Jerusalem Crickets

- Different names for an "alien-looking" bug -

Summary: Jerusalem crickets are large insects that occur in dry, desert-like climates. They are harmless but may startle the unwary gardener if encountered.

Jack DeAngelis, PhD
OSU Ext. Entomologist (ret.)

Jerusalem crickets (see this picture of Jerusalem cricket, aka sand crickets or potato bugs) are truly bizarre looking insects. People sometimes think they have uncovered an alien species the first time they encounter one.

The large shiny head and scorpion-like abdomen immediately suggest that this creature is dangerous but it is not, Jerusalem crickets can't sting and are non-venomous. However, like any large insect, up to 2" in this case, they can bite.

While not a true cricket, Jerusalem crickets feed on plant material in the same way that crickets and grasshoppers do, but are not usually present in numbers that would cause damage to garden plants. Jerusalem crickets live mostly underground, or under rocks, and may wander into outbuildings looking for shade and/or water. These insects are actually fairly common throughout the western US and other dry and semi-arid climates worldwide. No control is necessary.

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