With their big heads and beady black eyes, Jerusalem crickets aren't winning any beauty contests. But that doesn't stop them from finding mates. They use their bulbous bellies to serenade each other with some furious drumming.
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Potato Bug. Child of the Earth. Old Bald-Headed Man. Skull Insects. Devil’s Baby. Spawn of Satan. There’s a fairly long list of imaginative nicknames that refer to Jerusalem crickets, those six-legged insects with eerily humanlike faces and prominent striped abdomens. And they can get quite large, too: Some measure over 3 inches long and weigh more than a mouse, so they can be quite unnerving if you see them crawling around in your backyard in summertime.
One individual who finds them compelling, and not creepy, has been studying Jerusalem crickets for over 40 years: David Weissman, a research associate in entomology affiliated with the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. He’s now considered the world’s foremost expert, since no one else has been as captivated or singlemindedly devoted to learning more about them.
While much of their general behavior is still not widely understood, Jerusalem crickets typically live solitary lives underground. They’ll emerge at night to scavenge for roots, tubers and smaller insects for their meals. And it’s also when they come out to serenade potential partners with a musical ritual: To attract a mate, adult crickets use their abdomens to drum the ground and generate low-frequency sound waves.
If a male begins drumming and a female senses the vibrations, she’ll respond with a longer drumming sequence so that he’ll have enough time to track her down. The drumming can vary between one beat every other second up to 40 beats per second.
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JERUSALEM! CRICKET? (Orthoptera: Stenopelmatidae: Stenopelmatus); Origins of a Common Name https://goo.gl/Y49GAK
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