The Potato Bug, also known as the Jerusalem Cricket or Earth Children, is not a cute creature. Jerusalem crickets or potato bugs go by several names that show how repulsive they are.
However, just because they appear terrifying does not imply, they are. Knowing how to detect a potato bug and where to look for one is just as important as knowing what to do if you come across one.
One question often asked is, are potato bugs dangerous? In our guide, you can learn more about a potato bug, Jerusalem cricket, or other names they go by. You will discover that these are neither a true cricket nor a true bug.
While you may not see them in the day, they come out at night to forage for food or search for a mate. (Read Our Growing Potatoes Indoors Guide)
By the end, you’ll have more information about how to deal with a potato bugs bite (if they do), and if you need to stop them eating your garden, once you know, what does a potato bug eat?
Are Potato Bugs Poisonous And Do They Bite?
Potato bug bites aren’t dangerous, but they’re nasty. The potato bug, also known as the Jerusalem cricket or child of the earth bug, is found in the western USA and Mexico. These giant nocturnal insects might enter your home and bite if threatened or trapped.
The potato bug (Jerusalem cricket) has orange and black stripes and should be removed from the yard or home. Be careful not to get bitten.
So, what is Jerusalem cricket? These insects don’t eat potatoes or hail from Jerusalem. The Jerusalem cricket is also known as the skunk bug, skull insect, earth baby, or shining bug (Spanish, nio de la terra).
Potato bugs aren’t dangerous, but their strong jaws can make you scream in pain if they bite. The strong jaws of Jerusalem crickets burrow into the earth; therefore, their bite is painful.
Are potato bugs poisonous? Potato bug bites are rare and have no poison. Most bugs skitter away from humans because they are naturally timid.
In most cases, potato bugs bite unexpectedly. For example, you may be bitten when gardening if they are discovered under dead organic matter such as leaves, in flower beds, or amid decaying plants. Wear gloves to avoid getting bitten by these huge strange bugs.
The Jerusalem cricket’s only threat to humans is an excruciating bite, and the pain from this insect bite is short-lived.
To avoid the anguish of a Jerusalem cricket bite, learn their agitation symptoms. When a potato bug is about to bite you, it usually lifts its back legs to make itself appear larger. It may hiss before pouncing on your skin.
What Will a Potato Bug Bite Look Like?
Do potato bugs bit is asked, and they can sometimes. The initial sign of a potato bug bite is usually a severe stinging sensation and minor pain.
A Jerusalem cricket bite has neither venom nor toxin; therefore, no severe swelling or redness should occur. However, some experts say cricket bites could cause skin blisters or skin rash from an allergic reaction to the painful potato bug bite, even if potato beetles lack any poison glands. (Read Can You Still Eat Potatoes That Have Sprouted)
How to treat potato bug bites?
If you ask, do potato bugs bite very often? They won’t bite as often as other crickets that do since you hardly ever see them. However, you may get bitten; cleaning the bite mark helps avoid infection. Warm water and soap usually kill any germs near the bite wound.
Apply diluted apple cider vinegar to the injured bite for a few minutes if it causes pain or itching.
Mix raw apple cider vinegar and water to cure potato bug bites. Next, apply a cotton ball soaked in vinegar to the sore bite mark. Use 3-4 times daily until pain, itching, or redness is gone.
What is Jerusalem Cricket (Potato Bug)?
Jerusalem crickets (Stenopelmatus fuscus) is a giant wingless insect that resembles ants and wasps. The insect bugs have a huge brown head resembling a humanoid with orange-brown and black bands and huge legs.
Jerusalem crickets reach 2.5 inches. So these hideous cricket bugs can be nearly as long as your palm. Potato bugs are insect monsters because of their ugliness and size.
When threatened, Jerusalem bugs not only bite but also stink. Some names given to potato bugs are skull insect, shining bug, red skull bug, dark Jerusalem crickets, and Skunk bugs.
Although dubbed potato bugs, Jerusalem crickets, or Jerusalem beetles are not confused with Colorado potato beetle, in most cases, no one knows why they are called potato bugs, as they don’t like to eat potato crops or potato plants.
Colorado potato beetles can ravage any nightshade family member, and even with the name, you’ll find potato bugs won’t damage potato fields or attack potato gardens in a small garden.
Where will if find Jerusalem Cricket?
Potato bugs can be found throughout the western United States and Mexico. However, because they reside underground and emerge at night, these annoying bugs are rarely seen, and they aren’t necessarily in your potato garden.
Jerusalem crickets can be found in flower gardens, under leaves or stones, and near compost piles. In addition, gardeners frequently come across potato bugs when preparing the soil for planting.
Most gardeners want to get rid of potato bugs before sowing seeds or planting new plants because they consume plants.
What Potato Bugs Eat?
Potato bugs eat decaying plant debris and dead roots. Despite its name, potato bugs do not prefer potatoes.
One reason gardeners want to eradicate Jerusalem crickets from their soil is to injure new plants. They enjoy sucking the juice from the leaves and stems of plants. The cricket’s toxin-rich saliva can harm plants. Potato bugs are not venomous, yet their saliva harms plants.
Many gardeners consider potato bugs beneficial to the soil rather than pests. Crickets burrowing into the soil help aerate it. Garden dead roots and other decaying organic matter are suitable targets for Jerusalem crickets.
A lack of decaying plant material causes Jerusalem bugs to use their toxin-laced saliva as they consume young plants.
Do Potatoes Help With Bug Bites?
You may be wondering if potato bugs bite or if the devil’s spawn is poisonous. A potato bug will make every effort to avoid you, but if you persevere and threaten them, you can expect a nasty bite. They have extraordinarily powerful jaws and fangs, so you’ll know if they bite you.
While painful, this bite does not require treatment and should only last a few minutes. However, to avoid being bitten while gardening, keep an eye out and always wear a sturdy pair of gloves just in case.
Jerusalem crickets, also known as potato bugs or children of the earth bugs, are not toxic. However, the potato bug has toxin-laced saliva that kills plants but is harmless to humans.
When threatened, potato bugs generate a nasty odor that deters predators, but with these guys, you only have to fear their jaws. Thankfully, rarely do you experience an infestation of potato bugs in your home. Instead, these garden bugs prefer the outdoors to feed on decaying plants.
Hissing noises, wilting and stunted plants, or damaged flowerbeds are some symptoms that you need to get rid of potato bugs from your garden.
Here are some natural methods for getting rid of potato bugs and other insects from your garden or yard. (Read How To Tell When Potatoes Are Ready To Harvest)
Kill Potato Bugs with Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a non-toxic way to rid your garden of unwanted creepy-crawlies such as Jerusalem bugs.
To limit the number of potato bugs in your garden, you can apply food-grade diatomaceous earth dust. Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder made from fossilized algal remnants.
Diatomaceous earth is inefficient in wet or damp weather, which is one disadvantage of using it to combat Jerusalem potato bugs.
All you have to do is sprinkle diatomaceous dust in locations where potato bugs have been discovered. Then, every few days, reapply the non-toxic insecticide, making sure to do so after any rain or when the soil has dried out.
Neem Oil for Potato Bugs
Another natural way to get rid of Jerusalem crickets or the Colorado potato beetle around your potato plants is neem oil. One benefit of using neem oil for potato bugs is that it is non-toxic to humans and plants.
In addition, these pesticides work well on pests like Colorado potato bugs and cockroaches. Neem oil also kills Colorado beetle larvae or potato bug larvae before hatching, preventing pest outbreaks.
Will Potato Bugs Live In My Home?
Potato bugs will spend most of their time outside, where their food source is. There will never be swarms of them because of their mating cycle, but you can find a couple dozen of the nocturnal insects in the garden when there are lots of degraded organic material.
They are attracted to food sources, so as the planting season draws close, you will notice an increase in the number of orange banded bodies going towards your garden.
Because potato bugs, like other insects, spend most of their time underground, it’s critical to search for evidence that they’ve progressed from a beneficial garden companion to an infestation, and you need pest control.
Damage to the garden or flowerbed, infested plants, hissing and scratching sounds coming from the garden, and curled or stunted plants are some of the warning indications.
The potato bug is rarely seen indoors because it favors moist, dark environments. They may, however, make their way inside if it is exceedingly hot and dry outside. They do not directly threaten the home and will not cause any damage.
What to Do If I See a Potato Bug?
If you see one or two potato bugs that resemble engorged wasps in your home or garden, put on a pair of thick gloves and pick them up and move them.
How To Get Rid Of Potato Beetles Naturally
Jerusalem crickets can be useful to gardens, but if their numbers are out of hand, there are certain things you can do to reduce them.
It is simple to prevent them in gardens by spraying chemical insecticides or a natural pesticide on larger populations or introducing their natural predators (ladybugs, stinkbugs, and spined soldier bugs). However, depending on where you are growing, these insects could also cause damage.
Seal up any spots where potato bugs could enter your home to keep them out. Large holes in the siding, open doors, and windows are examples of this. Moisture attracts them, so keeping your home dry is also crucial.
Keep mulch or other wet organic material away from your home’s foundation to dry your home’s foundation inside.
You should also pick up any rocks, woodpiles, or rubbish from your landscape to prevent potato bugs or other insects such as house crickets from hiding.
If you use sprinklers, turn them on first thing in the morning to dry out the area surrounding your home during the day. Otherwise, avoid watering your lawn with a sprinkler or a hose.
As indicated, introducing natural predators is a more “organic” alternative by far. Still, you have to consider the implications they have on the local environment as well as your garden and home. For example, the potato bug isn’t a pretty insect in the insect world, and it has a painful bite and a foul smell when up close.
Potato bugs eat other plants, and the name potato bug is nothing to do with the food it likes. You can spot the signs on other plants with stunted growth, yet the need to get rid of them can be less than other garden insects.
Crop rotation can control Colorado beetle, yet these can pose more of an issue than do potato bugs bite or not, and is a potato bug poisonous?