The term 'potato bug' could be used for referring to Jerusalem cricket, Armadillidium vulgare (also called pill bug, roly poly, sowbug), or Colorado beetle. Here are some interesting facts associated with the Jerusalem cricket. Jerusalem cricket is not a pest of potato plant or tubers. Neither it is indigenous to Jerusalem, nor it is a bug or cricket.
Facts about Jerusalem Cricket
Taxonomy and Classification
As per entomological taxonomy, the potato bug belongs to the family Stenopelmatidae of the order Orthoptera (having incomplete metamorphosis). All types of potato bugs are grouped under the genus name Stenopelmatus, whereas species name varies with respect to the particular type. You can identify them from the extraordinary large heads with distinctive black eyes.
Similar to true crickets, the metamorphosis of the potato bug is not complete. Egg is the first stage in its life cycle. In the fall, several oval-shaped eggs are laid in the soil by the female adult. An egg hatches into a nymph only at the arrival of favorable environmental conditions, preferably in spring. The nymph stage continues for more than 2 years, after which the bug emerges as an adult.
The potato bug is nocturnal in habit and remains active only at nighttime. Primary diet of this insect is dead organic matter, including decaying vegetative matter and plant parts. The extra long mandibles serve as an adaptation for devouring on organic matter. However, at times of food scarcity, potato bug feeds on other insects.
Infestation by potato bugs is common in flower and vegetable gardens, where there is plenty of decaying plant roots and organic material. You can find them in moist soil or under thick vegetation. Very often, they hide in burrows and holes. To be more precise, infestation of potato bugs occur in areas where there is an ample amount of food source. Hence, it is rarely visible in and around the house.
Potato Bug Control
Controlling potato bugs is not necessary as it does little harm to the home and garden. If at all, it causes devastating damage to the garden plants, you can practice common pest control methods to get rid of potato bugs. In case, you notice them in your house, make sure to keep the rooms and surrounding environment dry. Do not confuse harmless potato bugs with pill bugs (Armadillidium species) or Colorado potato beetles (Leptinotarsa species).