Not Jiminy

Oct 15, 2009

It was an unexpected visit.

UC Davis bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey noticed the critter in one of the restrooms at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis.

She found it several days after the massive Oct. 12 storm raced through Northern California.

The heavy rain soaked the earth, apparently forcing the critter from its habitat.

How it wound up in the restroom is anybody's guess.

What is it?

Jerusalem cricket.

Not a true cricket, though. It's an insect (genus Stenopelmatus) that feeds primarily on decaying organic material (and occasionally insects). It burrows into the soil using its highly specialized feet.

And yes, it does inflect a sometimes painful bite, as Cobey can attest.

It's not lethal though.

Cobey returned it to the Laidlaw grounds, releasing it near a stump.

She has no plans to trade her honey bees in for Jerusalem crickets.

By Kathy Keatley Garvey
Author - Communications specialist

Attached Images:

JERUSALEM CRICKET is not really a true cricket or a true bug. It's an insect that burrows beneath the soil to feed on decaying organic matter. During a heavy rainfall, you'll see them emerge from the soaked ground. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Jerusalem Cricket

BIG 'UN--This Jerusalem cricket is quite large (note the size of the pencil tip next to it). Some of these insects can reach 2.7 inches in length. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Big 'Un

CLOSE-UP of a head of a Jerusalem cricket. Note the mud splattered on one eye. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)


BEE BREEDER-GENETICIST Susan Cobey releases the Jerusalem cricket on the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research facility grounds. It was found inside the facility. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)