Warm summer nights just wouldn’t be the same without the sound of crickets to serenade us in our sleep.
Crickets are able to produce sound by “stridulation”, a process in which two very specialized body parts, the scraper and the file, are rubbed against each other.
One of the most wonderful crickets in the Monterey Bay area is the Jerusalem cricket. Jerusalem crickets are commonly referred to as potato bugs (because they will occasionally feed on potato tubers) or Woh-tzi-Neh (which translates to old, bald headed man).
The Jerusalem cricket is actually one of the largest insects in all of western Northern America, ranging in size from 1 to 2 1/2 inches long. Unlike most other crickets, female Jerusalem crickets possess an odd habit of frequently killing the males after mating.
Due to their size and appearance they often cause quite a fright when found. Admittedly, the Jerusalem cricket has somewhat of a ferocious look, equipped with a large, bald humanoid head and strong jaws that can inflict an uncomfortable bite if handled improperly.
However, crickets are generally quite harmless to both humans and garden plants. In addition, Jerusalem crickets are an important food source for many different raptors, including owls and small hawks.