Roger and I went for a walk around Sanborn County Park over the weekend.
A wonderful park situated in the Santa Cruz mountains. Full of wildlife, too. One of the main gathering areas has a wonderful creek that flows through it with several pools. It is quite common to see tons of salamanders, newts, ducks, and other critters!
A favorite place of Roger’s!
As he has gotten older, we have ventured further from the ponds to explore the critters living in the rest of the park (in the fall, there are typically hundreds of mushrooms all around).
On our most recent trip, we ran into a rather large beetle hiding under a log. Roger, being the fearless explorer that he is, was quite happy to pick it up, despite the rather powerful jaws on the front end.
Turns out this critter is a Jerusalem Cricket (Orthoptera Stenopelmatinae).
Sadly, a lot of people see such a creature and immediately assume that it is a bad bug. In researching this creature, we discovered several articles that implied that they were invasive species or were pests.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Jerusalem Cricket spends almost all of its life underground. The critter feeds on dead animals, rotting vegetation and leaves.
It pretty much only comes out when seeking a mate.
While the cricket does have very powerful jaws and can delivery a rather painful bite, the animal is actually quite docile. Jerusalem crickets are not predatory, content to remain hidden away anywhere it is moist, dark, and protected.
As it turns out, the Jerusalem Cricket is actually quite common west of the Rocky Mountains. They just do such a good job of staying out of the way that they are generally a rare site!
With the addition of automatic sprinkler systems in otherwise arid areas like Silicon Valley, the Jerusalem Crickets have become a more common site in residential areas. If you see one, please be nice. It has an important job and your yard will be healthier for its presence!