The Jerusalem Cricket is an insect of the Stenopelmatidae family. Its scientific name is Stenopelmatus fuscus. The native Americans called this cricket Woh-tzi-Neh or "Old Bald-Headed Man." In Spanish, it is called "Nina de la Tierra" or "Child of the Earth." Southwestern Indians once feared it, and called it "child of the desert." It is also called "Potato Bug" because it has been found in potato fields feeding on the roots and tubers of the crop. This is confusing as often the Potato Beetle that only feeds on above ground parts of plants is also referred to as the Potato Bug.
Although unusual, the Jerusalem Cricket is neither unique nor rare as it was once thought to be. In fact, there may be several species in the genus and research is presently being conducted to identify how many different variations exist and where each lives. These insects are commonly found west of the Rocky Mountains with most occurring along the Pacific Coast from British Columbia to Mexico. They are found throughout Nevada, although not in great numbers in any one place.
These crickets live most of their lives in the ground. When they move about on the ground it is usually at night or in the early morning and evening. Only rarely do they travel about during the day. Consequently, people usually only see them when they plow or till the soil and at dusk. They may be found under rocks in open grassy pastures during the winter, fall and spring. They become inactive during the fall and hide for protection. They can also be found and dug out of manure heaps and damp places.
The Jerusalem cricket will eat a variety of foods. Bread, grass roots, vegetables including slices of potato, and a variety of fruits may be consumed. They relish meat and small insects.
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