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Zombie or... Cricket?

Cricket, [Zombie], or Cootie?

Holly Strand, October 12, 2013

"Hi, I’m Holly Strand from the Quinney College of Natural Resources at Utah State University.

It’s almost Halloween so I’d like to tell you about an unusual creature that has given many people a fright. It has a shiny oversized body with long spiny appendages. Dark eyes stare disturbingly from a smooth bald head. It eats both living and dead matter. And sometimes it engages in cannibalism.

It’s a zombie you may be thinking! But no; this creature is only about 2 inches long. It doesn’t attack humans although it will bite in self defense. And some species in the family will produce a foul-smelling discharge to discourage aggressors.

For baby boomers here’s one final hint—this creature must have been the model for the game “cootie” popular in the 1940-s through the 1970s. Remember rolling the dice to see what body part to attach to the brightly colored abdomen?

What I’m describing is the Jerusalem Cricket which is the common name for any of the 100 or more large, flightless insect species belonging to the genus Stenopelmatus. These insects can be found almost everywhere in the North American west and south into Mexico...

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