Stenopelmatus (taxonomic family)
Prefer more arid habitats and are most commonly found in loose dirt, sandy soil, and under rocks where it is easiest for them to burrow underground; people have also reported finding them in their gardens and compost piles
Native to the western half of the United States and northern Mexico
Vulnerable (IUCN Red List)
This species is
to the Truckee Meadows.
Jerusalem crickets (also commonly called "potato bugs") is a North American insect that looks a lot like a large bulbous cricket. Jerusalem crickets can be identified by their 6 legs, large jaws on a smooth face, and a round body with black and tan/orange striped coloration on its abdomen. Adults can grow up to be 2 to 3 inches long. These wingless, six-legged bugs are slow moving and mostly nocturnal. Potato bugs feed primarily on dead plant matter and smaller insects where available, they will also suck out the juices of live plant stems and leaves. Unlike crickets who rub their legs together to communicate, potato bugs use their abdomen and legs to make a drumming sound to serenade each other during mating season.
Potato bugs are slow compared to other insects as well as being quite docile. However, if they are handled wrong or provoked, they will use their large jaws to inflict a rather painful bite.
Jerusalem crickets are non-venomous.
Each species of Jerusalem cricket has its own unique drumming pattern used to find a mate.
Insect Identification, Jerusalem Cricket, 2021, https://www.insectidentification.org/insect-description.php?identification=Jerusale m-Cricket
IUCN Red List, Stenopelmatus, 2021,, https://www.iucnredlist.org/search?taxonomies=100916&searchType=species
Leafy Place, Does a Potato Bug Bite? All the Facts about Potato Bug(Jerusalem Cricket), 2021 https://leafyplace.com/potato-bug/
KQED, Jerusalem Crickets Only Date Drummers, 2019, https://www.kqed.org/science/1932923/jerusalem-crickets-only-date-drummers
Image: Greg Schecter, https://www.flickr.com/photos/gregthebusker/5797428429/, license https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/, cropped from original.
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