How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Jerusalem cricket—Stenopelmatus fuscus

Because of their relatively large size and unusual appearance, Jerusalem crickets (family Stenopelmatidae) are commonly brought to entomologists for identification. They have many common names, including “niñas de la tierra” (children of the earth) and sand crickets. They also are sometimes called potato bugs because they are occasional pests of potatoes, but the name “potato bug” is confusing because it is applied to several different invertebrates, including Colorado potato beetle, pillbugs, sowbugs, and Jerusalem crickets, none of which are true bugs (Heteroptera).


Jerusalem crickets feed and tunnel underground during the day and can occur aboveground mostly at night. They are most often seen when exposed by gardeners turning the soil or above ground after heavy irrigation or rainfall, at night, or at twilight during mild weather. They are easily recognized by their bald, round, humanoid head and fat orangish abdomen with black rings. They have long, brownish antennae and spiny hind legs and lack wings. They grow up to about 2 inches long. Nymphs (immatures) look like small adults.

Life cycle

Jerusalem crickets hatch from eggs laid in soil and spend much of their time underground. Nymphs molt up to about 10 times before becoming reproductive adults. Their life span can be up to about 2 years.


Jerusalem crickets are harmless to people and woody plants. Their food includes insects, nonwoody roots, and tubers. They only occasionally damage turf and vegetables. Aside from their alarming appearance, they generally are not pests.


No control is necessary for Jerusalem crickets. They may be important food for certain vertebrate predators. If found where they are not desired, they can be scooped into a box and thrown away.

For more information see Jerusalem Cricket (PDF) from Colorado State University (CSU). Adapted from the CSU publication and Pests of Landscape Trees and Shrubs: An Integrated Pest Management Guide, University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM).

Adult Jerusalem cricket.
Adult Jerusalem cricket.

Adult Jerusalem cricket.
Adult Jerusalem cricket.

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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