Jerusalem crickets (Stenopelmatus fuscus) are known by native Americans as the “Old Bald-Headed Man” due to their unique appearance. These insects have powerful jaws, beady eyes, and large round heads. But they rarely bite, unless they feel threatened. They use sharp mouth-parts to chew tubers, roots, stems or other insects. However, unlike other crickets, they do not jump but use their legs for digging soil.
How to Identify Jerusalem Crickets
Jerusalem crickets are easy to identify once you spot their human-like, bald head. In addition, these creatures are quite large, measuring about 2-3 inches as adults and are yellow or brown in color. They have black and yellow colored stripes on the top of their abdomens. Females can be distinguished from
males due to their smaller size, as well as hooks that project from the end of the abdomen.
Unlike true crickets that are from the Gryllidae insect family and possess wings, Jerusalem crickets do not have wings. They also do not produce the chirping sound we often associate with crickets. Instead, certain Jerusalem cricket species make a hissing sound by rubbing their hind legs together.
Their large head and fierce-looking jaws make them seem quite dangerous too, though these creatures usually do little harm. But watch out for the female Jerusalem crickets! Though smaller than their male counterparts, they often eat their male counterparts after mating with them. Talk about fearsome!
The Life Cycle of Jerusalem Crickets
Females lay their eggs several inches beneath the soil or rocks. They use their heads, mouth-parts and legs to burrow into the soil, creating compact nesting chambers. The eggs are white and oval-shaped. They measure more than ½ inch in length. Jerusalem cricket eggs remain in the soil during winter and hatch when springtime comes along. During their immature stages which lasts until around fall, the Jerusalem crickets feed on plant roots and decaying plant matter.
Unlike certain insects that may live for a few to several years, these crickets have a very short adulthood lasting just about 2 months. During this period, female, and adult Jerusalem crickets feed and mate. They can sometimes be seen in commercial potato fields, in gardens or lurking underneath rocks or wood piles.
Jerusalem crickets do not like dry weather and will on occasion move into homes in search of a more favorable habitat during dry spells. They also live much more solitary lives compared to insects that rely on living within large groups for protection. Due to their large size, they are attractive food sources for predators like eagles, badgers, and coyotes.
Are Jerusalem Crickets Poisonous?
Jerusalem crickets are not poisonous. Though their bite can often be painful due to their powerful jaws, these insects do not produce venom. Moreover, they rarely ever bite humans. During instances where they feel threatened, they may bite though so refrain from touching them unless necessary.
In rare cases, a Jerusalem cricket’s bite can result in an allergic reaction. If the swelling and pain associated with the bite worsens, seek medical attention.
Signs of a Jerusalem Cricket Infestation
Though Jerusalem cricket infestation is not very common, it does occur. The sight of even a few of these insects can be frightening for any homeowner, especially due to their large size and jaws. The most likely sign of an infestation is the crickets themselves. They will enter homes through cracks or other openings usually in search of dark, favorable environs. Though their favorite habitat is the garden or flowerbed, homes can provide shelter as well as food for these pests.
These nocturnal creatures are also more likely to invade homes during drier periods when these insects search for moisture. Don’t be surprised to find them lurking in dark corners of your home or in areas where they can scavenge food that includes other insects, vegetable peel or even fruits. They’ll eat just about anything in your pantry!
Gardeners may spot Jerusalem crickets under rocks during the day time. They may even discover several of these pests in their soil while they tend to their plants. Though the sight might be frightening be sure to take some time to observe your environs before you think to run away! A good look will reveal whether it’s an actually infestation or just a few crickets are present.