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Insect Identification

Dark Jerusalem Cricket - (Stenopelmatus nigrocapitatus)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 5/12/2014

The humpback, huge head and large body size can cause wonder and confusion when first glimpsing the Dark Jerusalem Cricket.

Picture of Dark Jerusalem Cricket
Pic of the Dark Jerusalem Cricket
Image of the Dark Jerusalem Cricket
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Dark Jerusalem Crickets are a slow-moving, wingless species of cricket common in the southwestern U.S. and Mexico. They are rather large for a cricket and have a bulbous, round head. The most easily identifiable feature of this insect is its humpbacked abdomen featuring black and yellowish striped lines. This type of cricket has large jaws and can deliver a painful bite if mishandled, but it has also been kept as a 'pet'. This critter can be found hiding under logs, rocks and sometimes in homes.

The Jerusalem Cricket has earned itself several playful nicknames including "Potato Bug" (not to be confused with the Potato Beetle which is also called that name), "Earth Baby" and "Nino de la Tierra" (meaning "Child of the Earth").

Mating season occurs in the spring. Females will dig a shallow hole in loose soil and lay her eggs. Nymphs look like small versions of the adult and are equally as slow-moving. Their abdomens are large and heavy, often dragged on the ground, which leaves unique tracks as the Dark Jerusalem Cricket walks. This also produces a scratching noise.

Adults and nymphs eat other insects, potatoes, roots of various plants and decaying plant matter. They are active both day and night, searching for food.

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Category: Grasshopper or Cricket
Common name: Dark Jerusalem Cricket
Scientific Name: Stenopelmatus nigrocapitatus
Other Names: Earth Baby; Potato Bug; Nino de la Tierra / Child of the Earth, Chaco

  Kingdom: Animalia
   Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
     Order: Orthoptera
      Family: Stenopelmatidae
       Genus: Stenopelmatus
        Species: nigrocapitatus

Adult Size (Length): 30mm to 50mm (1.18in to 1.97in) COMPARE

Identifying Colors: black; white; yellow; brown

General Description: humpback, bump, large, biting

North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Arizona; California; Nevada; New Mexico; Utah; Mexico

* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.

NOTE: Material presented throughout this website is for entertainment value and should not to be construed as usable for scientific research or medical advice (insect bites, etc...). Please consult licensed, degreed professionals for such information. Email corrections / Comments to InsectIdentification at Gmail dot com.
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