Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Apologies for the hiatus - I have been trapped by medical school obligations and it's hard to find a spare thought for other concerns. I will upload a picture as soon as the specimen is done drying (probably a week from now), but since it was an easy identification, I thought I would make a preview post. A common, large insect in California is the Jerusalem Cricket, family Stenopelmatidae. There are only two genera within the family: Ammopelmatus, which is critically endangered and only found in California in the Kelso Dunes of the Mojave Desert and coastal Point Conception, and Stenopelmatus, which is widespread. The insects are approximately 1.5-2 inches in length, with an awkward gait. They are wingless, have long antennae on a large head, and a black-banded abdomen.

Orthoptera; Ensifera; Stenopelmatidae; Stenopelmatus
Common Name: Jerusalem Cricket, Potato Bug

This family is unique in Orthoptera, for lacking wings, overdeveloped hind femurs, and auditory organs. They communicate with one another by producing vibrations on the ground with their abdomen, in place of rubbing their wings together as do most true crickets. Jerusalem crickets feed on decaying plant matter and some small insects, and are capable of burrowing into soft ground. They also emit a pungent smell, particularly upon death. The scent is similar to that produced by mantises and other insects. They are mostly nocturnal, so they are often encountered when gardening, lifting up logs and rocks, or when cleaning out pool filters.

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