The humpback, huge head, and large body size create wonder and confusion when first glimpsing the Dark Jerusalem Cricket.
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 yellow bands. Thick hind legs have a whorl of fleshy 'toes' near the foot. This type of cricket has large jaws and can deliver a painful bite if mishandled, but it has also been kept as a 'pet'. Dark Jerusalem Crickets can be found hiding under logs and rocks, walking over sandy soil, and even inside homes.
The Dark 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 just as slow-moving. Their abdomens are large and heavy, often dragging on the ground while they walk, which leaves grooved tracks. This also produces a scratching noise, so sometimes the cricket is heard before it is seen. 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.
Scientific Name: Stenopelmatus nigrocapitatus
Other Name(s): Earth Baby; Potato Bug; Nino de la Tierra / Child of the Earth, Chaco
Grasshopper or Cricket
Size (Adult; Length): 30mm to 50mm (1.17in to 1.95in)
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