Potato bug bites are not poisonous, but they can be very painful and sore. The potato bug is also known as the Jerusalem cricket or child of the potato bug and lives in the western United States and Mexico. These large nocturnal insects can enter your home and usually inflict a nasty bite if they feel threatened or cornered.
The potato bug (Jerusalem cricket) has orange and black stripes and if you find it in your garden or home, you may want to get rid of it. Be sure to handle it properly to avoid getting bitten.
The name “potato bug” or “Jerusalem cricket” can be a bit confusing. These insects do not gorge on potatoes, nor are they native to Jerusalem. Other names for Jerusalem crickets are “child of the earth” (Spanish, Child of the earth), skunk bugs, skull bugs, a baby of the earth or a shiny bug.
In this article, you will learn all about potato bugs and what to do if you find these nasty pests destroying your garden plants.
Jerusalem cricket bite (potato bug)
Potato bugs are not venomous insects, but they do have strong jaws that can make you scream in pain if they bite you. Jerusalem crickets use their strong jaws to dig into the earth, so it’s no wonder their bite is painful.
Potato bug bites may not be very common and they do not inject venom. Annoying insects are naturally shy creatures and will scurry away from humans. Also, large bugs look quite scary and because of this, most humans quickly get rid of them.
Most potato bugs bite when you least expect it. Because they are often found under plant leaves, in flower beds, and among decaying plants, you could be bitten while gardening.
To avoid being bitten by these giant ant-like creatures, it’s a good idea to wear gloves when gardening.
So, while a potato bug may seem dangerous to humans, the worst a Jerusalem cricket will do is inflict a non-toxic agonizing bite. The pain caused by the insect bite is usually transient and should last only a few minutes.
To avoid the agony of being bitten by a Jerusalem cricket insect, it is helpful to know the warning signs when they are agitated. When a cricket bug is about to sink its teeth into you, it usually gets bigger by lifting its hind legs. You may also hear hissing noises before it is about to pounce on your skin.
What does a potato bug bite look like?
If you are unlucky enough to get a potato bug bite, the first sign will probably be a strong stinging sensation. Most people say the pain from a bite lasts a few minutes.
What does a Jerusalem cricket bite feel like? Because there is no venom or poison in their bite, you should not see any significant swelling or redness. Some websites say that cricket bites can cause sores on the skin or itching.
Of course, you may have an allergic reaction to the painful cricket bug bite and you should treat it appropriately.
How to treat a potato bug bite
To avoid an infection in the bite mark, it is important to clean the affected area. Usually, warm water and soap are enough to get rid of the germs around the bite. If you feel pain and itching, you can apply diluted apple cider vinegar to the irritated bite.
To treat potato bug bites, mix equal amounts of raw apple cider vinegar with water. Soak a cotton ball in the vinegar remedy and apply to the painful bite mark. Use 3 or 4 times a day until all pain, itching and redness is gone.
What is Jerusalem cricket (potato bug)?
Jerusalem crickets ( Fnscns Stenopelmatus ) are large insects that look like a cross between a large ant and a large wasp. Their ant-like appearance may seem frightening to many people because of their large domed head, small eyes and long antennae.
One of the disconcerting aspects of the appearance of these insects is their large brown heads that have a humanoid appearance. Their bodies have bright orange and black stripes with 3 large legs on each side.
Potato bugs are wingless creatures and move on their 6 spider-like legs. Their legs help them dig into the ground where they spend much of their lives. Unlike other crickets, Jerusalem crickets do not jump.
Jerusalem crickets can grow to 2.5 inches (6 cm). That means these ungainly-looking cricket bugs can be almost as long as the width of your hand. In fact, because of their unsightliness and size, people describe potato bugs as the monsters of the bug world.
In addition to giving you a bad bite, Jerusalem bugs also give off a foul stench when threatened.
The appearance of a potato bug is the reason why it has adopted names such as “skull bug”, “shiny bug”, “red skull bug”, “dark Jerusalem crickets” and “skunk bug”.
Although Jerusalem crickets or Jerusalem beetles are called potato bugs, they should not be confused with the Colorado potato beetle or CPB. In fact, no one really knows where the name of this nasty looking creature comes from.
One researcher speculated that a scientist called the beetle a Jerusalem cricket because it resembled the Jerusalem cross. The name “potato bugs” could come from the fact that they are commonly found in potato fields. Because they are also found under stones, the term “stone crickets” is sometimes used. (
However, the good news is that they are not an aggressive insect. So, generally, if you leave them alone, they will leave you alone and not think about biting you.
Where is the Jerusalem cricket (potato bug) found?
Potato bugs live in areas of the western United States and Mexico. You may not see these unsightly insects very often because they tend to live underground and usually come out at night.
If you live in areas with Jerusalem crickets, you may discover them in your flower beds, under leaves or rocks, or in and around compost piles. Gardeners often find many potato bugs when preparing the soil for planting. Cultivating the soil can disturb the ground crickets.
Potato bug bites are common when cleaning up debris, old leaves or working in the garden.
Because potato bugs can eat plants, most gardeners try to get rid of as many threatening bugs as possible before planting seeds and new plants.
What do potato bugs eat?
Potato bugs feed on dead roots, decaying plant material and other organic matter. Despite their name, potato bugs do not prefer to eat potatoes.
One reason gardeners try to eradicate Jerusalem crickets from their land is that they can harm growing plants, especially young ones. They love to suck the juice from the leaves and stems of fruits and vegetables. This can affect plant growth because the cricket leaves behind its toxic saliva. This saliva only causes damage to plants, but since potato bugs do not have poison glands, they are not poisonous.
However, many gardeners do not consider potato bugs to be pests in the garden, but good for the soil. As the cricket bugs dig into the soil, they help aerate it. Jerusalem crickets are also good at munching on dead roots and other decaying organic matter in your garden.
A lack of dead plant material to eat is usually the reason Jerusalem crickets start nibbling on your fresh young plants in your garden.
How to get rid of or kill potato bugs
Fortunately, it’s rare that you experience an infestation of potato bugs in your home. These garden bugs prefer the outdoors where they can feed on decaying plants.
Some of the signs that help you know you need to get rid of potato bugs from your garden are hissing, wilted plants, stunted plants or damaged flower beds.
Here are some natural ways to eradicate potato bugs and other pests from your garden or yard.
How to kill potato bugs with diatomaceous earth
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a non-toxic way to rid your garden of unwanted bugs such as Jerusalem bugs.
You can safely use food-grade diatomaceous earth dust around your garden to reduce the number of potato bugs. Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder made from the fossilized remains of a type of algae.
According to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), DE works by destroying the insect’s exoskeleton. This causes them to dry out and eventually die. Food-grade DE can be safely used in the garden without fear of it causing harm to humans, pets or your plants. ( two )
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One of the drawbacks of using diatomaceous earth to kill Jerusalem potato bugs is that it is not effective in wet or humid weather.
All you have to do is sprinkle the diatomaceous earth dust in the areas where you see evidence of potato bugs. Repeat the application every few days and always reapply the non-toxic pesticide after rain when the soil has dried out.
Neem oil to get rid of potato bugs
Neem oil is another natural remedy to help get rid of Jerusalem crickets from your garden.
One of the reasons for using neem oil for potato bugs is that it is safe for humans and has low toxicity to plants.
Research has shown that neem oil can help control various pest infestations. Neem oil helps inhibit the hormonal function of many insects and affects their ability to reproduce and feed.
Other studies have shown that natural insecticides based on neem oil have been effective in controlling pests such as Colorado potato beetle, cockroaches and other insects. Neem oil also controls pest infestations by effectively killing the larvae before they hatch. ( 4 )
To make your own home remedy for potato bugs, you can make an insecticidal spray this way:
- Fill a 500 ml (17 oz) spray bottle ¾ full of water.
- Add 2 tablespoons of neem and a tablespoon of Castile soap.
- Shake well to mix the ingredients well.
- Spray on the leaves of your plants as needed.
- Reapply the natural potato bug insecticide every 2 days to help solve a potato bug problem.
Remember, potato bug larvae are often found on the underside of leaves, so be sure and spray those parts of the plant.
Learn more about the many uses of neem oil and how you can use this natural pesticide to get rid of potato bugs .
How to rid your garden of potato bugs and their eggs
What else can you do if you need to get rid of these threatening insects from your garden? In addition to using natural control methods, there are a number of other ways you can use to eradicate these monster bugs.
Traps to get rid of Jerusalem crickets . You can make your own potato bug traps by placing Vaseline on a small board. Place the traps where you think these nocturnal insects are hiding. The potato bugs should stick to the trap if they step on it. Get rid of any bugs you catch and continue to place the garden bug traps until there are none left.
Clean up your yard. Another way to get rid of potato bugs from your garden is to keep your yard free of debris. Remove dead leaves, dead grass and other dead plant material from your garden regularly. Help keep Jerusalem crickets out of your garden by storing firewood at least 2 inches off the ground and keeping trash from accumulating.