BACKYARD MONSTERS? NOPE, JERUSALEM CRICKETS!

By Arthur V. Evans

Jerusalem crickets of the genus Stenopelmatus (Greek for “narrow foot”) are found in a variety of habitats throughout much of western North and Central America. This individual was photographed in Costa Rica. Their large, humanoid heads have inspired fear and superstition wherever they are found. However, they are not venomous and bite only when handled.

My first encounter with one of these giant, almost ant-like creatures occurred when I was about seven or eight years old and living on the fringes of the Mojave Desert in southern California. The inch-long insect had thread like antennae attached to an oversized head, a wingless narrow midsection armed with thick spiny legs and a fat abdomen distinctly banded in black and tan. I approached the animal cautiously, but closer inspection revealed that the insect was dead, frozen forever in a sprawling, lifelike pose. I carefully picked up the stiff corpse and presented it to my dad, who told me it was a Jerusalem cricket.

Resembling a cross between Jiminy Cricket and a Cootie, Jerusalem crickets – or JCs as they are fondly known by some – are impressive animals. Their large, round and naked heads are fitted with two small black eyes suggesting the head of a child. Jerusalem crickets are often the subject of fear and superstition and have been given a variety of monikers.

They have been dubbed Child of the Earth or Niña del la Tierra in Spanish. The Navajo thought them deadly poisonous and called them “wó se ts´inii,’ or the “skull insect” or “bone neck beetle.”  Their powerful jaws are used for digging and chewing roots. Jerusalem crickets can bite with considerable force if handled, but are not poisonous in any way. In California, JCs are known as potato bugs due to their predilection for nibbling on potatoes and other crops in direct contact with the soil. Extensive damage to crops and gardens by these insects is rare. They also occasionally scavenge dead animal matter and may engage in cannibalism. The name “Jerusalem cricket” is believed to have originated in the 19th century when ‘Jerusalem’ was a commonly used as an expletive. It is easy to imagine that unexpected encounters with these crickets could easily illicit such outbursts until the name eventually stuck!

Jerusalem crickets, including the genera: Ammopelmatus, Stenopelmatus and Viscainopelmatus, belong the family Stenopelmatidae and are related to crickets and katydids. They resemble the large king crickets of South Africa and the giant wetas of New Zealand, both of which are now classified in the family Anostotsmatidae.

From the "Dark Side of Entomology." California Academy of Sciences.

Jerusalem crickets are distributed throughout much of western North and Central America, where they live in almost every imaginable habitat from coastal and desert sand dunes to montane and tropical forests. Of the more than 100 species of JCs known, only about a third been formally described in the scientific literature. Most of the 60-80 species living in the western United States call California home.

The Kelso Jerusalem Cricket (Ammopelmatus kelsoensis), Point Conception Jerusalem Cricket (Ammopelmatus muwu) and Coachella Valley Jerusalem Cricket (Stenopelmatus cahuilaensis) are all restricted to coastal or desert dunes. These sandy habitats are under assault from developers, off-road vehicle use, and agricultural interests. The localized distribution and sensitivity to habitat disruption of these and other JCs require further study and may result federal or state protection.

Adult males are distinguished by a pair of small black hooks located between the cerci, a pair of short projections near the tip of the abdomen. Adult females have the short blades of their egg-laying tube or ovipositor located just beneath the cerci.

Sexually receptive males and virgin females drum their abdomens on the soil to attract species of their own kind. The drumming is audible nearly 60 feet away and is “heard” by special organs located near the bottom of each leg of the JC.

Courtship involves a bit of a tussle and sometimes resembles an energetic wrestling match as the male grapples for position. Eventually the male deposits a sperm packet, after which the female may kill and eat her mate. The function of the sperm packet in JCs is not understood. In other crickets and katydids the packet not only provides the female with reproductive materials and a nutritious snack, it also serves to block the amorous advances of other males.

Eggs are probably laid in small clutches in the soil soon after mating. They are oval and white with a roughened surface. In California, JCs reach adulthood during the summer. Small nymphs appear either by fall or early the following spring. Hatchlings resemble miniature adults and may take nearly two years to develop, while individuals experiencing nutritional deficiencies or parasitic infections may take up to five years. Nymphs may molt up to eleven times before reaching maturity. Like stick insects, JCs can regenerate legs lost during molting. In time, the new leg may approximate a normal leg in size, increasing in size with each successive molt.

Plump and juicy, JCs are an excellent potential food source for many animals. Bats, coyotes, foxes and owls prey them upon. It is not uncommon to find their droppings and pellets studded with the tough and distinctive remains of JCs mixed with the bones and fur of other animals.

Tachinid flies and horsehair worms attack and parasitize Jerusalem crickets. Dead JCs found in or near pools and streams are often infested with horsehair worms that must emerge from the body of the host and complete their life cycle in the water.

When threatened, JCs may suddenly kick out to brandish their thick spiny hind legs, menacingly raising them up over their body. Others will somersault on their backs, flailing their spiny legs forcefully in the air. Their mandibles are opened wide, capable of delivering a painful nip. Some species produce a scraping sound when agitated by scraping their legs against rough plates on the side of the abdomen. A few Mexican and Central American species are even capable of jumping when disturbed.

Jerusalem crickets are usually found under objects on the ground during the cooler, wetter months of the year. Trails of oatmeal left along paths will attract foraging crickets that will follow the food-laden path as they feed. Pitfall traps (cans or jars sunk in the ground so the opening is flush with the surface) baited with oatmeal will also attract hungry JCs.

Jerusalem crickets do well in captivity. Because of their cannibalistic tendencies they must kept in separate containers. Fill an eight-ounce margarine tub with damp, sterilized, fine-grained sand and cover with a lid punched with a few small holes. The containers must be kept cool since temperatures exceeding 70 ºF may not only be harmful to JCs, but also encourages the development of mites.  Humidity is critical. The substrate must be kept moist, but not wet, at all times.

Fresh slices of apple or potato offered every 7-10 days will not only provide your animals with nutrition, but also help maintain humidity. Add washed romaine lettuce and “old-fashioned” oatmeal. Jerusalem crickets will also eat bread, grass roots and a variety of vegetables. Supplement their weekly feedings with bits of raw meat or soft-bodied insects such as greater wax moth larvae (Galleria melonella). Remove uneaten food items after a few days to prevent the growth of potentially harmful molds.

Both immature and adult JCs have been kept successfully in captivity, but reports on egg-laying have never been published. In the wild, eggs are probably laid well below the surface so they are not subjected to freezing temperatures.

Nymphs molt on their backs with the old exoskeleton positioned behind them. After molting is complete, the JC will right itself and eat the caste, recycling vital minerals needed for the development of the new exoskeleton.

Throughout the western United States JCs are familiar, yet exotic, insects. In spite of their secretive nature, they still make unusual and interesting pets, even if kept only for a short period. Much remains to be learned about these incredible animals. Carefully recorded observations of your captive JCs may help to reveal their mysterious lives.

References

Field, L.H. (editor). 2001. The biology of wetas, king crickets, and their allies. CABI Publishing. Wellingford, UK.

Poinar, G. and D.B. Weissman. 2004. Horsehair worms and nematode infections of North America Jerusalem crickets, field crickets, and katydids (Orthoptera: Stenopelmatidae, Gryllidae, and Tettigoniidae). Journal of Orthoptera Research 13(1): 143-147.

Weissman, D. 2005. Jerusalem? Cricket! (Orthoptera: Stenopelmatidae: Stenopelmatus); origins of a common name. American Entomologist 51(3): 138-139)

Weissman, D. The dark side of entomology. http://www.calacademy.org/science_now/archive/where_in_the_world/jerusalem_crickets.php (accessed 16 March 2011)

© 2010, A.V. Evans

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125 Responses to “BACKYARD MONSTERS? NOPE, JERUSALEM CRICKETS!”

  1. My husbands cousin found a Jerusalem cricket in Maitland Missouri on a farm they own. He called me and asked me if I had ever heard of a Child of the Earth, and I told him I had, that they were called Jerusalem Crickets, he let me know he had one and where he had found it. I was so excited. He put it in a container with another cricket and the native (to Missouri) cricket ate the Jerusalem cricket. He had been saving it for me, and I was incredibly disappointed to learn of its demise. Maitland Missouri is approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes north of Kansas City. I thought it was highly unusual for one to be here.

  2. I saw a jc while living in california about 13 yrs ago. I dont remember many details, but I do remember the human-like face, the round abdomen, tan color, and it was walking on its hind legs. I was very scared and trapped it in a container, where it died.

    • WE just found one in our yard in Pacific Beach, CA…
      it is stormy out and he /she is just hanging out on the pathway…
      havent seen one of these for a very long time.

  3. OMG I am freaking out. We just found this in our garage here in South Jordan, Utah. I captured it in a jar. I want to take it to the museum or something tomorrow :) haha. I’m still freaking out azshhahhsidkjfhaksdjfkasjahhhhhh

  4. My parents found a jerusalem cricket in their pool in northern california. It is 2.5 inches long and weighs 15 grams. Everything i read online makes this one sound unusually large. Is it?

    • It is a big one! Contact Dr. David Weissman . He is studying them and might be interested in your specimen if it is still in good shape.

      • Mr. Evans
        Im writing a fictitious story about jerusalem crickets and am hoping to acquire as much behavioral information as i can about the niño de la tierra… Is there a way i can contact dr. Weissman that i may perhaps gather a little more insight on this insect? Or yourself if you have any more information ot could be crucial. Thank you dr. Art evans i hope to hear back :)

      • You can contact David Weissman directly at gryllus1@juno.com.

  5. Sarah Jane Says:

    I have one now in a container ready to ship to Dr. Weissman. We live in Venice Beach, California. My toddler found it yesterday in her little plastic beach bag we had left outdoors for a few days. “Mommy, there’s a ladybug in my bag! Come see!” she said. You can imagine my reaction when I pretty much stuck my head right into the bag, expecting a tiny ladybug, and found myself eye to eye with a nearly two-inch JC instead!

    Thanks for all the wonderful information on this gorgeous (if at first a little scary) creature. I wondered if we’d ever figure out what it is and what to do with it. It’s so nice to know it’s going somewhere other than back outside to be eaten by something or stepped on!

    • Thanks for your note Sarah Jane! I can only imagine your surprise! I am glad that your JC will be serving science instead of being unceremoniously dispatched!
      All the best, ART EVANS

      “Dr. Art Evans, entomologist” is on Facebook.

      • Well, a little update…the JC we found last November didn’t make it to Dr. Weissman, as it turned out he had enough specimens from our area of the world. We ended up keeping him as a pet, following your advice to feed him apples, potatoes, and oatmeal. Fully grown when found, he survived over a year more in captivity, in a terraneum on our kitchen counter, much to the surprise (and sometimes horror) of unsuspecting guests. He mostly stayed buried under the soil and could be shown to people only by lifting the clear terraneum up to have a peek through the bottom. The day he died, he came up to the top of the soil of his little home and wandered around. I knew something was amiss, because he normally only emerged at night. The next day, the day before Thanksgiving, 2011, we found him motionless on the top of the soil. I buried him in the rose garden soon afterwards.

        Funny that this little friend was such a part of our household for so long. We will miss him! Thanks to you again for all the information.

      • Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  6. I found a rather large one in my church nursery this past Sunday.
    I saw two 2yr olds huddling in the corner of the room. Wondering what was up I walked over to find them watching a large alien bug. I had no idea what it was but I quickly scooped it up in a Dixie cup and threw it over the playground wall.
    I regretted not keeping it, thinking that I had just seen some mutant species and should have taken it to UCLA. It “bugged” me so much that I called an exterminator to describe it and he gave me the name. I guess the rain this weekend drove it inside.
    Thank you for calming my fears and the info on your page.

  7. Hello! We’ve found several near a small creek in our backyard. Needless to say, the kids (and myself) didn’t love discovering them. They are abundant where we live which is in Marin County in Northern California. We do have one that looked as if it was dying and we placed it in a container (to show our exterminator) and he told us it was a Jerusalem Cricket. Are you still in need of them?

  8. I used to find these in my house quite often when we lived in Tehachapi, CA. I never knew what they were and they creeped me out. I told my grandma about them and she told me they were called Child of the earth. Now I wish I could find one because my son has a High School project and has to collect 30 different insects for display.

  9. [...] PARKER: One of my personal backyard favorites is the Jerusalem Cricket (Stenopelmatus sp.), which is also known as the potato bug or niña de la tierra (child of the [...]

  10. they are so big my grandmother she lives in Mexico founder one near her swimming pool a very big one

  11. [...] One of my personal backyard favorites is the Jerusalem cricket (Stenopelmatus sp.), which is also known as the potato bug or niña de la tierra (child of [...]

  12. Thank you for all of your information on this creature of the earth. I grew up in California and and as a child was very afraid of them even having nightmares of them coming after me with their large jaws! Now I live in Arizona and can be more afraid of scorpions stinging me! Not really, no fear anymore and just enjoy all of God’s creatures.

  13. I recently moved into a house on the border of Fountain Valley and Santa Ana. I’m absolutely amazed at how many JC’s we have living on our property here. To my utter disappointment they come into our house at night quite frequently. What makes this seemingly strange is that I have yet to hear any reference to them living in strong numbers like this. I was hoeing a patch of dirt in the front portion of house today and I came across around twenty and this was not a large area. I would love to know if this is common or not. Please write with any information that would shed light on this strange infestation.

    • I am not aware of specific information on the population densities of JCs. However, I would not be surprised to find as many as you describe living in soil rich in organic content. As for them entering your home on a regular basis, there must be some gaps or spaces where JCs can gain entrance that are associated with the door jams and foundation. For the former, check the door sweeps to make sure that they meet the thresholds. Door snakes may help with this in the short run should you find a problem with the former. Carefully walk around the house to inspect the latter and look for gaps and other openings at or near ground level.

      Good luck!

    • david weissman Says:

      Scott,
      I just came across your message to Dr. Evans and write because there is possibly a new species of JC in your area and I am hoping that is what you are finding at your house. Please write back to me so that we can discuss. I am the person that Dr. Evans discusses as studying this group. Thanks much!
      Dave

  14. Lisa Hunt Says:

    I am very sorry that we didn’t take pictures of the biggewst one we found. We live in Price, Ut and in the late 1990’s we found a 4 to 5 inch one. we weren’t sure what we had at the time. We put it in a bottle and it got passed around alot trying to find out what it was. It terrified me. It finally died. Since then I see the 2 inchers all the time. One of the farmers I work with said that he sees them that big on his farm alot but he called them a sand baby and I now know it definately wasn’t that. to bad we didn’t have digital cameras then.

    • Late in the 90’s, I saw a huge JC on afternoon on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in California. It was so big that I thought it was a crab from a distance, but it was too far inland. I had no camera or container with me!!

      • are you an entomologist? here’s my story – let me know what you think. About a month ago as I was coming into the house after getting out of my car. I felt something crawling up the inside of my capri leg. as it looked like something quite large, I quickly whipped off my pants, screaming the whole time and this giant potato bug comes scurrying out. pretty bizarre, huh. well wait.
        two nites ago it happened again! this time I was wearing long pants and again I had just gotten out of my car – this time the car was in the garage. I am convinced they are somehow dropping onto my pants leg from inside my car. could that be possible? I can think of no other explanation. This whole thing is creeping my out – I feel like I’m in a horror movie. having one of these things crawling on you is no fun. Any thoughts or suggestions?

      • Yes, I am an entomologist. Feel free to visit my FB page at “Dr. Art Evans, Entomologist” at .

        I cannot account for why JCs would be in your car. Is it possible that someone is pranking you? JCs are not very good climbers, so it seems unlikely to me that they would enter a car on their own. The only other possibility that I can think of is that they are hitchhiking on something placed in the car. Are you carrying potted plants, mulch, or any other kind of substrates in your vehicle? Where is your car parked?

      • The only prank could be from the dealer so I think that is unlikely. I did buy my car in May – a German car right off the boat – and I understand that is when JCs lay eggs. I have not carried anything in my car other than groceries and I park in the garage at nite. The first time it happened was in the middle of the day after coming home from errands. I live in So Cal in urban area. The second incidence was at nite upon returning from movies where car was parked in underground parking. Driving my car is becoming distracting as I am always checking the floor under my feet. My car is the only variable in both cases which is why I think they are in my car. Nothing else seems to make sense.

      • I am at a loss to explain why they would be in your car.

  15. I live in Morro Bay. Today, we came across a specimen in our front yard, clearly dying. Was 4-5 inches easily. HUGE. I thought it was a young rat from a distance. Hopefully it will be there in the morning for pictures. Hence why I’m looking this up. They look intelligent; and I’m curious as to their full lifespan in the wild has ever been recorded?

  16. My son found what looks like a JC in Idaho. We have never seen one before. It is interesting looking.

  17. Just found one in my driveway! awesome looking! about two inches i live in San Diego!

  18. I live in a wooded area in Marin Co. Calif. I find these in my house all the time. It is a nightmare, and I do not know how they get in. I have a square bucket in my garage next to a cement wall, and about once a month, I find one in there. They must fall in somehow.Any idea on how to stop them? I found one in my shoe!

  19. [...] Good times. And indeed, now that the autumn Arachnid Invasion has subsided, it’s time again for the Extraterrestrial Migration of the Giant Jerusalem Crickets [...]

  20. BIG JOHNNY Says:

    I just ran into two at my home in Riverside, CA. within a 15 min period.. so huge, so scary. At first i thought it was a giant poisonus tarantula.. Glad it turned out to be the worlds largest, juicy, scary looking cricket out. Sorry if i seem ignorant, i am still a little worked up.. Before knowing what this creature was i left to spend the night at my mom’s house to be able to sleep.. I was scared my dogs would not make it through the night though.. Thanks for info and assurance!!!!!!! i think tomorrow i will be able to go back home and sleep.

  21. I first found a JC in a house crawling on a rug after I moved to LA after a couple of years. I had never seen anything like it, was a little scary at first even for a large size man like me. But I really respect them especially now after finding out their name and what areas they live in. I never saw one in Chicago from whenst I came because it’s too cold in the winter, makes sense. It’s habitat is mostly in warmer climates with sand mixed in with the dirt seems like. I regularly dig for them in my backyard now and am attempting to breed them. You see they are perfect feeder food for turtles and larger tropical fish like Oscars. They love them, turtles actually take two ends of one and tear it apart and swallow it whole. They are amazing beautiful creatures but can give a wicked sting. I dig them up usually takes at least 30 shovel fulls to find one. I turn the dirt over and sift through til I discover one. They are much easier to spot than an earthworm, because of their bright color. I find them best in the fall/winter because they are hibernating and laying eggs. Tried to keep one but it crawled out of the container I had him in. Will try again. Nobody sells them though. You can’t find them like you can worms or crickets for sale. But I will try again. Here is my blog: http://www.petsafehome.blogspot.com

  22. David Schlagel Says:

    While hiking in Southern Utah my wife and I came across a large one on the path. Being form Minnesota we were not sure what we were looking at. Thought is was a mutant crayfish or something of that sort since we were hiking along a stream.

    It was approx 4-4-1/2 inches long. We took pictures and emailed one to a bug exterminating company in Utah who informed us of the JC.

    Do they bite and are they venomous?

  23. Growing up in S. Ca. I came across these monsters many times. Never knew what it was until I contacted the Santa Barbara university entomology dept a few years ago. I now live in WI and no one believed my stories about these creatures. Until I proved it. Now they don’t want to go to CA. Lol.

  24. We live in Corona, CA next to the mountains at the top of Green River. Since moving here a year ago, I’ve found two scorpions (one got in the house), a Tarantula, and now I find this crazy looking Jerusalem Cricket at the bottom of the pool. It’s always neat to see something and say to yourself “now wtf is that?”. This is a very fun place to live indeed.

  25. When I was a sophomore in high school, I was assigned to present an insect collection for our biology class. I happened upon a JC (not huge but definitely daunting) so I humanely put it to death (or so I thought) and pinned it through the abdomen to my specimen board.

    After a day or two I heard a scratching noise on my board… it was the JC… RESURRECTED (but still pinned to the board) and exacting his revenge upon me by spinning on the pin through it’s abdomen and EATING all the other specimens within his reach!!!

    I’ll never forget it… but I will say this… NOBODY in my class had one and I scored an A (but only after replacing all the specimens he ATE)

  26. guys i hv seen some here in Botswana(AFRICA)The reddish brown ones wth big and long abdomen,looked scary! produced some hushing sound when i poked them with a stick.I was so sure they are poisonous i even developd a phobia! My grand ma says they hv always been around even when she was young! i just checked them on the internet,described them fully and the images i saw came out! i thot they are not yet discovered!

    • These are very impressive animals! The African relatives of Jerusalem crickets are called king crickets. As far as I know, there are seven genera: Borborothus, Onosandrus Onosandridus, Nasidius Henicus, Libanasa, and Libanasidus. The last genus include the famous “Parktown Prawn.” There are other species that have yet to be described.

  27. I live in North Texas. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of these little guys in my yard. Every night they crawl out of little burrows scattered across my lawn and cover the ground. I have seen them on occasion in the past, but never in these numbers.

  28. Buddy Nash Says:

    We live in the S/F Bay area and are finding numerous JCs in our swimming pool almost daily and we even find them in the house. Anybody know a good deterrent?

  29. Hello all, I just found 6 of these on a small wood pile I have in my yard. Oddly enough I am in NJ!!! Anyone hear of them getting all the way out here. I took a video of it on my phone!

  30. My daughter just found one while cleaning horse manure out of the corral, here in Twinfalls, Idaho. It is weird looking.

  31. A friend in California recently sent me one of these guys (I used to live there & saw them in my carport quite often, and missed them). I would like to get a group of them going in my private “bug” collection, and I would love for anyone who has an abundance of them to contact me so that I could maybe get a few more so that I have enough to mate. I raise mantids & roaches of many varieties, and I would like to do some research on getting these guys to breed in captivity as well. Any help or info would be great!

  32. Tate, Zoe, Arin & Remi Says:

    We live in the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming, where it is arid and sandy. My kids and I are always turning them up, under things around the property and seeing them crawling about. Always a thrill due their size and ominous appearance.

  33. Claudia D. Says:

    Good evening! Me and my boy’s just seen one (very large about 3 inches) we are in the East Bay area. Don’t know if there were more. My first time seeing one in Northern California. We were just walking along a trail and it happened to be just crossing the path :) it was getting dark out.

  34. Jake Bosley Says:

    I found one last night. I live in Stephenville, Texas probably the creepiest little thing Ive seen in a while

  35. I live in Salt Lake City, Utah. Late last night I could hear some noise coming from my bathroom. I went in the room several times and looked around, but never saw anything. When I woke up this morning, there was a JC stuck in a glue board that I put down a few weeks ago to catch spiders. I had no idea what it was as I have never heard of or seen them before. The JC had dragged the glue board out in to the middle of the room and had also chewed up part of the glue board trying to get unstuck.

    It wasn’t moving so I thought it was dead. I scooped up the glue board and was going to take it outside when the JC started chewing on the glue board again.

    While I am party horrified by it, I am also kind of impressed that it was strong enough to drag the glue board and also smart enough to try to chew his way out. Mostly I catch spiders that just get stuck and don’t try to escape.

    I don’t mind if JCs live outside around my house, but I do not want them coming inside my house. Besides for trying to seal up any gaps or holes where critters could get in, are there any other things that will deter them from coming inside?

  36. Just saw my first! in Salt Lake City definately curious as to what it was. Thanks for all the info!

  37. I live south of Nampa, Idaho. We found the body parts of the Jerusalem cricket scattered over about a foot area square on our deck (about 6 feet above ground level) and more in a cement alcove at the side of the house (this one was near our wood pile)at ground level. Is this the left overs of their molting? Why on the deck? Or were they attack and brought there by a predator? There were lots of legs lying around, only one abdomen and about 3 heads. Over the past couple of weeks, I have noticed some black droppings which I thought might be mice in the alcove area. What do their droppings look like? I’m always curious about all these new (to me) insects we find in this area of idaho – from the camel spiders to the black widow and wolf spiders and even the bright red ones that are fuzzy on the back whose name I haven’t discovered yet. This JC and the camel spiders sure rate high on the ugly bug scale.

  38. I found one in my house this morning after it rained. Live in Oceanside. I thought it was a tarantula at first… I was completely terrified and made my husband squarish it right away. I have a 7 month old who is crawling everywhere and I leave the doors/ windows open frequently for the fresh air… How likely is it the JC’s family is living outside and waiting to move in?

    • Although equipped with powerful jaws and spiny legs to defend themselves, JCs are not venomous. They are solitary animals and can be common depending on the habitat surrounding your home. Regularly watered lawns and gardens provide attractive habitats for JCs. Leaving doors open, especially in the evening and early morning hours will provide them with an opportunity to crawl inside your home. Removing plants growing right up against your house, especially ground covers, will help to cut down on the number of these and other crawling insects and spiders found immediately outside your house.

  39. I have a fear that consumes me. I went to go to the restroom and there it was…in the bathroo scratching at the tub. ITS INSIDE!!! HOW DO THEY GET INSIDE AND DO THEIR FRIENDS FOLLOW THEM???? Please give me answers. I am so tired and cannot sleep untill I get answers. I am in heavy tears right now, that I cant breath. I need to know if I will see them in the house and how oftem

    • I am sorry that JCs are getting in to your home and causing you such distress. I suggest checking your door thresholds to make sure that there are no gaps through which they can crawl. Inspect the outside of your home for any gaps between walls and plumbing or vents, etc., especially those that are low to the ground, and seal them. Removing ivy and other-ground cover plants that grow right up against the outside of your home will help to discourage JCs and other crawling insects from getting inside, too.

  40. mahala keller Says:

    we live in Norman oklahoma and recently had a wildfire that destroyed our home. Before the fire we never saw these creatures but now we have seen 3 all about 2 inches do you think the wildfire made them surface

  41. I just found one about 30min ago on my front porch at night and it was about 3 inches long never seen this creature before. I took a picture to look up the creature. I killed it because I thought it was sure poisoned.

  42. I just found one about 30min ago in Oceanside, CA on my front porch at night and it was about 3 inches long never seen this creature before. I took a picture to look up the creature. I killed it because I thought it was sure poisoned.

  43. I have found a few of these in some unlikely places in my home since it started to rain here in Marin County. The last one I found in the sink in one of the bathrooms. If it can’t fly, how does it get there? It seemed to show up out of nowhere as another family member had just used the sink a few minutes earlier.

    We have probably found about 10 of them in the house since we moved in about 9 months ago, mostly by hearing them making a scratchy kind of sound. I know of a few possible entry points in to the house, but I keep finding them in some very unlikely places, so how do they get around? Once discovered, these guys seem to play dead as a defense, don’t move at all even if you touch them, which doesn’t seem to match what I’ve read about their defenses. Just curious if anyone else noticed the same.

  44. I saw one in North Carolina digging in some sand back in Sept of 07. I thought it was weirdest insect I had ever seen and always wondered what it was. Now I know it was a JC.

  45. Hi, I am interested in seeing if this bug (now black maybe due to decay) is a JC. My daughter found it outside our home in our backyard. Is it possible to email a picture to you? We live north of San Francisco about 40 miles. I would love to know what we have stumbled across, it’s the biggest bug I have ever seen. Do you have a current email address? Thank you.

  46. greg grren Says:

    Are there Entemology sites or any place to buy JC specimens? ( pinned, or otherwise ?)
    I have been telling my uber-bughunter nephew about these creatures, and he would be so awe struck to see one in person!

  47. We live in West LA where they are a frequent visitor to a certain dark, damp section of our backyard. They like children’s sandboxes too. They are certainly startling but you can grow to love them I think.

  48. Dr. Evans, what species is the “‘mahogany’ species” found in the San Gabriel mountains of Ca?

    • david weissman Says:

      The “mahogeny” Jerusalem cricket from southern CA is just one of many undescribed species present in CA. I am in the process of revising the whole group which will include many descriptions of new species. Be patient, please, for that new name!
      Dave Weissman

  49. Do you know the approximate range of an individual JC? We are putting in a vegetable garden and I have found a few in the area and would like to know how far away to relocate them. I have never had a problem with them in my ornamental beds, but assume they could pose a threat to root vegetables and the like.

    Also, if you need any samples from Butte Co., I live in Paradise, Ca. and would be happy to help!

    • Good question! I am not aware of any studies on the movements of individual JCs. Dr. David Weissman has been studying them for years. You might contact him directly to see if he can use specimens from your area, or give you an idea about their movements.

    • david weissman Says:

      Anna,
      Since they walk around at night, they could get just about anywhere. But they don’t eat much so I wouldn’t worry. And I would like to take you up on your offer to send me live ones from Paradise. Please send me your email address so I can send you directions. I will pay for postage. Thanks!
      Dave W.

  50. DENISE MCCANTS Says:

    I Am here in Bakersfield, Ca. And my son and nephew ran across a JC and it was scary. I am a native of California and I can actually say I have not seen anything like this ever. #scary

  51. I saw my first Nino de la tierra in Hobbs Nm back in 2004. It creeped me out! It was about 4 inches long and my chihuahua killed it. My brother told me they were extremely venemous! Known to drop a grown man in seconds upon stinging them. So glad to read they are not for I feared them from then on and they arr common in NM. Also saw my first vingron. Very creepy and told also venemous, also a myth!

  52. Ray Gilley Says:

    While repairing a broken water line I discovred a JC in the slushy mud. Called my sister-in-law who was a biology teacher in hi school. She told me the cricket was not found in West Virginia. I know better.

  53. [...] “woh-seh-tsinni” or “bald-headed man” in English. The Navajo, according to Arthur Evans, also believed that the Jerusalem cricket was poisonous because of their strong bite, but the [...]

  54. Dustin Darger Says:

    I went camping out at a place called Moon Rocks here in Nevada last night and woke up when the rain started to drip into my tent, we packed up and much to my dismay there was one under my tent! At first I thought it was a Mormon Cricket as we get those here a lot, but upon further investigation it was a JC. Home now, in Washoe County NV I have been turning everything over trying to find some as its still raining and they aren’t here. I guess that makes sense, I live right next to a huge field and haven’t seen any in the last 16 years I have been living here.

    • found one in sparks on my porch tonight. never seen one before either, scared the crap out of me. caught him under a scotch glass and he posed for some facebook pictures. may keep him as a pet XD

  55. Hi, I just found your site and thank you so much for all the information! My daughter brought home what we think is a JC grub that she found in her school’s greenhouse when taking care of the plants there. We have been keeping it for the last 7 weeks in some coconut “dirt” and it recently seems to be ill (it has a darker spot on it’s back and I found it on laying the top of the dirt today). Can you tell us what kind of soil is best (our hissing cockroaches, snake, and toad all use the reconstituted coconut “dirt” from the pet store) and how long it takes for them to turn from grub to cricket? Thank you so much from Billings, Montana!

    • Thanks for your note and interest in JCs! Any reasonably sterile and moist, but not wet substrate should work. Jerusalem crickets undergo gradual metamorphosis, so their nymphs look like a smaller version of the adult. If your insect is a grub, then it has to be another type of insect. Feel free to email me a photo of your grub and maybe I can provide you with a bit more information.

      • Thank you for your reply, the insect grub recently changed into a pupa and we now think that it may be a June bug. Good luck with your insect studies and thank you again for maintaining such an informative site!

  56. Wylda Cafferata Says:

    My husband and I were hiking int the southern part of the Eagle Cap Wilderness in Oregon last week (August 15-23)…On August August 18th we saw a few Jerusalem crickets, but then on the 19th, they were everywhere! We could hardly avoid stepping on them on the trail. Then, the next day, we were back to seeing only one or two. Can you explain this? Thanks! They are wonderful bugs!

  57. I am taking one to school for my students to see on Tuesday. This insect was found by my father while fighting a wild lands fire in Southern Montana last week. Thanks for the information on how to keep him healthy for his visit.

  58. My daughter went into the bathroom to brush her teeth before bed n i here this loud scream n i run in there to find this massive insect jumping around crazy so i googled it n found out it the jerusalem cricket this makes twice I’ve found them inside my home. At first I thought it was a giant cricket…very freaky looking insects that’s for sure and I live in East Tennessee. From my research i could find their not originally around this area?

  59. Found one in the second story bedroom of our daughter as well, when she called out in the middle of the night saying there was a scratching sound under the bed. Found one going in circles around the bedpost, across a sheet of crinkled notebook paper. East of Oakland, CA, apparently in the heart of JC territory. Legend is that a cricket in the house is good luck, but this did not look lucky to us.

  60. I found one barely moving on my walkway next to a bed of plants in my front porch. how do I prevent them from coming inside the house other than covering any gaps? Is there any type of repellent or insecticide that would work on the JC’s…

  61. Huh, it strange to hear that these things are rare to other people; I’ve found handfuls of these creatures in our yard every Winter/Spring since moving to Oakland, CA.

  62. hereifanywhere Says:

    I found one right before a snow storm. After scaring everyone in the house, i took some pictures and feel in love. It was a cute little thing I pit back in the yard under the dried corn patch we had. It was a good size not the biggest I have seen.

  63. Find these every now and then but i Just found one at our drill outside of Wells NV. Threw two moths and a little Beatle in a cup with him and he ate all 3 but a couple wings off the moths and the wings and legs from the Beatle. Thing as to be about to explode! I bet hes ate 1/2 his body weight. Tried pasting a pic of him with a mouth full of moth but I can’t from my iPhone. Good entertainment when its drilling slow! He’s right at 1.5″ from his nose to butt. About average size of the ones I find.

    • David Weissman Says:

      James,
      Thanks for posting your sighting of a Nevada Jerusalem cricket. I am the person who actively studies them and I want to ask you a few questions. Would you please write to me at: gryllus@gmail.com. Thanks!
      Dave Weissman

  64. We live in Eureka, CA and find them quite regularly. Was just doing some sprinkler work earlier today so we got the lawn pretty saturated. Later this evening I was walking in to our laundry room from the garage and out if nowhere felt something on my shin. Thinking a moth had landed on me and since it was dark I simply shook my leg, but it didn’t budge. Reached down for what I thought was a moth instead I found a JC half way up to my knee. I always heard they really can’t climb or jump so I have no clue as to how this two inch bugger got on me. I put him outside in our back bushes before I read this sadly. Next time I will get the pic. We see them a whole lot this time of year.

  65. We just found one in Grants Pass, OR. He’s pretty large. After reading this we are going to go see if we can’t catch him and measure him. Thanks for all the great info.

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