make any noise. It turns out that these creatures are not your typical chirping crickets. In fact, they produce a different type of noise when disturbed, by rubbing their hind legs along the side of their abdomen, creating a hissing sound or a noise similar to rubbing sandpaper together 1. This unique feature sets them apart from other cricket species, offering insight into their intriguing behavior and adaptations.

When it comes to communication, Jerusalem crickets rely more on vibrations than auditory sounds. They produce mating calls by drumming their abdomen against the ground, and these vibrations are detected through the soil 2. This further emphasizes their distinctiveness when compared to other cricket species.

Understanding Jerusalem Crickets

Physical Characteristics

Jerusalem crickets, often referred to as “Child of the Earth” or “Niño de la Tierra,” are large insects with distinct features. Some of their notable physical characteristics include:

  • Rounded, yellowish to brownish bodies
  • Large, bald, humanoid-like heads
  • Powerful, spiny legs for digging
  • No wings, thus flightless

These crickets do not produce the typical chirping sounds like other cricket species. However, when disturbed, they can make a hissing noise by rubbing their hind legs along their abdomen, similar to the sound of rubbing sandpaper together.

Habitat and Distribution

Jerusalem crickets are predominantly found in North America, particularly in the western United States, Mexico, and Central America. Their habitat ranges from arid, sandy areas to grasslands and forests, depending on the species. Some key points to note about their habitat and distribution are:

  • Found in regions like California, Oklahoma, and Mexico
  • Prefer moist soil for burrowing and laying eggs
  • Mostly nocturnal, hiding underground during daytime

To sum up, Jerusalem crickets are fascinating insects with unique physical traits and a widespread distribution in North America. Their distinct appearance and habitat preferences make them an intriguing subject to study.

Noises Produced by Jerusalem Crickets

Hissing Sounds

Jerusalem crickets produce a unique hissing noise when they feel disturbed. They create this sound by rubbing their hind legs along the sides of their abdomen1. This noise can be described as the sound of “rubbing together pieces of sandpaper”2.

Drumming and Vibrations

Another form of sound production in Jerusalem crickets is through drumming and vibrations. They generate these mating calls by drumming their abdomen against the ground1. These vibrations are then detected through the soil. This method of communication doesn’t involve the use of wings like in some other insects.

Hissing Sounds Drumming and Vibrations
Caused by rubbing hind legs Generated by drumming abdomen against ground
Occurs when disturbed Used for mating calls
Sandpaper-like noise Detected as vibrations through soil

Note: Jerusalem crickets do not make a typical chirping sound like other cricket species2.

Reasons for Different Sounds

  • Hissing: Intended for deterring predators and indicating aggression.
  • Drumming: Created for mating and communication with other Jerusalem crickets.

These unique noises and methods of communication make Jerusalem crickets distinct from other insects, allowing them to interact effectively in their natural habitat.

Given this information, it’s important to remember that these creatures rely on various sounds and vibrations, such as hissing[:3:] and drumming1, for communication, mating, and defense.

Behavior and Lifestyle

Solitary Nature

Jerusalem crickets are known for being solitary creatures. They tend to live alone and interact with others primarily during mating.

  • They do not form colonies or groups
  • Jerusalem crickets are mostly nocturnal

Mating Rituals

When it comes to the mating rituals of Jerusalem crickets, it involves a specific sequence of sounds and behaviors.

  • Males initiate mating by producing a drumming sound with their abdomen
  • This sound is detected by females as vibrations through soil

Jerusalem crickets can produce a variety of sounds in addition to their mating calls:

  • Hissing noise when disturbed (by rubbing their hind legs along their abdomen)
  • Drumming sound as a communication method

Despite their solitary nature, these fascinating insects rely on intricate rituals and acoustic signals to locate and communicate with potential mates.

Diet and Feeding Habits

Omnivorous Diet

Jerusalem crickets are known for their omnivorous diet. These insects primarily feed on:

  • Roots: They nibble on plant roots, causing damage to gardens and crops.
  • Insects: They also consume, capture, and kill other insects, using their strong mandibles for this purpose.

These crickets often search for food underground or among rocks and logs.

Feeding on Decaying Organic Matter

Apart from their varied diet, Jerusalem crickets also decompose decaying organic matter. You can typically find them in:

  • Dirt: Crickets break down organic matter in the soil, helping recycle nutrients.
  • Compost bins: They contribute to breaking down waste material in compost piles.

In summary, Jerusalem crickets not only feed on roots and insects but also break down decaying organic matter, making them essential components of their ecosystems.

Cultural Significance and Other Names

Jerusalem crickets, also known as potato bugs, are large insects with a distinctive appearance. They have other names such as:

  • Sand cricket
  • Stone cricket
  • Skull insect
  • Qalatötö

These names often reflect their cultural, ethnic, or geographic origins. For example, they’re called “niña de la tierra” (child of the earth) in some Spanish-speaking regions.

Despite their name, Jerusalem crickets are not true crickets. Their behavior and morphology differ significantly from other cricket types. For instance, they are wingless and prefer to burrow in the soil, while many cricket species have wings and chirp using stridulation.

Jerusalem crickets are also known to emit a foul smell when threatened or disturbed. This defensive mechanism helps ward off potential predators in their natural habitat.

In some cultures, Jerusalem crickets are considered symbols of good luck, while in others, they are seen as harbingers of misfortune. This duality makes them fascinating insects for researchers and enthusiasts alike.

Noise-wise, Jerusalem crickets produce several sounds, like hissing by rubbing their hind legs against their abdomen. Mating calls are created by drumming their abdomen on the ground, which other crickets detect as vibrations in the soil.

Here’s a summary of their main features:

  • Large body size (1.5-3 inches long)
  • Human-like head with large mandibles
  • Amber in color with dark stripes on the abdomen
  • Long antennae and no wings
  • Produce various sounds for communication

Overall, Jerusalem crickets, despite their misleading name, are fascinating insects with unique characteristics, making them stand out among other cricket species.


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Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – North American Potato Bug? or native Australian relative???


Creepiest bug/insect i have ever seen!!
Mon, Nov 10, 2008 at 4:30 AM
Hi i came across your website whilst looking for information on a bug/insect that had crawled across our hardwood floors, My first instinct was to squash it, however i picked it up with a dustpan and after analizing it for at least 20 minutes, i decided to toss it outside over our verandah(i am a total girl when it comes to bugs etc) Anyhow i am from rathmines in lake macquarie, nsw Australia. Im hoping you can help me idenify it, i have attached a picture, it seemed to be gentle and moved slowly and did not try to scurry away when it was touched with my shoe LOL also when it walked the back end of its body seemed to sway from side to side, I would like to know if it is harmful to my family if so what can i do to prevent them from coming inside the home? I get he creeps just thinking about it…..
Kimberley 🙂
Rathmines, Lake Macquarie NSW Australia

Potato Bug?  In Australia???
Potato Bug? In Australia???

Hi Kimberly,
If you were writing from the American Southwest, we would say this is a Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket in the family Stenopelmatidae without a second thought. The closest relatives to Potato Bugs are in Australia and are known as Wetas. This doesn’t look like a Weta, it looks like a Potato Bug. Since there are so many Australian insect species established in Southern California, we wouldn’t discount that this is a North American Potato Bug that somehow invaded Australia. Since we must dash off to work, we really don’t have time to research if Potato Bugs have become established in Australia right now, but we are very curious. The more people travel the globe, the more chances that plants, insects, diseases and other species will be spread far from their native ranges along with people. Eventually we may have globally homogenized ecosystems.

Gee, I think your commentary is perfect. I have no idea, either! It just about ‘has’ to be a weta, “king cricket,” or “Cooloola Monster.” Someone at CSIRO could help, maybe. This one is beyond my state-side expertise I’m afraid….
Eric Eaton

Hullo Kimberly, Your bug looks like a King Cricket from the Stenopelmatidae family, subfamily Deinacridinae, genus Australostoma. They live in borrows  and tend to come out at nght when it is wet. Found in coastal NSW north to Brisbane. According to  David Rentz (“Grasshopper Country”), “when handled, they produce foul-smelling anal secretions that deter predators,” so perhaps you were wise to persuade it to go outside.
BTW I am just around the lake from you at Wangi and found a huge cricket last week when moving compost onto the vegie garden, so perhaps the big crickets are on the move!

Letter 2 – Niña de la Tierra: Potato Bug in Mexico


Monster Beetle
Location:  Puebla, Mexico
September 25, 2010 12:49 pm
Hello bugman,
I live in Puebla, Mexico, a city in southern Mexico. I found what seems to be a beetle in my shower. It has 6 legs, red legs and head, a black body, antenna, and no wings. It is also giant. Can you please help me figure out what this is so I can shower peacefully? Thank you!
Signature:  A Scared American in Mexico

Niña de la Tierra

Dear Scared American,
You had an encounter with a Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket in the family Stenopelmatidae, a subterranean dweller that emerges and forages at night.  In Spanish, it is called a Niña de la Tierra or Child of the Earth.   Potato Bugs have strong jaws and they may bite if provoked, but they are not dangerous.
The description of different species has not gotten the attention it deserves, and most literature does not accurately differentiate members of the family which according to BugGuide, includes at least fifty species in California and 200 species in the entire range. Also according to BugGuide, they are found in Western North America from British Columbia to Central America.

Letter 3 – Potato Bug


It looks a little like a ant?
I found this bug in eastern Oregon camping over Labor day. Not sure what it is but it looks like a really large ant with a bee abdomen. Also it’s about an inch long if you couldn’t tell from the photo. I would love any help on iding it. Thanks.
Jason Matheis

Hi Jason,
This is a Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket, a burrowing relative of true crickets and katydids.

Letter 4 – Parktown Prawn from South Africa


Look What the Cat Dragged In
Location:  Hout Bay, Cape Towm, South Africa
October 5, 2010 2:07 am
I was horrified this morning when I got out of bed and saw this creature – brought in, thoughtfully by my kitten.
I can’t even begin to describe how disturbed I am by the look of this thing. Please tell me WTB?
Signature:  Amy

Parktown Prawn

Hi Amy,
This King Cricket,
Libanasidus vittatus, is commonly called a Parktown Prawn in South Africa.  The Academic dictionaries and encyclopedias website reports:  “The Parktown prawn is typically omnivorous, feeding on slugs, snails and cutworms as well as vegetable matter. They have been seen feeding on dog food, dead birds, as well as dry oatmeal and fallen fruit. They are also known to snack on wooden floor boards and wooden furniture. Gardens that have a high population of Parktown prawns will have almost no snails — thus, they can be considered an effective and natural form of pest control. Among their natural predators are the Hadeda Ibis and Helmeted Guineafowl, two birds in the urban habitat that are able to take on the considerable size of the Parktown prawn.”   Parktown Prawns are closely related to the Wetas of Australia and the Potato Bugs of western North America.  Parktown Prawns are believed to have been the inspiration for the aliens, called prawns, in District 9.

Thank you SO much.
You got back to me really quickly. Is there any chance you could fix up my grammar. Change “to” to “the” – as in: “I can’t even begin to describe how disturbed I am by the look of this thing. Please tell me WTB?”

Letter 5 – Mole Crickets


Potato Bug in Coastal Georgia
September 1, 2009
Dear Bugman,
My wife recently found our 10 month old daughter playing with a bug by the back door today. She called me at work and asked me to come home at lunch to look at it and try and find out what it was. Upon investigation i had no idea so i took the bug to work, now i am in the army so i work with people who have lived all over and was able to get the name “potato bug” over and over. So that lead me to read posts on your site about the potato bug. I am writing today about the post “potato bug in florida” In your response you said there situation might be rare because they are predominantly in the western united states. I just wanted to write to inform you we live in Fort Stewart, Georgia about 45 min. from Svannah georgia and the oicean. There ended up being two of these in my home today and they seemed to be barely holding on to life when i came and got them at lunch to bring to work. They were about 1 and a half to two inches long. I am sure these were potato bugs althoughthe p ictures i have are cell phone quality. They looked axactly like the ones on your site. Please let me know if since your florida posts there have been others like me to identify these bugs in the eastern coastal area. Thank You. Dustin Edwards
Dustin Edwards
South East [Georgia]

Potato Bugs??? in Georgia!!!
Potato Bugs??? in Georgia!!! or Mole Crickets

Hi Dustin
We are posting your letter and photo (the quality is really quite awful) since this Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket (genus Stenopelmatus) sighting in Georgia is really quite unusual.  Because of the poor image quality, thought these look like Potato Bugs, we would not rule out the possibility that they are Mole Crickets.

Eric Eaton’s Opinion
I think you are absolutely right about those being mole crickets.  Great deductive detective work….

Afer looking at the Mole cricket images, that is what was in my house. Thanks for the e-mail.  It did freak me out though. They are scary looking things. Do you know much about them? I read that they aren’t dangerous, but really didn’t see how to keep them out of the house or what they like to do and why they exist. Sorry the image was so bad my wife tood it with her phone and didn’t want to get close to it.   Thank you, Dustin

Letter 6 – Potato Bug


My first potatobug encounter
I encountered this critter the other day whilst digging in my sorry excuse for a garden. It’s the biggest bug I’ve ever seen- even after spending my childhood chasing after various bugs. The part I really wanted to mention though: I’ve told more than a few people my favorite bug was the potatobug because I thought they were cute and I always played with them when I was little. This has never failed to illicit looks of disgust and I never understood why. -Now- I know why, thanks to your website… it was woodlice I liked. Not potatobugs. I’m a city gal, can you blame me? Enjoy the juicy pic. I swear it was probably a 5-pounder.

Hi Angela,
We are afraid to ask what the “wtf” title of your photo stands for since we strive (sometimes unsucessfully) to be a G-rated site. Thanks for your interesting Potato Bug anecdote.

Letter 7 – Potato Bug


Subject:  so california insect
Geographic location of the bug:  THousand oaks, ventura county CA
Date: 11/07/2019
Time: 05:03 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  please help me know what this bug is, found on our doorstep last evening.   it’s about 1.5 inches long.
How you want your letter signed:  mike

Potato Bug

Dear Mike,
We doubt that many Southlanders, either natives or recent arrivals, will ever forget their first encounter with a Potato Bug, an iconic insect found in Southern California.  Potato Bugs are subterranean dwellers that are often sighted shortly after the first good rain to hit the region as they come to the surface.

Letter 8 – Mexican Potato Bug


Puebla, Mexico bug
knowing you’re swamped, but hoping you can help identify… at least to know if this is harmful to our kids… thanks.

Hi Paul,
Except for the coloration, this looks exactly like a Potato Bug, or in Spanish, Ni

Letter 9 – Mount Washington Potato Bug


Potato Bug Found Under the Green Bin
Location: Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
September 28, 2013 1:57 am
Yesterday while doing yard work, especially cleaning up pine needles that accumulated after the Santa Ana winds on Thursday, Daniel moved the green bin and found this little beauty scurrying away.  Daniel scooped it up and held onto the clawing beastie while trying to find a suitable photo studio.  A two gallon crock with its slick sides seemed the perfect receptacle, and after a few photos, the Potato Bug was released in the garden.

Potato Bug
Potato Bug

Most Southern California Potato Bug sightings occur after the rains, so this arid weather sighting seemed a bit unusual.  Upon being released into the damp ground on the northern side of the yard, the Potato Bug dug beneath the surface in about 30 seconds. 

Potato Bug
Potato Bug

Julian Donahue Comments.
I often find them when digging in the yard, but when it rains they often get flooded out and become more conspicuous.
And I think you meant “pine needles” rather than “pine needs”?



Letter 10 – Mountain Of Potato Bugs: Worst Potato Bug Experience Ever


Potato bugs
Back in 1956 in San Francisco–when I was a ten year old tomboy and loved helping my dad out by doing chores in the garden–something inexplicable happened to me. It was a sunny day and I had just finished siphoning the water from our family’s cement fish pond. My dad was away from the house, at work, and I was looking forward to surprising him with a clean, sparkling pond. This siphoning ritual was one that repeated itself two or three times each year. After bringing the water level down to about four inches, I would step into the water barefoot, catch the pond’s large and wriggly, orange, black, and white, spotted fish, throwing them into a nearby bucket of green pond water filled with lily pads. Next I would siphon out the water even further, until only a scummy sludge was left. I would scoop out this sludge with a metal dust pan, scrub and mop the pond’s cement floor, then turn on the garden hose and start adding water. A few minutes later I would squirt in some water-treating liquid, and finally I’d start tossing in fish. I had done this so many times that it was second nature to me.
On this particular day however, right after having brought the water level down to about three inches, and right after taking off my shoes and stepping into the pond, in order to start catching fish… I was startled to discover that the ground was crunchy underneath me, almost as though I were standing in a pool to which had been added buckets and buckets of popcorn. Cupping my hands together, I bent down and scooped the water, thus hoping to discover the source of this odd sensation. It was then that I beheld a mound of drowned Potato Bugs. Yes… Jerusalem Crickets! There they were, all jumbled together in a tangled, ungodly heap, filling my cupped, wet hands. And here I was, ankle deep, in a sea of, crunchy yet rubbery, sci-fi horror corpses. It grossed me out so bad! I remember suppressing a gag reflex as I jumped frantically out of the pond. I ran hose water over my feet, at full force, almost compulsively for about twenty minutes. I wanted to run away forever! To call my mom and dad on the phone, and somehow convince them to sell the house.
And yet, it was only a matter of minutes before the tough and rugged jungle queen/cowgirl (that I fancied myself to be) started to emerge again. An almost delirious calm came over me, accompanied by a mounting sense of determination. I would not be turned into a chicken-shit sissy by those miniature, ball-headed, ball-eyed monsters! So I went into the house to fetch my galoshes and my mom’s rubber gloves. I jumped into that pond from hell, and scooped out every one of them. Eventually they formed a pile about two feet tall and three feet wide. I left it sitting there, at one side of the pond. It was my trophy, my multi-faced shrunken head. Proof that I could successfully make it through even the most unspeakable of horrors. Besides, I wanted my dad to see this horrific vision for himself. Perhaps he could explain it to me, reveal to me why hundreds upon hundreds of tiny monsters from the id, would tumble to watery deaths. My dad had no idea however, and neither did my mom. When I told friends and relatives about it, they looked at me aghast, as well as perplexed. I always wore my galoshes after that… before stepping into that fish pond. But even though we didn’t sell our house for many, many years, the incident never repeated itself.
If you, or anyone, can explain this experience to me, or share similar [or
un-similar] experiences, I will be deeply grateful.
your sister in Potato Bugs, Anya Luz Lobos

Hi Anya,
You are our new hero. We can post a link with your request that takes people to your email address if you would like. Our best explanation is that there was a population explosion that year. Potato Bugs are nocturnal ramblers and often drown in pools. What happened in your case was a perfect storm.

Hi Daniel,
Hello again, New hero? Me? Worst Potato Bug Experience Ever? ALL RIGHT!!! About posting a link… Why not? It would be fun to receive email responses. I can’t help but think that maybe there are other “perfect storm” accounts waiting to be told. Still, it boggles the mind, doesn’t it? I mean, wouldn’t the first two or three bugs that fell in the pond yell, “Help, I’m drowning!” in their language of Jerusalem or via insect radar or whatever, thus alerting the others to the danger? Or is it possible that Potato Bugs are noble and self-sacrificing (albeit stupid) creatures, and that each of the remaining 997 Potato Bugs took the fatal plunge in an effort to save the others? In any case, thank you for the bestowal of honors. I truly do feel honored. Yay me! (This fifty-nine year old cowgirl/queen of the jungle… still rules!) Sincerely,
Anya Luz Lobos
P.S. I might be able to dig up a picture of me at age ten, sitting next to the–now historic–fish pond. Would that qualify me for your home page?

I just found the photo in one of my albums: I’m almost ten tears old and am sitting next to the pond with my best friend Beatrice. This photo was taken shortly before the “perfect storm” incident. Neither Beatrice (left) nor I even knew that Potato Bugs existed, at that point!

Ed. Note:  November 15, 2011
We believe that 1000s of Potato Bugs were driven to drown after being parasitized by Horsehair Worms or Gordian Worms.

Letter 11 – Old Fashioned Potato Beetle Larvae


Yellow Caterpillars in Outfits
October 1, 2009
Size: about 3/4″
When: Oct 1, 2009, 9:45AM
Where: Underside of native Jimsonweed leaves, on a large sunny meadow off Riverside Drive.
I’d been hoping to find Hawk Moth caterpillars since there was such a huge patch of Jimsonweed. Most of the plants had only tiny bites taken out of them. The plants that had the largest bites had these fat little caterpillars with what looks like bird excrement hanging off their backs. Great camouflage!
Also intersting – the chewed edges of the leaves are blackened, appearing as if they had been burned. (See photo) The plants with tiny bites had no black marks like these.
Diane Edwardson
Los Angeles, Elysian Park

Old Fashioned Potato Beetle Larvae
Old Fashioned Potato Beetle Larvae

Hi Diane,
If it looks like a caterpillar and acts like a caterpillar, it is not necessarily a caterpillar.  Many beetle larvae and sawfly larvae are confused with caterpillars.  These are not caterpillars.  They are beetle larvae, and more specifically, they are Old Fashioned Potato Beetle Larvae, Lema daturaphila, also called Three-Lined Potato Beetles.  According to BugGuide, the scientific name “Means ‘Datura loving.’ Datura is a genus of plant in the Nightshade family. The potato is not in the genus Datura, but is in the Nightshade family. This beetle feeds on both potato plants and other members of the Nightshade family.”  We noticed that you have the embedded location information as the 18 acre parcel on Riverside Drive.  We know that land, but never knew it was part of Elysian Park.  We have a certain fondness for Elysian Park.  That is where we found our cat as a stray kitten 11 years ago, and he is just the sweetest cat ever.

Thank you!    I’ll credit What’s that bug? (with a link) for the ID.  I’ll be posting a similar photo on my blog probably Monday.  Feel free to use the photo I sent you as long as my photo credit is on it.  No wonder I couldn’t find it under caterpillars.
By the way, that part of Elysian Park is undergoing environmental review for park improvements, see:
Diane Edwardson

Letter 12 – One more Potato Bug today


Ed. Note:  This came to Daniel’s personal email address
Bug man … I need you!
Location:  Eagle Rock, California
What’s that bug?   It greeted me on my bedroom floor this am!  Yikes.. Btw,  no unnecesary carnage.. He’s been set free!
Sharon Hendricks

Potato Bug

Hi Sharon,
Like the soaking rain that drenched the area Sunday night, our website inbox has been flooded with identification requests for the humanoid appearing Potato Bug.  We see you are using the method for insect removal from the home that Daniel recommends in his book, The Curious World of Bugs, though Daniel prefers the martini glass as the trap, sliding a postcard underneath to seal the opening.

Letter 13 – Potato Beetle Larva


Orange blk spotted soft body insect
August 24, 2009
Found on Corn flower plant. Has a soft shiny body
New York

Potato Beetle Larva
Potato Beetle Larva

Hi Gary,
This is the larva of a Potato Beetle in the genus Leptinotarsa.  BugGuide notes that though the genus is collectively known as Potato Beetles, “but note, not all spp. host on Solanaceous plants.

Letter 14 – Potato Beetle Larva


Red Bug
Location: Safford, Arizona
August 20, 2011 6:59 pm
Can You identify this bug? Found in the Arizona desert on top of Mt Graham near Safford.
Signature: Zombiemarble

Potato Beetle Larva

Dear Zombiemarble,
This is a Leaf Beetle Larva in the family Chrysomelidae, and larvae can often be quite difficult to properly identify.  Knowing the food plant is often a tremendous assistance.  There is a strong resemblance to the larva of the Colorado Potato Beetle (see BugGuide), however, this is not a Colorado Potato Beetle larva.  We suspect it is another member of the genus, or perhaps a closely related genus.  Though BugGuide does not picture the larva, circumstantial evidence leads us to speculate that this might be the larva of the Reddish Potato Beetle,
Leptinotarsa rubiginosa, a species only reported from Arizona on BugGuide.

Letter 15 – Potato Beetle Larva


Subject: Who is eating my potatoes?
Location: Fairview (north of Dallas), Texas
May 24, 2013 8:56 am
Hey Bugman,
I found 2 of these guys on my potato plants this morning and was wondering what they are. I’ve never seen them before.
Signature: Gail in the Garden

Colorado Potato Beetle Larva
Colorado Potato Beetle Larva

Dear Gail,
This is the larva of a Colorado Potato Beetle, Leptinotarsa decemlineata, a native species that originated in high altitude areas of Colorado where it fed on native plants in the nightshade family Solanaceae.  When potatoes began to be grown commercially, the range of the Colorado Potato Beetle expanded greatly.  Here is some information from BugGuide:  “Before the introduction of the potato in the US this beetle was confined to Colorado and neighboring states feeding on some native species of Solanum (night shade), now it has spread to most potato growing areas.  It has been transported to Europe where it has become a serious pest.”  Your submission will go live to our site in early June as we must postdate submissions to populate our site with new material during our short absence away from the office.

Letter 16 – Potato Bug


I know these photos are not the best, but we found this guy burying into the carpet in my daughter’s room. Please advise, my wife is freaking out!
Santa Rosa, CA.

Hi Chris,
While Potato Bugs, also known as Jerusalem Crickets and other colorful names, are frightening looking, they are harmless. They do not infest homes, but occasionally wander in. They are subterranean dwellers. Queries for their identification are one of our most common requests, second perhaps only to the House Centipede, so we always keep a photo on the homepage which you would have found if you scrolled down.

Letter 17 – Potato Bug


3 AM bug
I had a late night visitor in my apartment located in Burbank, California. I captured the bug in a drinking glass and photographed it before I put it outside. The drinking glass is about 3.5 inches in diameter (it is shown in the photos). I have never seen an insect that large in this area. Thanks for your help!

Hi Amie,
Certain insects always appear on our homepage since we get so many identification requests for them. The Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket is one. There was a photo at the bottom of the homepage.

Letter 18 – Potato Bug


What bug is this?
Hi Bugman,
I’m hoping maybe you can help me to identify this bug. This is the 2nd one I’ve found in my home and I was a little worried as my 1 year old ended up getting a very high fever today. Then I noticed this critter running across the floor. (And it was fast) It then occured to me that maybe he was bit by it earlier. I’m not certain, maybe just paranoid. But I have never seen anything like this before. To me, it almost looks like a crossbreed of some sort…part spider (but only has 6 legs), part scorpion, or some kind of beetle. I’m not a bug type person so forgive my ignorance. I’ve checked all over your site and haven’t found one like it. It was just under 2 inches long, and curled up some when I chased it down with some Raid. I live in Valley Center, CA. North San Diego County, where we have a lot of local pests including earwigs, scorpions, tarantulas, lizards & rattlesnakes. Please let me know if we have another we need to watch out for. Thank you.
Denise Harvey

Hi Denise,
We get so many letters requesting that the Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket be identified, that we always keep one on the homepage. It is harmless and not in any way responsible for your child’s fever.

Letter 19 – Potato Bug


Large Cricket?
I looked at your pictures of mole crickets and they all appeared to have wings. We occasionally find these large insects in the soil of our garden. This one is typical size – about 1.5 inches long. No wings. It’s pretty fast running on the top of the ground and definitely seeks cramped dark places. The eyes seem mostly undeveloped. Two short appendages are on the rear of the abdomen.
The SeCoy Family

Hi Family,
We haven’t gotten a picture of a Potato Bug, also known as a Jerusalem Cricket, in a long time. We have a whole page devoted to them.

Letter 20 – Potato Bug


Ok, What is it..
I’m thinking it’s some type of mole cricket, but it is considerably larger than I’ve ever seen… I’m estimating 2.5 inches long
just curious

Hi Robert,
You have a Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket which is related to Mole Crickets.

Letter 21 – Potato Bug


WTB what can you tell us about this bug.
We live in Long Beach California and it’s the second time that we have encounter this huge bug in exactly the same place in front of house. The first one just died on it’s on and the second one just seems to turn from being on its front to back.
Can you please tell us what it is.
Thank you for your help.
Eyal & Hadas

Dear Eyal and Hadas,
You have a Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket. They live underground and are sometimes driven to the surface after a heavy rain.

Letter 22 – Potato Bug


What is this?
I am trying to figure out what kind bug this is. Its about 2 inches long. The picture I sent you earlier. It closely resembles the Potato Ant as I was matching up pictures on your site. This thing frightened me because of its sheer size and pretty big choppers that looks like it could do some damage. It was in my garage and I spent 30 minutes trying to capture it since I didn’t want this thing in there and had no idea if it was a threat. After putting a tape measure to it, it was nearly 2 inches long from head to backside. I took the picture after capturing it and I am probably going to release it in the bushes away from my house. Another thing, at one point I saw it back side lifted and vibrate rapidly like a rattle snake. It was great and scary at the same time since I had no idea what it was doing or going to do. What a great site you have!
Thanks, Joe from Buellton, California

Hi Joe,
One common name for your insect is a Potato Bug, also known as a Jerusalem Cricket. They live underground. The scientific genus is Stenopelmatus. They are not poisonous but have strong jaws that can pinch.

Letter 23 – Potato Bug


beetle??? NO
This was taken in New Mexico just North of ABQ & has a hard shell that makes a "clicking" sound when it flips over on the concrete. This is in my driveway not too terribly far from the desert, but still in a new construction subdivision setting, all streets are paved & is not just raw land. Is it dangerous?
Thanks for a great informative site & for reassurance for those of us that don’t "know".
Lisa in the Sunny Southwest
Mike & Lisa Boushey

Hi Lisa and Mike,
You have sent in a photo of a Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket.

Letter 24 – Potato Bug


what is this?
a picture I took recently of a bug.
What is it?

Hi Heidi,
It is a Jerusalem Cricket, Potato Bug or Nino de la Tierra, depending on who you are talking to. They are members of the cricket order Othoptera and live underground.

Letter 25 – New California Resident discovers Potato Bug in Santa Maria


Subject:  identify bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Santa Maria California
Date: 02/14/2019
Time: 03:50 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I just found this bug on my front porch and wanted to find out what it is.  I just moved to California from back East and have never seen a bug like this before!
How you want your letter signed:  LCS

Potato Bug

Dear LCS,
Welcome to California.  This is arguably the most iconic California insect, the Potato Bug or Jerusalem Cricket, a subterranean Orthopteran that is driven to the surface by rains.  Your images are awesome.

Potato Bug

Thank you so much!  I have gotten attached to the little guy and would like to keep him but my kids think it’s weird!  So I had better put him back outside!  Have never had a “bug pet” before!!  Thanks again,  LCS


  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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Tags: Jerusalem Crickets

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12 Comments. Leave new

  • Hullo Kimberly, Your bug looks like a King Cricket from the Stenopelmatidae family, subfamily Deinacridinae, genus Australostoma. They live in borrows and tend to come out at nght when it is wet. Found in coastal NSW north to Brisbane. According to David Rentz (“Grasshopper Country”), “when handled, they produce foul-smelling anal secretions that deter predators,” so perhaps you were wise to persuade it to go outside.
    BTW I am just around the lake from you at Wangi and found a huge cricket last week when moving compost onto the vegie garden, so perhaps the big crickets are on the move!

  • hi, just found a potato bug in my basement. Do you have any idea how it ended up inside the house? Should I take stuff in the basement apart to see if there are others or do they show up by themselves?

    Thanks, Jeanette

  • gail corondoni
    October 15, 2013 12:24 pm

    We live in mountains outside of Sacramento, CA., near Placerville. Yesterday the pesticide man came and sprayed around the house. It’s my daughter’s home and they choose to do this. Today I found a large potato bug with a black striped abdomen struggling and almost paralyzed on patio. Obviously poisoned. It was having a very slow, excruciating death. I’ve seen the same with a praying mantis, also. Sometimes they live 2-3 days and try so hard to move. But they are still very aware of when I come and put my hand near them. They try to defend themselves.

    It is a pitiful sight and it breaks my heart. I don’t like to see anything suffer a slow, debilitating death. Finally, after watching the potato bug too long, and the mantis, too, I stepped on them quickly and strongly to take them out of their pain.

    The small bugs die more quickly, thank goodness. But I guess the strength of the pesticide isn’t enough to kill the large ones very fast.

    My daughter says that they have to have this done because otherwise there are so many earwigs and even scorpions that come in the house. Perhaps…but I think I’d rather deal with them without the poison. It’s heartbreaking.

    What else can be done?

  • rodney franklin
    January 22, 2014 6:38 am

    how to control potato bugs?

  • It’s a Henicus monstrosus

  • The Jerusalem Cricket is of the genus Stenopelmatus. The Potato bug is Armadillidium vulgare. Different bugs.

  • Several years ago we found a potato bug in our pool. We scooped it out and put it in a zip lock bag. We didn’t know what it was and our curiosity led us to the WTB website. It was a bit more pale in color than the photos we saw on the site, but figured that was from being in the pool. The next morning we were going to throw it away and much to our surprise, it moved! It hadn’t drowned. So, we let it loose behind the wall on the backside of our property.

  • I found one of the Potato bugs here in Douglas Wyoming yesterday. We didn’t know what it was until I found your site.


  • I grew up in Pocatello Idaho and seen these quite often in the city creek and mink-creek area.They look creepy to me and was scared of them because to me they look like they wasn’t fully developed from a mother’s womb of a species I’ve never seen, having the Partially transparent legs and feet looking kinda like hands and with their big eyes!
    (Bug eyes) ? Wondering if they are harmful in anyway?

  • I always heard that bite was poisonous


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