Although potato bug bites are not dangerous, they can be extremely painful and debilitating. There are several names for the potato bug, including Jerusalem Cricket and Child of the Earth Bug. These large nocturnal insects can infiltrate your home and, if they feel threatened or cornered, will usually bite you, inflicting a nasty bite.
What is a Potato Bug?
These creatures are not attractive. Jerusalem crickets or potato bugs are known by several names that accurately indicate how obnoxious and filthy they are.
However, just because they appear terrible does not imply fear. This post will discuss some of the more fascinating facts regarding potato bugs before providing you with the critical information you want.
Known scientifically as Jerusalem crickets (Stenopelmatus fuscus), these large insects appear amalgamating an ant and an overstuffed wasp.
Because of their large bulging head, small eyes, and long antennae, their ant-like appearance can be frightening to some people.
These insect bugs have a large brown head resembling a humanoid appearance, one of the most disturbing aspects of their overall appearance.
Their body is covered in shiny orange and black bands, and they have three large legs on either side of their body.
Potato bugs have no wings and move around on six spider-like legs, similar to those of ants. Their legs assist them in digging into the ground, which is where they spend most of their lives. Jerusalem crickets, in contrast to other crickets, do not jump.
Jerusalem crickets may reach a maximum size of 2.5 inches (6 cm). As a result, these unsightly-looking cricket bugs can grow to be nearly as long as the width of your palm.
In fact, because of their unsightliness and large size, potato bugs are referred to as “the monsters of the insect world” by some.
The 15 Interesting Facts About Potato Bugs
1. About Its Names
When you hear the terms “potato bug” or “Jerusalem cricket,” you might be a little perplexed. These insects don’t eat potatoes, and they’re not from the holy city of Jerusalem.
Besides Jerusalem crickets, other names for them include “child of the earth” (in Spanish, nio de la Tierra), “skunk bug,” “skull insect,” “earth baby,” and “shiny bug.”
2. Classification and Taxonomy of Potato Bugs
In terms of entomological classification, the Jerusalem crickets are classified as belonging to the family Stenopelmatidae of the order Orthoptera (which has incomplete metamorphosis).
The pill bugs are classified as belonging to the family Armadillidae of the order Isopoda, and the Colorado beetles are classified as belonging to the family Chrysomelidae of the order Coleoptera.
The Jerusalem crickets are classified under the genus name Stenopelmatus. In contrast, the pill bugs, also known as roly-poly bugs, are classified under Armadillidium’s genus.
The Colorado beetles are classified under Leptinotarsa’s genus, which means “Little Colorado Beetle.”
3. Physical Appearance of Potato Bugs
Although the insect’s larvae are described as grotesque, the adult bug insect has an equally grotesque appearance, which is hair-raising.
The large jaw of the Jerusalem cricket and the head, which resembles a human head and is disproportionately large compared to the rest of the body, are the characteristics that stand out in this species.
The head is significantly larger than the body, a severe flaw.
Generally speaking, these insects can grow to a maximum length of two and a half inches, which is enormous compared to Colorado’s most significant growth, which can reach up to 0.375 inches in length.
The Jerusalem insect’s legs, thorax, and head are typically colored in an amber-yellow hue.
Brown and black bands can be found on the insect’s abdominal part, which indicates that it is alive. Their legs are spiny, which allows them to dig easily into the ground with their spiky extremities.
Colorado is a small state with an oval-shaped body and ten vertical stripes on the back. Its name is derived from the state of Colorado. They have yellow-orange wings with a yellow-orange hue to them.
4. The Different Types of Potato Bugs
The Jerusalem potato bug is a wingless insect that can sting painfully if it is handled inappropriately. Neither a proper cricket nor an actual bug, according to Wikipedia, is the insect in question.
In the United States, the country’s western regions are the most common locations where they can be found. The bug has also been discovered in Mexico.
During the day, these insects are usually not visible, but at night, they emerge from the ground where they have taken up residence in search of mates or food.
If you want to see them during the day, look for them in moist areas such as woodpiles or tree barks that have been left on the ground.
Colorado Potato Beetle
The Colorado potato bug is an insect pest that attacks plants in the Solanaceae family, including potatoes. The Colorado bug is also known as a ten-striped spearman and a ten-lined potato beetle for the ten stripes on its back.
This insect does not eat potatoes, but if it finds its way into a potato garden, it will wreak havoc on the crop by consuming the roots and leaves of the plants.
The Colorado potato bug can be found in Colorado and in many other parts of the United States and parts of Mexico. These are the most destructive pests in potato gardens, according to plant growers.
Because they have developed resistance to many of the available insecticides, farmers are having difficulty eliminating them.
There is another form of potato insect, which is also referred to as a potato bug. It is known as the rolly poly pill bug, and the term is appropriate given the insect’s ability to straighten out its body while also closing it up to form a ball-like shape.
Unlike other insects, rolly poly does not bite and is not harmful, nor does it spread illness. However, because they feed on the roots of plants, they have the potential to inflict harm to your garden, which is why they are also classified as pests.
The rolly poly bug is more closely related to the crab and lobster families, and as a result, they are classified as crustaceans in this context. They are most commonly found in decomposing rubbish piles and mulch, among other places.
5. Where Can You Find the Potato Bug?
Potato bugs are found in the western United States and Mexico, where potatoes are grown. Because they prefer to reside underground and only come out at night, you may not encounter many of these unattractive bugs during the day.
Some Jerusalem crickets may be discovered in your flower beds, beneath leaves or stones in your garden, and in and around compost heaps if you reside in an area where Jerusalem crickets may be found.
Gardeners are frequently confronted with many potato bugs when preparing the soil for planting. Cultivating the soil might cause the ground crickets to get disoriented.
In the garden or when clearing away garbage, old leaves, or working in the yard, potato bug bites are prevalent.
Given the fact that potato bugs may consume plants, most gardeners make an effort to eradicate as many of the threatening insects as possible before sowing seeds and new plants.
6. What Food Do Potato Bugs Consume?
Potato bugs live on rotting plant materials, dead roots, and other organic matter, among other things. Potato bugs, despite their name, are not particularly fond of potatoes and will eat anything else.
Growing plants, particularly young plants, can be harmed by Jerusalem crickets, which is one of the reasons why gardeners strive to eliminate them from their landscapes.
Sucking the fluids from fruits and vegetables’ leaves and stems is one of their favorite activities.
Because the cricket leaves its poisonous saliva behind, this can harm plant development.
As a result of this saliva, only plants are harmed, and because potato bugs do not have poison glands, they are not poisonous.
On the other hand, many gardeners do not consider potato bugs to be pests in the garden, but rather beneficial to the soil. As the cricket bugs burrow into the soil, they contribute to the aeration of the soil.
Jerusalem crickets are also useful for consuming decaying organic matter in your yards, such as dead roots and other decomposing organic matter.
The absence of dead plant material to feed on is generally the reason why Jerusalem crickets begin to nibble the leaves of your newly planted flowers and vegetables in your garden.
7. How to Get Rid of or Kill Potato Bugs
Fortunately, it is quite uncommon that you will have a potato bug infestation in your home or office. These garden bugs prefer to be outside, where they may eat on rotting plant matter, rather than within.
Hissing noises, wilting plants, stunted plants, and damaged flowerbeds are just a few of the symptoms that you need to get rid of potato bugs from your garden.
Natural methods to get rid of potato bugs and other hazardous insects from your garden or yard include the following ways:
Diatomaceous Earth is an Effective Pesticide for Potato Bugs
Using diatomaceous earth (DE) to rid your garden of undesirable creepy-crawlies such as Jerusalem bugs is a non-toxic pest control method.
Using food-grade diatomaceous earth dust in your garden to minimize the number of potato pests is completely safe.
Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder made from the fossilized remnants of a species of algae. It is used in the construction industry.
Using Neem Oil to Get Rid of Potato Bugs is a Good Idea
Using neem oil, another natural method for getting rid of Jerusalem crickets from your yard might be effective.
It is one of the primary reasons for using neem oil to treat potato pests since it is non-toxic to humans and plants and has minimal toxicity to both.
According to research, neem oil has been demonstrated to treat a variety of insect infestations effectively.
Neem oil has been shown to suppress hormone activity in a variety of insects, impairing their capacity to reproduce and eat as a result.
Please keep in mind that potato bug larvae are frequently found on the undersides of leaves, so be sure to treat those areas of the plant as soon as possible.
8. How to Get Rid of Potato Bugs and Their Eggs in Your Garden
There isn’t much more you can do to get rid of these threatening insects from your garden. In addition to adopting natural control measures, various approaches may be used to eliminate these monstrous insects.
Jerusalem cricket traps are used to get rid of the pests. Placing petroleum jelly on a little piece of wood will allow you to create your own DIY potato bug traps. Place the traps in areas where you believe these nocturnal bugs may be hiding.
If the potato bugs walk on the traps, they should become entangled in them. Remove any bugs you catch and continue to place the garden insect traps until you have no more bugs to catch.
You’re cleaning up your yard. It is also essential to maintain your yard clean of waste if you want to get rid of potato bugs in your garden.
Dead leaves, dead grass, and other dead plant materials should be removed from your yard regularly.
By putting firewood at least 5 cm above the ground and avoiding garbage from gathering in your garden, you may help to prevent Jerusalem crickets from establishing a home in your yard.
9. The Life Cycle of a Product
It is similar to real crickets in that the Jerusalem cricket’s transformation does not occur in its entirety. The egg is the initial step in developing a creature’s life cycle. The female adult lays many oval-shaped eggs in the soil throughout the fall season.
The development of a nymph from an egg occurs only when suitable climatic circumstances are met, which is most often in the spring. The beetle remains dormant for more than two years during the nymph stage before adulthood.
10. Oniscus Asellus, the Common Woodlouse
During the life cycle of a Pillbug (Armadillidium Vulgare), the egg stage, juvenile stage, and adult stage are all present.
For the Jerusalem cricket, the eggs hatch in her marsupium instead of the male. Since they are nearly fully grown at birth, they do not undergo any significant morphological transformation.
Colorado beetle eggs are laid on the host plant, away from direct sunlight, by the female beetle.
According to the temperature and humidity, the eggs will hatch if the conditions are right. During the larval stage, the animal will be alive for 21 days. For the larvae to pupate, they must remain on the host plant until it dies.
11. The Bite of Potato Bug
If you get bitten by a potato bug, don’t panic. They are not harmful insects, but they have powerful jaws that can cause you to scream in pain.
Given that Jerusalem crickets burrow into the ground with their powerful jaws, it’s no surprise that their bite is quite painful.
In addition to the fact that they do not inject venom, potato bugs bites are not extremely prevalent. Natural shyness in the insects causes them to flee when they see people.
As a result of their intimidating appearance, humans often dispatched the huge insects as quickly as possible.
Pork bug bites are most common when you are least prepared for them—getting bitten when gardening is possible because they are frequently found under plant leaves, in flower beds, and decaying plants.
Using gardening gloves when working in the garden might assist you prevent getting bitten by these massive ant-like insects.
So, even though a potato bug appears to be hazardous to people, the worst that a Jerusalem cricket can do is inflict a non-toxic excruciating bite on its victim.
The discomfort caused by an insect bite is generally quite temporary, lasting only a few minutes at the most.
When dealing with a Jerusalem cricket bug, it’s essential to be aware of the indicators that they are becoming agitated to avoid the misery of being bitten.
Potato bugs are known to make themselves appear larger by pulling their rear legs up as they are about to bite you in the face.
Before it pounces on your flesh, you may also hear hissing noises from the creature.
12. Do Potato Bugs Contain Poison?
No, Jerusalem crickets, also known as potato bugs or children of the earth bugs, are not harmful. On the other hand, the potato insect has toxin-laced saliva that damages plants, but it is not toxic to people.
There is no danger of being poisoned by these creatures, and the worst that may happen is a painful bite if you are threatened with one.
Potato bugs release a nasty stench in times of danger, which helps keep predators away, but the only thing you have to be concerned about is their teeth with these guys.
Potato bug infestations are widespread when there is an abundance of decayed plant roots and organic debris in flower and vegetable gardens.
They can be found in areas with damp soil or under dense foliage growth. Burrows and holes are frequently used as hiding places by them.
To be more specific, potato bug infestations occur in locations with a plentiful supply of food sources.
This results in its being in and around the home only sometimes visible.
14. Are Potato Bugs Good Or Bad For Your Garden?
Despite their unappealing appearance, Jerusalem crickets are useful to your garden. They are hard to find in significant numbers, but when they do, they are beneficial in maintaining the health of your soil.
It will burrow into your garden and eat away at all of the dead roots and other material that has been left over from your previous garden because the potato bug’s preferred meal is decaying plant matter.
It is possible to make the soil more porous by aerating it with burrowing. Aside from that, they consume smaller insects that might be hazardous to your plants as well. Pest management for you and your garden is provided in part by the potato bug.
15. What Happens If a Potato Bug Bites You?
A severe stinging sensation is likely to be the first indicator of a potato bug bite if you are unfortunate enough to get bit by one. For the most part, people report that the discomfort after a bite is quite temporary.
What is the appearance of a Jerusalem cricket bite? The lack of venom or poison in their bite should prevent any substantial swelling or redness from occurring after being bitten.
A rash or itching lesions on your skin, according to some websites, may result from cricket bites.
Of course, the painful potato bug bite may cause an allergic reaction, which should be treated as soon as possible.
Final Thoughts on The Potato Bug
While present in tiny numbers, the potato bug may be beneficial to gardens and should be allowed to continue its good work.
When they are not threatened, they represent no harm to people, but they will do all to avoid contacting them.
These insects want only to be left alone, despite their intimidating appearance. Rest confident that you will receive their free assistance.
Purchase a good pair of gardening gloves. You’ll be glad you did!